The X-Men: First Class casting news is continuing to unfold. This week we heard that actresses Amber Heard (Pineapple Express) and Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day) were rumored for various roles in First Class, and we already know that James McAvoy is playing young Professor X.

Showbiz 411 broke the rumor that actor Michael Fassbender (Centurion) might play young Magneto, and it now seems as though that rumor is a reality. The latest 411 also has Benjamin Walker (Flags of Our Fathers) playing the young version of Hank McCoy, a.k.a. The Beast.

Walker has a short acting resume but is currently lighting up the stage on Broadway, playing former President Andrew Jackson in “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson”. The Beast is one of the original students of Professor Xavier in the X-Men comics and was portrayed by actor Kelsey Grammer in X-Men: The Last Stand. Both Grammer and Walker are graduates of the Juilliard acting school, so Walker should be able to convey the sophisticated intellectualism of Henry McCoy in the same convincing fashion Grammer did.

However, unlike Grammer’s turn as a blue-furred Beast in Last Stand, I expect Walker will play the pre-blue version of the character in First Class. The early versions of Beast depicted him as an apish figure, stocky and hunched, with disproportionately large hands and feet that he used for his ape-like acrobatics. It was only after later experimentation on himself that Beast actually turned blue and grew fur – I say reserve the portion of the budget you would spend on blue body paint for Mystique, and just go with ape-Beast for this prequel.

Meanwhile, the rumor about Michael Fassbender playing young Magneto continues to spread. At first the actor was said to be deciding between First Class and a villain role in Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man reboot, then we heard he was passing on First Class, now Heat Vision Blog reports that Fassbender has in fact entered into early negotiations to play Magneto.

Keep your fingers crossed, because Fassbender would be a good choice for young Magneto, and a perfect foil for James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier.

Stay tuned, as more X-Men: First Class casting news is sure to come. The film starts shooting in August, for release on June 3, 2011. Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) is directing from a script by Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass), Jamie Moss (Street Kings) and Josh Schwartz (Chuck); former X-Men director Bryan Singer came up with the story for the film.

Sources: Heat Vision Blog &