Bettany dons 'Priest' collar


Paul Bettany is in negotiations to star in "Priest," a horror Western that Michael De Luca and Stars Road Entertainment's Josh Donen are producing for Screen Gems. Mitchell Peck also will produce.

The move would reunite Bettany with director Scott Stewart, for whom he just finished starring in "Legion," an upcoming Screen Gems supernatural thriller.

An adaptation of a TokyoPop comic book, "Priest" is set in a world ravaged by centuries of war between man and vampires and follows a warrior priest (Bettany) who turns against the church to track down a murderous band of vampires who have kidnapped his niece. Cory Goodman ("The Brood") wrote the screenplay.

"I knew the moment I saw Stewart's first cut of 'Legion' that Bettany was Priest, and so I mentioned it to him immediately," Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper said.

"Legion," set to open in January, is about a group of misfits and an arcangel who try to prevent humanity from being wiped out by angels.

Culpepper and senior vp production Eric Paquette are overseeing the project.

Josh Bratman, who brought the script to De Luca, is co- producing.

Bettany, repped by Endeavor and Affirmative Entertainment, stars opposite Emily Blunt in "The Young Victoria," a period piece focused on the early years of Queen Victoria's reign. The pic opened this month in the U.K.

Bettany is repped in the U.K. by Independent Talent Group. (partialdiff)