Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter

Hot on the heels of the big announcement that Heath Ledger will play the Joker in director Christopher Nolan's'Batman Begins' sequel 'The Dark Knight,' Warner Bros. announced today that British actress Helena Bonham Carter ('The Wings of the Dove') has officially joined the cast of the fifth film in the 'Potter' franchise, 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.'

Carter will play Bellatrix Lestrange, Sirius Black's (Gary Oldman) cousin and, incidentally, a Death Eater, aka one of Lord Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) vile minions. But Bellatrix is just one of the problems Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) faces in his fifth year at Hogwarts; the others include a gargantuan crush on a Ravenclaw girl, unraveling the meaning of the prophecy of the mysterious Order of the Phoenix and battling a little someone known as Lord Voldemort. The film, directed by David Yates, is due in theaters July 13, 2007.

In other casting news, Nicole Kidman and Eva Green (aka the new Bond girl in 'Casino Royale') have signed on for roles in 'The Golden Compass,' the first in a possilbe trilogy of epic fantasy films based on author Phillip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' books. Green will play Serafina Pekula, a good witch who guides a young girl named Lyra (newcomer Dakota Blue Richards) on a quest to save the world. Kidman will play Mrs. Coulter, also a witch -- but of the decidedly not-so-nice variety. The movie, which is budgeted at $150 million, will be directed by Chris Weitz ('About a Boy') and is set for release on Nov. 17, 2007.

And finally, Daniel Radcliffe -- yes, Harry Potter himself -- will make his stage debut in 'Equus,' a role which will require him to simulate sexual ecstasy while riding a horse buck naked. Word on the street: All the girls at Hogwarts are clamoring for a class trip to see it.

Tags: Batman, Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Helena Bonham Carter, Daniel Radcliffe, Summer Movies

categories Features, Cinematical