Zoe Saldana has signed on to play Uhura in J.J. Abrams' big-screen adaptation of Star Trek for Paramount Pictures.

In the original Star Trek TV series, Uhura - which means freedom in Swahili -- was a member of the bridge crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise who rose to the rank of commander. Nichelle Nichols played the Starfleet Academy alum in the series.

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Abrams is producing Star Trek, which revolves around the crew's early days at Starfleet Academy, through his Paramount-based Bad Robot shingle.

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci wrote the screenplay and will exec produce alongside Bryan Burk and Damon Lindelof.

The film is set for a Christmas Day 2008 release.

Saldana, whose credits include Guess Who, recently wrapped the Sony thriller Vantage Point. She is filming James Cameron's sci-fi tentpole Avatar.