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James McAvoy signs on to 'X-Men: First Class'

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Scottish actor James McAvoy (Wanted, Atonement) is pairing up with British director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Kick-Ass) for the next iteration in the X-Men franchise for Twentieth Century Fox. McAvoy has closed his deal to star as Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class, the film that chronicles the younger years of Xavier and Erik Lensherr before they became archenemies Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan).

X-Men: First Class centers on the two young men when they first discovered their powers. At first the two are the closest of friends, working together to stop a huge global threat, but Xavier and Lensherr then become enemies, leading to an eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.

Fox is expected to announce the actor who will play Lensherr shortly. No word yet on whether Hugh Jackman will reprise his role as Wolverine. Bryan Singer, director of both the original X-Men and its sequel X2 will produce along with Lauren Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg. Production is set to begin this summer in London. Fox has set June 3, 2011 for its release.