[UPDATE: It’s Official. Russell is in!]

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Kurt Russell was among the most popular leading men in Hollywood. The actor has starred in a number of cult classics – such as Stargate, Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China – but he’s stayed largely off the big screen in the last several years, with his 2007 role as the maniacal Stuntman Mike in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof as his last major film appearance to date.

However, Russell has been staging something of a comeback recently. He nearly appeared in a supporting role in Tarantino’s Django Unchained and is set to appear in Bone Tomahawk alongside Richard Jenkins, Peter Sarsgaard and Jennifer Carpenter. Now it looks like the longtime action hero may be jumping headfirst into one of the biggest film franchises in the world.

According to Variety, Russell is nearly signed to join the cast of none other than Fast & Furious 7. There are currently no details on the character he would be playing, but the role was reportedly first offered to Denzel Washington, indicating that it’s likely more than just a cameo appearance.

With martial arts superstar Tony Jaa and a brand-new villain joining the new film (as well as Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson reprising their roles), the Fast and Furious franchise is developing into an ensemble cast of action icons in the same vein as the Expendables series. The addition of Russell makes sense then, as his filmography is rife with the same kind of testosterone-driven thrill rides. Ironically, Russell reportedly turned down a role in the original Expendables film.

Regardless, this is certainly a major win for the long-running Fast and Furious series and supports the style new director James Wan (Insidious, The Conjuring) will bring to the films. The filmmaker is taking over for Justin Lin – who directed the last four Fast and Furious adventures – and previously announced that he views the film as a “gritty 70s revenge thriller.” Fast Five previously reinvigorated the franchise by dropping the focus on street racing and including globe-trotting and heist elements. Therefore, Wan’s decision to bring in new blood while tweaking the tone a bit could go a long way to keeping the series fresh.

Is bringing Russell into Fast & Furious 7 a smart move, or does the new film already sound too crowded? Let us know in the comments section below.

Fast & Furious 7 is set to race into theaters on July 11, 2014.

Source: Variety