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Gambit Bella Donna Boudreaux casting, explainer

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Marvel; Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images; Samir Hussein/WireImage; Don Arnold/WireImage

Now that fears of Channing Tatum leaving the Gambit adaptation have been put to rest, the film appears to be moving full steam ahead in casting supporting characters.

Whether that means there will be cameos from other X-Men (as is the case with Colossus in Deadpool) remains to be seen, EW can confirm that three actress are being considered for the role of Bella Donna Boudreaux. As Deadline originally reported, Rebecca Ferguson, who stole scenes in Mission: Impossible — Rogue NationSpectre‘s Lea Seydoux, and Abbey Lee, who appeared in Mad Max: Fury Road, are all being considered.

Beyond who eventually lands the role, however, there may be a bigger question for fans who haven’t delved into the comics: Who exactly is Bella Donna Boudreaux and how does she fit into the X-Men canon?

Even in the greater X-Men mythos, Bella Donna is largely essential to Gambit’s story and his alone. The two grew up together in New Orleans, but as members of rival guilds, Gambit in the Thieves’ Guild and Bella in the Assassins’ Guild. Both Gambit (his original name is Remy LeBeau) and Bella’s fathers arranged for the two to be married in order to ease tensions. Unfortunately, Bella’s brother Julien was less than pleased by their marriage, and so he challenged Remy to a duel to the death, which was a foolish and ultimately fatal move on Julien’s part. The marriage is put on hold, however, when Remy is exiled from New Orleans as a result of Julien’s murder.

Bella appears again later in Remy’s life, the two still inextricably linked, and despite the ups and downs of their relationship — Remy believing Bella to be dead only for her to actually be in a coma, and Bella murdering Rogue’s boyfriend, for example — she ultimately remains in love with him. (Bella also appeared briefly in the 90’s X-Men animated TV show.)

Bella has crossed paths with other mutants, like Psylocke and Bandit (the former will also soon mean a lot to fans of the X-Men films), but she has primarily been integral to Gambit’s story. Bella is also a mutant herself — she can astrally project herself (think Professor X or Jean Grey) and fire off blasts of plasma. 

That leaves whoever fills Bella Donna’s shoes having to likely balance both the light and dark inherent in the character’s story. If the film adheres to her origins, there will certainly be heartache in Bella’s cinematic future, and whoever portrays her will have to strike the right combination of sympathetic lead and dangerous threat. Ferguson might be an obvious choice, as Ilsa Faust was exactly that in Rogue Nation.

While Seydoux has received acclaim for her sexy and vulnerable turn in Blue Is the Warmest ColorSpectre might be the best test case for whether her action chops are up to task. (Though she’s no stranger to blockbuster action films, appeared in a crucial Bond Girl-type role in Ghost Protocol).

Lee may be the biggest wild card; her role as one of Immortan Joe’s wives in Fury Road (she honored the Keeper of the Seeds’ memory) doesn’t offer nearly as much evidence as Seydoux or Ferguson’s work does. But she is set to star in an upcoming Nicolas Winding Refn film, as well as the action film Gods of Egypt.

Gambit is currently slated to hit theaters in October 2016. 

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