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Brad Renfro will star in ''Freddy vs. Jason''

Brad Renfro will star in ”Freddy vs. Jason.” The ”Client” star will be caught between the two franchise villains when the long-awaited project starts filming in September

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After seven years in hell, or at least in development limbo, ”Freddy vs. Jason” finally has a production start date and a leading man. The face-off between the classic horror franchise villains will begin shooting Sept. 9 in Vancouver, Variety reports. Robert Englund will return for the eighth time as ”Nightmare on Elm Street” dream-invader Freddy Krueger, while director Ronny Hu (”Bride of Chucky,” ”The Bride With White Hair”) has told Entertainment Weekly that Kane Hodder will return for his fifth turn as hockey-masked ”Friday the 13th” slasher Jason Voorhees. Caught between them, according to Variety, will be Brad Renfro, the ”Ghost World” and ”Deuces Wild” actor best known for his starring debut in ”The Client.”

New Line Cinema, which owns the rights to both characters, has been hinting at this monster matchup since 1993 and developing scripts since at least 1996. But the project remained back-burnered until the moderate success of this spring’s ”Jason X” showed that there was still some life left in the unkillable baddie. The rush by other studios to greenlight dueling-franchise projects like ”Batman vs. Superman” and ”Alien vs. Predator” also gave the project some urgency; that Sept. 9 date means ”Freddy vs. Jason” should be the first of these three celebrity deathmatches to go into production, and the first into theaters, arriving in summer 2003.

The two villains, who have a combined 17 movies behind them, will meet when Freddy, trapped in hell, sends Jason to his old stomping grounds on Elm Street, Yu told EW. ”But Jason’s not easy to deal with,” Yu said. The movie will climax in what Yu called a ”WWE smackdown” on Jason’s old hunting grounds, Camp Crystal Lake. Whether Renfro’s character will survive the clash of the titans is unclear.

In real life, Renfro has fought his own demons. The actor, who turned 20 last week, has been arrested numerous times for drug possession and underage drinking and has spent time behind bars. Most recently, he was sentenced to three months in rehab this winter after a drunk driving arrest violated his probation over an earlier incident, in which he attempted to joyride in a yacht that he forgot to untie from a Florida dock.