Idris Elba Taking Over for Morgan Freeman as Dr. Alex Cross

Novelist James Patterson's best known protagonist, the star of films like "Along Came Spider" and "Kiss the Girls," now has "Wire" alum Idris Elba filling his shoes.

Elba will take over from Morgan Freeman in the title role of "Cross," in which he'll hunt down a serial rapist who may have murdered his own pregnant wife years before, reported Deadline.

Neither "Spider" nor "Girls" were particularly good, the sort of movies almost made for heavy Saturday afternoon rotation on HBO. But franchises centered around black actors are few and far between, so this could be a huge step up for Elba.

Fans of "The Wire" know Elba best as Stringer Bell, the brains behind Avon Barksdale's East Baltimore cocaine empire. But since the show's demise, Elba's slowly emerged as its breakout star. He's racked up about more than a dozen film roles since 2005, including "28 Weeks Later," "RocknRolla,"  and the upcoming "Thor."

"Cross" goes into production in the spring of 2011, in the meantime you can next see Elba Aug. 27 in "Takers," as a member of a gang of bank robbers.

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