After years of developing the project, writer/direct David Twohy and star Vin Diesel finally managed to get the untitled Riddick 3 project off the ground and into production. That is, until (lack of) financing shut down principal photography for two months. Things are back on track now since Once Race Films paid their bills and not only is the crew back shooting, but the film’s cast just grew by two.

Battlestar Galactica star Katee Sackhoff has signed to co-star in the sequel to Chronicles of Riddick as the female lead. Deadline is reporting that Sackhoff will be playing a character named Dahl, a Nordic mercenary on the hunt for Riddick. We can assume female lead also means potential love interest – especially since casting director Anne McCarthy previously described the character as a “sexy female merc” – but with story of Riddick 3 following the character seemingly choosing to live in isolation on a journey to his home world, Sackhoff could be a straight-up antagonist, albeit unlikely.

Either plausibility does work for the story, which takes place directly following the events of Chronicles where Riddick has earned the throne of the Necromongers, who despise him despite his status. Vaako (Karl Urban) returns and offers to help take Riddick to his home planet in exchange for his position but Riddick instead ends up on another barren planet a la Pitch Black where he’s on the run from bounty hunters (and other monsters).

Sackhoff is joined by Jordi Molla (Bad Boys 2Colombiana) who will play Santana, the leader of mercenaries and primary villain of the film. Molla made headlines recently as a top contender for the lead villain role in Star Trek 2 after Benicio Del Toro’s dropped out, but that was instead handed to Benedict Cumberbatch, freeing Molla for this gig since both films begin/re-begin shooting this month.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 12 years since Diesel’s character of Riddick first debut in 2000’s Pitch Black, a cult hit that earned a big budget sequel with The Chronicles of Riddick in 2004. Since the sequel failed to perform at the box office, Diesel carried the franchise on himself through video games and an animated feature, as he holds a special place in his heart for the character. Hopefully the return and booming success of the Fast & Furious franchise will help draw more attention to the return of this one.

Riddick 3 has resumed production in Montreal and will release in 2013.

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Sources: Deadline, Variety