Edgar Ramirez Named as Front Runner to Replace Benicio Del Toro as STAR TREK 2 Villain

Several days ago it was revealed that Academy Award winning actor Benicio Del Toro had bowed out of the highly anticipated sci-fi sequel from director JJ Abrams; now it's being reported that Ramirez may take his place.

Paramount Pictures has locked Star Trek 2 for 3D theatrical release on May 17, 2013. The film, which will begin production in early 2012, will also be shot in 3D. The entirety of the main cast, including Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg and Zachary Quinto, are expected to reprise their roles.

Negotiations with Benicio Del Toro recently fell through for him to play the yet-to-be-revealed villain in the upcoming project. Though director J.J. Abrams has stated that the villain will not be fan-favorite Khan -- originally played on screen by Ricardo Montalban -- other conflicting reports have also surfaced.

Now Edgar Ramirez (Carlos, Domino) has been named as the top contender to take over the role from Del Toro, with Jordi Molla (Colombiana) also in consideration. Ramirez is said to be testing for the part over the next two days since Paramount Pictures is hoping to lock the part down soon. Alice Eve (She's Out of My League) has landed a major role in the film for a character that is apparently new to the Star Trek universe; Peter Weller of Robocop fame has also joined the cast. JJ Abrams will direct the film and Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof are returning for the script duties.