LOS ANGELES – Stuart Townsend has departed Marvel Comics' movie adaptation of "Thor" because of creative differences, according to sources close to the production.
Townsend had been cast as Fandral, an ally of Norse god Thor. He was replaced by Joshua Dallas, according to the two sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.
The cast change came as production was about to begin. Shooting starts Monday on the movie directed by Kenneth Branagh.
Irish actor Townsend, 37, best known as the boyfriend of Academy Award winner Charlize Theron, starred in "Queen of the Damned." He had been cast as Aragorn in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy but was replaced at the last minute by Viggo Mortensen.
Dallas, an American actor who is a relative newcomer, appears in George Lucas' upcoming Tuskagee Airmen drama "Red Tails."
"Thor" stars Chris Hemsworth in the title role, a warrior cast down to Earth to live among mortals as punishment for his reckless actions, which rekindled an ancient war in the realm of Asgard. Thor's troubles continue after dark forces of Asgard are dispatched to invade Earth.
The movie co-stars Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Renee Russo and Tom Hiddleston. Kenneth Branagh is directing.
"Thor" had been scheduled for release May 20, 2011, but Marvel has just moved it up to May 6, 2011.