Christoph Waltz in Talks to Star in James Cameron's 'Alita: Battle Angel' (Exclusive)

Robert Rodriguez is directing the movie that is being produced by Cameron.
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Christoph Waltz

Christoph Waltz is in early negotiations to star in Alita: Battle Angel, James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez’s ambitious adaptation of the popular manga graphic novels.

Maze Runner actress Rosa Salazar is on board to play the title character of the potential Fox franchise starter that Rodriguez is directing. Cameron and his Lightstorm Entertainment partner Jon Landau are producing.

Set in the 26th century, Alita tells of a female cyborg (Salazar) that is discovered in a scrapyard by a scientist. With no memory of her previous life except her deadly martial-arts training, the woman becomes a bounty hunter, tracking down criminals. The action-adventure story is meant to serve as a backdrop to themes of self-discovery and the search for love.

If a deal is made, Waltz will play Doctor Dyson Ido, the cybersurgeon who finds the cyborg and becomes her mentor.

Fox is eyeing a fall start for a July 2018 release.

The part will be a change of pace for Waltz, the Oscar-winning actor better known for playing villains. He played the bad guy in this summer’s The Legend of Tarzan and last year's James Bond movie Spectre, but he's been switching directions of late and recently wrapped Alexander Payne's Downsizing and also will appear in the period drama Tulip Fever with Alicia Vikander.

Waltz is repped by ICM Partners.