(Update 2:40 p.m. PST: Simon Pegg has closed a deal to reprise his role as lab geek Benji Dunn in the latest "Mission: Impossible" sequel, an individual familiar with the project has told TheWrap. There had been some doubts whether Pegg would return, as the "Star Trek" star told journalists at Comic-Con in July that "M:I:4 is up in the air ... That's been announced but my deal is not in place." Well fans can now consider his participation in the film confirmed.)
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" star Michael Nyqvist is in final talks to play the main villain in the latest installment of Paramount's "Mission: Impossible" franchise, the studio has confirmed exclusively to TheWrap.
According to the Australian website What's Playing, which first reported Nyqvist's casting, "Mission" star/producer Tom Cruise and director Brad Bird loved Nyqvist's performance as crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist in the Swedish thriller, and reached out to the actor directly.
What's Playing cites a Paramount insider who describes the character as a "very charming, but calculating bad guy. Not your typical spy-film villain." Personally, that's why I enjoyed J.J. Abrams' "M:I:3" so much -- because Philip Seymour Hoffman was an atypical antagonist and a worthy adversary of Cruise who provided more of a mental challenge than a physical one.
That's not to say that the new "Mission: Impossible" won't feature any memorable action scenes, as the script reportedly features a "terrific, 5-page fight sequence at the end of the film -- brutal, brutal stuff."
Cruise is also said to be using his star power to recruit a big name star into playing the head of IMF, a part that was previously played by Jon Voight, Anthony Hopkins and Laurence Fishburne. Offers are reportedly out to some heavyweights.
JoBlo suggests bringing Gene Hackman or Warren Beatty out of their self-imposed retirements, but I'd like to see Cruise re-team with his "A Few Good Men" co-star Jack Nicholson. Interestingly enough, Deal Central hears that those two may be eyeing a reunion on an entirely different project, but take that rumor with a giant grain of salt for now.
As for that pesky title, while pre-production is under way using the title "Aries," What's Playing reports that the film will eventually be called "Mission Impossible: Something," which means that the colon will be moving. Exciting stuff! The site says that movie definitely won't be called "The Mission," although I have to say, that would work well for Bird's franchise reboot of sorts.
Cruise is currently in Prague scouting locations and possibly supervising some second-unit stuff, according to What's Playing. Production is also scheduled for Dubai and Vancouver.
The fourth "Mission: Impossible" movie is scheduled for release on Dec. 16, 2011.