After literally years of waiting, fans were quite happy to receive the news earlier this week that principal photography has at last commenced on The Dark Knight Rises, director Christopher Nolan’s finale to his Batman trilogy.

However, just because shooting has begun on the hotly-anticipated project does not mean that casting is complete yet – in fact, three more thespians have now joined the film’s cast.

Variety has confirmed that the likes of Full Metal Jacket‘s Matthew Modine (insert obligatory joke about “The Joker” appearing in Dark Knight Rises), elder actor Tom Conti (The Tempest), and 11-year-old actress Joey King (Ramona and Beezus) have officially signed on for Nolan’s third Batman movie. Modine will be playing a character named “Nixon”; the other roles are being firmly kept under wraps for now.

The only relatively non-obscure reference to any sort of “Nixon character” in the original Batman comics was when a convenience store robber wore a Richard Nixon mask in The Dark Knight Returns – so unless Modine is playing a criminal bearing similar attire in Dark Knight Rises, it’s presumably safe to say that his character was essentially invented by Nolan.

Speaking of Dark Knight Returns: that Frank Miller graphic novel also introduced the world to then 13-year old Carrie Kelley, a.k.a. the first full-time female Robin. A number of fans previously speculated that Juno Temple might be playing the character in Dark Knight Rises – though King is actually closer in age. However, it’s very unlikely that Carrie Kelley will appear in Nolan’s new film – without being reworked significantly, at least. Chances are better that King is playing either a slightly older version of Jim Gordan’s daughter Barbara (which would also indicate how much time had passed since the events of The Dark Knight) or another, possibly nameless, young female character entirely.

Carrie Kelley first appeared in 'The Dark Knight Returns'

Yesterday, fans got an early and unexpected treat in the form of a first look at Tom Hardy as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises – and that image alone was enough to kick off further speculation about how the villain will function in Nolan’s film. Now we just have to wait until an early image of Anne Hathaway in her (presumably, skin-tight) Catwoman outfit is released for the Internet to explode again. Moving on…

The Dark Knight Rises cast will feature franchise veterans Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Nestor Carbonell. Newcomers to Nolan’s Batman series include Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Juno Temple, Josh Pence, Daniel Sunjata, Burn Gorman, Diego Klattenhoff, and Alon Aboutboul.

For a breakdown of rumors versus concrete information released concerning Nolan’s new comic book film, check out our Dark Knight Rises status report.

The Dark Knight Rises in theaters on July 20th, 2012.

Source: Variety