Jonathan Rhys Meyers will star as the mysterious hero of Omega Entertainment and Baldwin Entertainment Group's Mandrake the Magician, with The Scorpion King helmer Chuck Russell behind the camera, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Billed as an updated take on the classic Hearst comic book, the Mandrake character is an extreme escape artist embroiled in international espionage.

Mandrake the Magician marks the first picture to result from Omega and Baldwin's first-look production deal.

The film is scheduled to shoot early next year in China and the U.S.

"This is a rare opportunity to reinvent one of the all-time classic comic book characters and create a new kind of hero for international audiences," Russell said. At one point, illusionist Criss Angel was slated to star as Mandrake.

In the comics Mandrake was an illusionist whose work was based on an impossibly fast hypnotic technique. As the narrator informed us: "Mandrake gestured hypnotically" and the subject or subjects of this hypnosis would suddenly see the illusions he wanted. Mandrake fought criminals and other villains in his spare time. This would include common gangsters, mad scientists, and aliens from outer space or other dimensions.

The character was created in 1934 by Lee Falk, who also created The Phantom.