Kelly Overton
Kelly Overton as been cast as Vanessa, the lead character in Syfy's upcoming vampire series Van Helsing CBS

Syfy channel is preparing to launch a new Van Helsing TV series that we can only hope will be nothing like Hugh Jackman's feature film outing, and so far it's keeping its distance, despite having the same name. Its major difference has been swapping the gender of its title character, with the network announcing the female lead: True Blood and Legends actress Kelly Overton.

The 37-year-old has geared up - quite literally - to play Vanessa, a descendent of the Van Helsing lineage of warriors who now must lead mankind against a world controlled by vampires in the post-Rising landscape. Speaking of the casting, showrunner Neil LaBute said: "We've been extremely blessed to get such a wonderfully talented and diverse cast."

Shortly after Deadline broke the news, Overton took to her personal Twitter account to share the first official poster for the 13-episode sci-fi series, which has been produced by Nomadic Pictures, the team behind dramas Hell On Wheels and Fargo. The image sees her walking toward a scene of devastation while brandishing weapons, alongside the caption: "Resurrection is a bitch."

Overton will be joined on the small screen by Hell On Wheels' Jonathan Scarfe and Christopher Heyerdahl as well as Mad Men's Paul Johansson, Ray Donovan's David Cubitt and Homeland's Tim Guinee. Scarfe is set to play Axel, described as a "career Marine with unwavering devotion and loyalty to both duty and his wards, despite years of isolation and endless vampire attacks". Having already played a vampire in The Twilight Saga movies, Heyerdahl will play a human survivor of the vampire Rising along with Cubitt.

Johansson and Guinee will make up the bloodsucking side of things, with Johansson playing Dimitri, a "patient and calculating" vampire leader who was turned before the Rising, while Guinee will portray Ted, a foot soldier with a tragic back story and a penchant for the red stuff.

The show is set to begin production in Vancouver in late February ahead of its autumn premiere. Michael Nankin (Hell On Wheels), Jason Priestley (Haven), David Frazee (Orphan Black), Simon Barry (Continuum) and Amanda Tapping (The Magicians) are all signed on to direct episodes across the season.

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