Robert Carlyle is next 'Stargate' leader

Actor cast in third installment of the Sci Fi franchise

Robert Carlyle has been tapped as the lead in Sci Fi Channel's new series "Stargate Universe."

"SGU," the third installment in the cable channel's "Stargate" franchise, hails from "Stargate SG-1" and "Stargate Atlantis" co-creators Brad Wright and Robert Cooper, who will write and executive produce the new series.

Sci Fi Channel is expected to give the MGM TV-produced "SGU" a 20-episode order.

Production on the series is slated to begin in February in Vancouver. It is targeted to launch in the summer with a two-hour premiere.

Described as edgier, darker and younger-skewing than its predecessors, "SGU" follows a group of soldiers, scientists and civilians left to fend for themselves when forced through a Stargate after their hidden base comes under attack. The survivors, who emerge aboard an ancient ship missing in the far reaches of space, are led by Dr. David Rush (Carlyle), who works to unlock the ship's mysteries and return the group home but also might have ulterior motives.

The network had said it was looking to cast a well-known actor as Rush and fresh faces to play the rest of the ship's crew.

"Robert Carlyle brings a depth, intelligence and complexity to his roles, which will fit perfectly with the fresh, new reinvention of this franchise," Sci Fi original-programming chief Mark Stern said.

Scotland-born Carlyle, best known for his roles in "Trainspotting" and "The Full Monty," recently starred opposite Kiefer Sutherland in Fox's "24: Redemption." He is repped by Gersh, manager Jon Rubinstein and the U.K.'s Christian Hodell.