Marvel Studios has announced that Star Wars star Natalie Portman will be playing the love interest in Kenneth Branagh's big screen version of Thor.
Portman will star as nurse Jane Foster, the human woman who became Thor's love interest in the early Marvel Comics. The film version of the heroic god of thunder comic will star Chris Hemsworth as the hammer-wielding superhero.
Previous reports had Green Lantern runner-up Justin Timberlake's squeeze Jessica Biel up for a role as Thor's love interest.
Thor is not the first comic book adaptation for Portman; the actress also starred in V For Vendetta, the movie version of Alan Moore's influential graphic novel. The fact that she has been cast as Jane Foster, however, ends months of vague speculation about whether or not Thor would be set entirely on Earth, in the mystical realm of Asgard (kingdom of the Norse gods), or some combination of the two locales. From the official Marvel press release:
Marvel Studios expands its film universe with a new type of superhero: Thor. This epic adventure spans the Marvel Universe; from present-day Earth to the realm of Asgard. At the center of the story is the Mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. Thor is cast down to Earth and forced to live among humans as punishment. Once here, Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends the darkest forces of Asgard to invade Earth.
There's also a certain real-life irony in Portman's be cast, as she's about to start shooting Your Highness in Kenneth Branagh's home town in Belfast, Ireland. Branagh is a highly successful actor-director who has starred in, and directed numerous Shakespeare adaptations as well as starring in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as well as The Gingerbread Man, alongside Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr.
Thor opens on May, 20 2011.