The role was offered to Jessica Biel last week when all eyes were on San Diego Comic-Con. Yesterday word emerged that negotiations between the Total Recall remake star and 20th Century Fox had broken down, prompting the studio to move on to talks with other, unspecified actresses for the role. It seems director James Mangold found a suitable replacement right quick, because according to Twitch, Khodchenkova is now in talks. Not only that, but apparently her deal is expected to come together very quickly.
Of course, Fox has not yet commented on the casting, and is unlikely to do until everything is official.
Moscow native Khodchenkova is an established star in Russia, but for American audiences, she's probably familiar solely based on her work in Thomas Alfredson's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy last year.
Her European roots ought to serve her well, since in the comics from which she springs, Viper is from an unspecified nation in Eastern Europe. Occasionally known as Madame Hydra, Viper has alternately been both a good and a bad guy, having often been a vital part of the Hydra criminal organization. Her convoluted history with Logan and the X-Men includes supernatural occurrences and even a blackmailed marriage to Wolverine.
If her talks bear fruit, Khodchenkova will join Jackman in the follow-u to 2009's objectively uncool X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This isn't a straight sequel to that prequel, however. Instead, it is based on a crazy-influential 1982 arc by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, following Logan through misadventures in Japan, where the amnesiac loner falls in love, fights with honor like a samurai, and even slices some members of the criminal underground.
Will Yun Lee is set to play the villainous Silver Samuari, while supporting players in the ensemble include the recently-cast Hiroyuki Sanada, Hal Yamanouchi, Tao Okamoto, and Rila Fukushima.
James Mangold came aboard as director after Darren Aronofsky left the project last March. Early, often lauded drafts of the screenplay were written by Oscar-winning The Usual Suspects scribe Christopher McQuarrie, but Life Free or Die Hard writer Mark Bomback carried out rewrites under Mangold's supervision.
Production is scheduled to begin next month in Australia, followed by location filming in Japan. The Wolverine is set for release on July 26, 2013.