'X-Men 3' Casting News: Soccer Star, Sure ... But Frasier Crane?

Kelsey Grammer set to play blue furry Beast in third 'X-Men' film.

We get a lumbering former soccer player stepping into the hulking body of Juggernaut, a 900-pound metallic battering ram. But Frasier as a blue furry mutant?

According to Variety, former "Frasier" star Kelsey Grammer has signed on to play Beast in the upcoming third installment of the "X-Men" franchise.

It will be the first appearance in the series for Beast, a powerful 350-pound mutant with oversized hands and feet and blue fur. Beast doesn't have any special powers, but he is highly intelligent and very strong.

Former British soccer player Vinnie Jones ("Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels") will play bad guy Juggernaut, the virtually unstoppable 6-foot-10 leader of Magneto's bad-boy posse — and half brother of Professor X.

Grammer, known for playing the egg-headed psychiatrist Frasier Crane on "Cheers" and "Frasier" for 20 years, was actually a natural to play Beast, according to "X-Men" producer Avi Arad.

"Kelsey was born to play the role," Arad told Variety, pointing to the creature's intelligence and his origin as a pacifist genetic researcher named Hank McCoy. "This is a big role in the new movie, and when we met with him, you can see that Kelsey has that you'd-better-have-a-dictionary-handy intelligence."

The movie is being directed by Matthew Vaughn ("Layer Cake") and is expected to open on Memorial Day 2006. To date, Patrick Stewart (Professor Charles Xavier), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman), Daniel Cudmore (Colossus), Alan Cumming (Nightcrawler) and Famke Janssen (Dr. Jean Grey) are expected to appear in the film. It has not yet been announced if Hugh Jackman will return as Wolverine or if Halle Berry will reprise her role as Storm (see "Holy Franchises, Batman! Superhero Sequels Galore On The Way").

Variety also reported that producers have begun negotiations with "Lost" actress Maggie Grace for the role of Pryde, whose powers include the ability to walk through walls.

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