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James McAvoy is young Charles Xavier in “X-Men: First Class”

Matthew Vaughn's recently green lit prequel X-Men: First Class has its first cast member: James McAvoy. The 31-year-old Scot, star of Mark Millar comic adaptation Wanted, will play a younger Charles Xavier aka Professor X, the role originated by Patrick Stewart in the first three X-Men films.

Fox told THR's Heat Vision blog that “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.” 

The production is moving along at Juggernaut pace. Fox, along with producer and former franchise director Bryan Singer who wrote the film's story, hired Vaughn earlier this month and filming is set to begin in London this summer. As such, look for a slew of casting announcements (or a release with a whole bunch of names) in the coming weeks. X-Men: First Class is set to come out one year and one week from now on June 3, 2011. Meanwhile, you can catch McAvoy in Robert Redford's upcoming Lincoln assassination drama The Conspirators later this year.

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