Benicio Del Toro is in line to play a leading character in the 'Star Trek' sequel.

The 44-year-old actor - best known for roles in '21 Grams' and 'Traffic' - is set to play an unknown villainous role in the movie, after director J.J. Abrams offered him the opportunity, Variety reports.

Eric Bana performed the lead baddie in the last movie, Romulan character Nero, but he will not be returning as his character died at the end of the first film.

However, the secrecy surrounding the follow-up is so intense even Del Toro does not know exactly what his role will be.

Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana and Zachary Quinto will all be returning to the film, which has been scripted by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof.

Production on the movie is set to begin in early 2012, and although it officially is due in cinemas in December 2012, it is expected the release date will be pushed back.

Speaking about the movie recently, Zachary - who last month came out as gay - said he was preparing to return to the role of Spock.

He said: "'Star Trek 2' is on the imminent horizon. I go back to Los Angeles after this trip and I start to prep for it. We get going in the beginning of the year, so everybody is gearing up. I haven't read The Script yet so it's good, I can't actually tell you anything. I'm not torn or tempted to spill any secrets because I have no idea."