James McAvoy to star in 'X-Men: First Class'

Actor will play a young Professor X in prequel

James McAvoy has signed on to play a young Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, in "X-Men: First Class," which Matthew Vaughn is directing for Fox.

According to Fox, "First Class" will "chart the epic beginning of the X-Men saga. Before Charles Xavier and Eric Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were the closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto's Brotherhood and Professor X's X-Men."

Patrick Stewart played the character, a bald-headed, wheelchair-bound telepath, in the original "X-Men" trilogy. Fox did not reveal if McAvoy will sport a follicle-free pate.

Fox is moving fast on the production, hiring Vaughn in early May and planning a summer start in London. The movie is being planned for a June 3, 2011, release.

Bryan Singer, who conceived the story for "First Class," is producing along with Lauren Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg.

McAvoy already has comic book movie experience, having starred in "Wanted." The British actor was last seen in "The Last Station."
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