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When we learned that several young actors were in the running to play Tom Cruise's sidekick in Mission: Impossible 4, it turned out that Jeremy Renner just swooped in and took the role away from all of them. That's not happening with the female lead, though; we learned a few days ago that Paula Patton was in the running alongside a few others for the role, and now Deadline reports that she's snagged it.

The actress will play a young operative working alongside Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, presumably in addition to whoever Jeremy Renner is playing. Patton had a few people rooting for her as a surprise Best Supporting Actress nominee for Precious last year, as Precious's beatific, beautiful teacher, and I actually thought she was pretty great as the shallow friend in this spring's Queen Latifah vehicle Just Wright. Now Patton should prepare to get exposed to a much, much bigger audience, though if Keri Russell's fate at the beginning of Mission: Impossible 3 is serving as a template, Patton's time in the movie may wind up cut short in the end.

Casting is happening quickly for the film which is set to start shooting in the fall, with Brad Bird directing. I'm crossing my fingers for an announcement about who will play the villain next.
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