James McAvoy playing Professor X in "X-Men" film

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - James McAvoy has joined the cast of “X-Men: First Class,” a prequel to Fox’s superhero trilogy.

The British actor, last in theaters with “The Last Station,” will play a young Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X, a role originated by Patrick Stewart in the preceding films.

According to Fox, “First Class” will “chart the epic beginning of the X-Men saga. Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were the closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.”

Patrick Stewart’s character was a bald, wheelchair-bound telepath. Fox did not say if McAvoy would sport a follicle-free pate.

The studio is moving fast on the production, hiring director Matthew Vaughn in early May and planning a summer start in London. The movie is set for a June 3, 2011, release.