After flirting briefly with the idea of casting American actress Jessica Biel, 20th Century Fox has now began talks with much lesser known Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova for the role of villainous Viper in James Mangold’s “The Wolverine.” Hugh Jackman returns to the role of the mutant sometimes-X-Men member that made him a superstar in the follow-up to “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, the character’s first solo movie in 2009.
Jackman takes Wolverine to Japan for the sequel, with a mostly Japanese cast joining him thus far: Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hal Yamanouchi, Will Yun Lee and Brian Tee. Lee will play villain Silver Samurai while Okamoto will play his half-sister Mariko, one of the great loves of Wolverine’s life in the comics. Khodchenkova’s Viper is an ally and lover of Silver Samurai, tasked with killing Mariko at one point, and also has a long history of being friend and foe to Wolverine, even manipulating him into marrying her in order to secure her criminal enterprise. With casting seemingly close to completion, “The Wolverine” will begin filming soon in order to meet its July 26th, 2013 release date.
Khodchenkova has worked mostly in her native Russia over the years, but should be recognizable to cinephiles after portraying Tom Hardy’s love interest in Thomas Alfredson’s recent adaptation of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”