According to Variety, Billy Crudup has been set for a lead role in Mission: Impossible 3, which J.J. Abrams began directing in July for a May 2 release.

Crudup will assume the role after completing a part in the Robert De Niro-directed The Good Shepherd for Universal and Morgan Creek. De Niro courted him for that role after producing Stage Beauty.

Crudup also previously worked with Mission: Impossible 3 producers Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner on the Robert Towne-directed Without Limits, a C/W production in which he played track star Steve Prefontaine.

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Mission: Impossible 3 stars Cruise, Ving Rhames, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Keri Russell.

Crudup will next be seen starring alongside Julianne Moore and Maggie Gyllenhaal in "Trust the Man," which bows at the Toronto Film Festival.

Brian B.