With 'X-Men: Apocalypse,' Kodi Smit-McPhee teleports to superhero role

Australian actor Kodi Smit-McPhee will make the superhero leap as a young Nightcrawler in 'X-Men: Apocalypse'

In a puff of smoke and the blink of an eye, Kodi Smit-McPhee has teleported in time from child prestige actor to superhero tent-pole movie star.

The 18-year-old Australian actor has been cast as the blue-hued, dimension-hopping mutant Nightcrawler in "X-Men: Apocalypse," director Bryan Singer announced on Instagram late Tuesday.

Smit-McPhee, who said in his own Instagram post that he was "humbled and honored to be joining this incredible project," is best known for quiet, haunting performances in grim, arty dramas such as "Romulus, My Father," "The Road" and "Let Me In."

He also voiced the main character in Tim Burton's 2012 animated movie "ParaNorman" and had a small role in the 2014 summer blockbuster "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

But joining the "X-Men" franchise, which has grossed more than $3 billion in worldwide ticket sales, is a significant leap for a young actor who's largely undefined in the public imagination.

Smit-McPhee will be exposed to a large international audience, although he'll likely be acting through indigo-complexioned makeup and possibly even prosthetics, if the comic book incarnation of Nightcrawler is any indication. In that sense, he's in a similar boat as fellow "X-Men" newcomer Oscar Isaac, who is on board to play the gray-skinned, shapeshifting villain of the film's title.

Although "Apocalypse" looks primed to boost a new generation of young actors, including Sophie Turner (as Jean Grey), Alexandra Shipp (Storm) and Tye Sheridan (Cyclops), there's only so much screen time to go around, and the principal cast is already stocked: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, Nicholas Hoult and Rose Byrne are all reprising their roles from previous "X" installments.

Part of the fun of Nightcrawler's character, of course, is that one can never be sure where he'll turn up next. For now, the same could be said of McPhee.

"X-Men: Apocalypse" is due in theaters May 27, 2016.

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