EXCLUSIVE: While he’s currently on screens everywhere as the face of intergalactic evil in Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, Lee Pace has lined up sci-fi thriller Prisoner Of War as his next leading role. It’s a departure from his snarling Guardians villain Ronan the Accuser: Pace joins Skyfall‘s Bérénice Marlohe in the story of an American soldier and a French foreign aid worker who team up in Africa amid humankind’s last stand against a cataclysmic alien invasion.

Pace replaces Chronicle‘s Alex Russell in Prisoner, his first new project following a recent tear of huge blockbuster franchises. He next hits the big screen this December reprising the role of Elf King Thranduil in Peter Jackson’s series-concluding The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies after appearing in the two previous Hobbit flicks. Before that Pace popped up as a vampire in Summit’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. He also stars in AMC’s 1980s drama Halt and Catch Fire, which wrapped its freshman season Sunday, and has filmed a supporting role in Stephen Frears’ upcoming Lance Armstrong biopic for StudioCanal and Working Title.

Music video and TV vet Joe Miale is directing Prisoner Of War, which is produced by Automatik’s Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, 42’s Rory Aitken and Ben Pugh, and Tea Shop & Film Company’s James Harris. Zev Foreman and Nicolas Chartier also are producing for Voltage. Mark Lane is co-producing for Tea Shop & Film. Filming is set to start in September on location in South Africa. Pace is repped by CAA and Peikoff Mahan.