'Pianist' star steps into Schwarzenegger role

In a surprise, Adrien Brody has been set by 20th Century Fox to play the heroic mercenary who battles alien hunters in “Predators,” the reinvention of the “Predator” franchise that is being creatively spearheaded by Robert Rodriguez.

Brody will star with Alice Braga, Danny Trejo, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali and Louis Ozawa.

Nimrod Antal is directing the film, production of which is about to get under way on location in Hawaii and at Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios in Austin, Texas. Fox has set “Predators” for release on July 9, 2010.

Though best known for his Oscar-winning turn in the Roman Polanski-directed “The Pianist,” Brody is playing a character close to the one that Arnold Schwarzenegger did in the 1987 original. He’s a mercenary who tries to keep his team alive when its members are hunted by the aliens.

Fox has high hopes to spring a new franchise, and Brody has signed options to return for future installments, sources said.

Brody and his Paradigm reps lobbied hard for the role, which is his first action hero turn.

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