Mike Bruno
February 02, 2009 AT 05:03 PM EST

Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) has been cast as Zuko in the M. Night Shyamalan-directed live-action adaptation of the Nick TV series The Last Airbender, according to Variety. The actor steps into a role initially set for actor-singer Jesse McCartney, who backed away due to conflicts with his tour schedule. Patel joins newcomer Noah Ringer, who landed the lead role of Aang off of an Internet audition, as well as Nicola Peltz (Deck the Halls), Jackson Rathbone (Twilight), and Jessica Jade Andres, who had a small part in The Women and on Gossip Girl. Production begins in mid-March in Greenland for a July 2010 release.

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