Is Ralph Fiennes a lock for Bond 23 villain?

Two publications, the U.K. Daily Mail newspaper and U.S. trade publication Variety, have stories that, in passing, say actor Ralph Fiennes will be in Bond 23 and the film will begin production in December.

The stories center on Fiennes’s participation in a stage production of Sheakespeare’s The Tempest, where he will play Prospero. To view the Daily Mail story, YOU CAN CLICK HERE. To read the Variety story, CLICK HERE.

The Daily Mail has this mention:

Almost as soon as he comes out of The Tempest, Fiennes will begin preparations for the new James Bond film, which begins shooting in December. This column was first to reveal that Fiennes had met with his old friend Sam Mendes, who is directing the latest 007 thriller (which has the working title Sam Mendes Bond 23), about starring with Daniel Craig in the picture.

Variety, meanwhile, has this passage (“the run” refers to Fienennes time on The Temptest):

Fiennes’s movie commitments mean the run will be strictly limited. He is skedded to start filming on the Sam Mendes helmed “Bond 23” In December. The latter is scripted by John Logan who also scripted Fiennes’s recent movie helming debut “Coriolanus.”

Again, both stories toss this news off as an aside. There have been almost no official casting announcements, other than Daniel Craig would return as Bond for his third 007 outing. Judi Dench said in interviews she’d return as M. And that’s been about it. If the Fiennes news is true, he’d almost have to be the villain because the biggest non-Bond male parts in 007 films are villains. We’ll see.