Christian Bale has passed on the lead role in Darren Aronofsky's 'Noah'.

The 'Dark Knight Rises' actor was set to take on the titular character in the forthcoming Biblical epic - about a man who is told by God to build an ark and save all the world's animals from a huge flood - but due to his busy schedule, with films 'Lawless' and 'Knight of Cups' coming up, he has decided he can no longer commit.

Now, in-demand actor Michael Fassbender is said to be in contention for the part after a meeting with 'Black Swan' director Darren.

However, he too has a busy schedule - although he only officially has Steve McQueen's '12 Years A Slave' on his radar, he will also reprise the role of Magneto in an 'X-Men: First Class' sequel, and no offer has yet been confirmed.

'Noah' - which would be Darren's first significant project since 'Black Swan' - is set to go into production in spring 2012 following a script edit by John Logan, who most recently worked on Martin Scorsese's 3-D family movie 'Hugo'.