New Mutants Added To 'X-Men 2'

Nightcrawler, Pyro added to 'X-Men' sequel.

The list of mutants set to appear in "X2," the hotly anticipated "X-Men" sequel, continues to evolve. The blue-furred Nightcrawler and the flame-controlling Pyro have just been added to a cast that already included such colorful characters as Cyclops and Rogue.

"I'm definitely doing it," said up-and-coming actor Aaron Stanford, excited to have won the Pyro part. "I think it's going to be exciting."

According to his agent, Scottish-born actor Alan Cumming ("Spy Kids") will play the acrobatic and elf-like Nightcrawler, whose mutant ability allows him to teleport accompanied by a "bamf!" sound and the smell of brimstone. A spokesperson for Ethan Embry ("Can't Hardly Wait") confirmed that Embry was in talks for the role, but it is in fact Cumming who will be playing him. Cumming also wrote, directed, produced and starred (alongside Gwyneth Paltrow) in 2001's "The Anniversary Party."

Aaron Stanford's previous credits include a starring turn in the coming-of-age indie flick "Tadpole" as well as a part in Woody Allen's "Hollywood Ending."

"I dug it," Stanford said of director Bryan Singer's 2000 "X-Men" adaptation. "I never read too many comic books when I was growing up but I think everyone loved Wolverine, you know what I'm saying? I was pretty into him, too."

In the well-established and often convoluted "X-Men" lore found within the Marvel comic's continuity, Pyro was a rambunctious villain with the ability to control fire who was a onetime ally of Mystique. He eventually succumbed to the Legacy Virus, a mutant-only disease that posed a danger to all of the series' main characters.

"I just got a package from Marvel in the mail," Stanford said. "The thing is, the character of Pyro is so completely different. In the comic book he's this Australian ex-pulp novelist professional criminal and in the movie it's a very different character." Restricted by confidentiality agreements, Stanford could not elaborate. "I can [only] tell you that he is different than he is in the comic book," he said.

Some of the original blockbuster's stars set to return include recent Oscar winner Halle Berry as Storm, "Star Trek" veteran Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Ian McKellen of "The Lord of the Rings" as Magneto and Wolverine himself Hugh Jackman, who used the success of "X-Men" to propel him to superstar status. As Stanford put it, coming aboard an "X-Men" movie means that sequels are "pretty much part of the deal."

"X2" is tentatively scheduled for a summer 2003 release.