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Johannson, Branagh join ''M:I 3'' cast

Johannson, Branagh join ”M:I 3” cast. Scarlett would play an ally of Tom Cruise’s spy, while Kenneth’s role is top secret

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Scarlett Johansson is following up ”Lost in Translation” and ”Girl With a Pearl Earring” with another screen pairing with a middle-aged man: 41-year-old Tom Cruise. The 19-year-old actress, last seen masterminding an operation to steal the answers to the SATs in ”The Perfect Score,” is joining the cast of ”Mission: Impossible 3,” Variety reports. She’ll play an ally of Cruise’s agent Ethan Hunt in the movie, which ”Narc” director Joe Carnahan will shoot in August for a release next May.

Also joining the cast is Kenneth Branagh, whose role is apparently top secret, though as the token British master thespian in the cast, he’s expected to play the villain. Branagh and Johansson round out a cast that also includes Cruise, franchise veteran Ving Rhames, and recent addition Carrie-Anne Moss. Sounds like there’ll be not one but two strong female characters in the film, something almost unprecedented for a Tom Cruise movie.