Abrams Beams Up Saldana For 'STXI'

The future just got a lot prettier--Zoe Saldana has signed on to play Uhura in J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek flick.
Variety's Tatiana Siegel and Boris Kit of the Hollywood Reporter (among others) are now reporting that Saldana (Pirates of the Caribbean) is in final negotiations to play Uhura, the chief communications officer on the USS Enterprise, in Film #11 of Paramount Pictures' Star Trek movie series, to be directed by J.J. Abrams.

The 29-year-old New Jersey native will join Anton Yelchin as a young Russian-born navigator Chekov, as well as Heroes' chief villain Zachary Quinto as a young Spock, in the film chronicling the early days of the Enterprise crew.

(As to how this can be the story of a group of people who didn't KNOW each other in their early days: rumors suggest that the film will be set in an alternate universe, and thus not contradict established Trek continuity. However, key plotlines are still being kept tightly under wraps.)

The 76-year-old Leonard Nimoy, who originated the role of Spock, is on board for a beefy cameo in the new film.

Uhuru (which means "freedom" in Swahili), a citizen of the "United States of Africa," was famously embodied by Nichelle Nichols on both the big and small screens. Nichols has proudly admitted that she would have left the franchise early on if not for the personal entreaties of Martin Luther King, Jr.

No official word has been given on who will play the young James Kirk or if William Shatner will appear in the film.

The as-yet untitled Star Trek film is the 11th big screen version of the TV show but marks a "new frontier" with the prequel-centric storyline and with wunderkind Abrams at the helm.

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Transformers) penned the screenplay and will executive produce along with Bryan Burk and Damon Lindelof. The film is scheduled to bow on Christmas Day 2008.

Saldana is one of the stars of James Cameron's first nondocumentary directorial effort since Titanic, the 3-D fantasy Avatar, about a paralyzed war veteran who leads a human brigade into battle against an alien army.

Saldana will be back on the big screen in February in the presidential-assassination thriller Vantage Point, with Forest Whitaker, Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox.

[Thanks to Natalie Finn, Paul Goebel and Shawn Adler for additional material.]
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Hollywood Reporter