Paula Patton has been cast as the female lead in the next Mission: Impossible movie.

The Precious actress — who welcomed her first son with crooner hubby Robin Thicke last spring — held off competition from Lauren German and Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk to win the part in the Brad Bird production, reports. Paula will play a young operative working alongside Tom Cruise’s secret agent Ethan Hunt. Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg have also been to tapped to join the fourth edition of the spy series.

In addition, Patton has signed on to play Assistant District Attorney Mikki Von on the 12th season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, premiering Sept. 23.

Mission: Impossible IV opens in theaters in Dec. 2011.

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