Another star on the rise this year appears to be Benedict Cumberbatch, the blonde-haired British actor who recently played key parts in both Spielberg's "War Horse" (as Major Stewart) and Tomas Alfredson's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" opposite Gary Oldman, in addition to landing the motion-capture role of Smaug the Dragon in Peter Jackson's two "Hobbit" films (he's also voicing the part of The Necromancer in the prequels). 

Now it appears that another high-profile director - namely J.J. Abrams, coming off a big hit with last year's "Super 8" - fancies Cumberbatch quite a bit as well, as according to Deadline the filmmaker has cast him in a major role (no word yet on what the role is, exactly) in his long-awaited "Star Trek" sequel, due for release on May 17, 2013 in 3D. Cumberbatch will star opposite returning cast members Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and Anton Yelchin, among others. 

Perhaps Cumberbatch's most significant role to date has been playing the title character in the BBC's highly-successful  "Sherlock Holmes" TV series, the second season of which will be broadcast on PBS beginning in May for American audiences. The show's first season was nominated for four Emmys last year, including "Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special" for the episode "A Study in Pink". It also won the BAFTA Television Award for Best Drama Series.

So, will Cumberbatch be playing a hero or a villain in the upcoming sci-fi follow-up? Weigh in with your predictions below...