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Despicable Me 2 lost an Oscar winner when Javier Bardem passed on the opportunity to voice the lead villain in the animated sequel. Good thing there are so many Oscar winners just lying around waiting to be employed. Now Universal Pictures has announced that Al Pacino will replace Bardem in the feature directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin.

Pacino will join previous Despicable stars Steve Carell and Russell Brand in a comedy that also stars Kristen Wiig and Miranda Cosgrove in supporting roles, according to a press release given to Coming Soon. Bardem, at the time, was supposed to voice El Macho, an evil genius who has sons -- in much the same way that Carell’s character, Gru, has daughters. But given the fact that Pacino’s an unlikely actor to assume a Spanish accent, I’m guessing writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio will enact a few clever rewrites to fit the Hollywood icon’s personality.

It’s kind of unbelievable, given his distinct gravel and recognizable delivery, that Pacino hasn’t been asked to voice an animated character before over the course of his illustrious career. This could be a major win for the producers of the sequel, who perfectly tailored Carell’s voice to Gru and have a shot to do something extraordinary with Pacino.

Despicable Me earned a whopping $543 million worldwide. It’s sequel is gearing up for a July 3, 2013 release date, putting it in prime position to match – or even surpass – the box office of its predecessor. Until then, look for Pacino in Stand-Up Guys and Luis Mandoki’s Mary, Mother of Christ, where he hopefully overacts in the role of King Herod.

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