Idris Elba to Replace Morgan Freeman as Dr. Alex Cross

David Twohy will direct the latest James Patterson adaptation from a script by Kerry Williamson

Dr. Alex Cross is returning to the big screen and fortunately, Hollywood has found the perfect leading man to step into Morgan Freeman's considerably-sized shoes.

"The Wire" star Idris Elba will play the famed sleuth in "Cross," which David Twohy ("Pitch Black") will direct from a script by Kerry Williamson, the actor's representation at ICM has confirmed to TheWrap.

I've read every single book in James Patterson's best-selling series so few reporters are more qualified to judge this casting, and let me tell you — it is awesome!

"Cross" isn't among my favorite books in the series ("Roses Are Red" would've been cooler, but I see how "Cross" better serves as a reintroduction to the character) but that is of little importance. What is important is that Hollywood is serious about this franchise again.

In "Cross," the good doctor tracks a serial rapist who may have murdered his pregnant wife years before.

Lloyd Levin and Leopoldo Gout will produce the adaptation with Steve Bowen and Patterson. The project will be privately financed and production is expected to begin next spring.

Distribution is still up in the air, but Paramount released previous entries "Kiss the Girls" in 1997 and "Along Came a Spider" in 2001, so that studio remains a distinct possibility.

Elba is a terrific actor who has starred on the big screen in "RocknRolla," "The Losers" and the guilty pleasure "Obsessed." He next stars in Screen Gems' upcoming heist film "Takers," and recently wrapped the role of Heimdall in Marvel's "Thor."

Best known for playing Stringer Bell on "The Wire," Elba also recently appeared as no-nonsense manager Charles Miner on NBC's "The Office," and he currently plays a British detective on BBC America's dramatic miniseries "Luther." He'll also play Laura Linney's love interest in an upcoming arc on Showtime's "The Big C."

ICM represents Twohy and Elba, who is also represented by The Schiff Company and Ken McReddie Associates.

The news was first reported by Deadline.