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Bond 25 looking to nail down Oscar winner Rami Malek as villain

By Don Kaye
Rami Malek

With production getting ready to start this spring, Bond 25 is hoping to cement the final casting pieces together — including a new Oscar winner as 007's nemesis.

Both Variety and Collider report that Eon Productions and director Cary Joji Fukunaga have renewed their quest to sign Rami Malek as the villain for Daniel Craig's fifth outing as James Bond. Malek was in the running early on, but his participation was uncertain over scheduling conflicts with the final season of his series Mr. Robot.

The door never completely closed for Malek, however, and the talks are now back on. Collider actually goes a little further than Variety, saying that Malek is in "final negotiations" for the role. Malek, of course, just won a Best Actor Oscar on Sunday night (Feb. 24) for his work as Queen singer Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, with the statuette probably giving him some additional salary leverage as well.

Along with the main villain — about whom little is known — Bond 25 (which may have a title already) is also looking to cast two women and a man. One of the women will be a new MI6 agent, while the other will be an accomplice of some sort. The man is said to be an American CIA agent, although isn't clear if the character will be Felix Leiter, Bond's long-running CIA liaison who was last played by Jeffrey Wright. Billy Magnussen, recently seen in Velvet Buzzsaw, is said to be Fukunaga’s pick for that part. 

Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, and Naomie Harris are all reprising their roles from the last Bond outing, 2015's Spectre, while the fate of the last film's villain, Christoph Waltz's Blofeld, remains a mystery for now. The new entry is confirmed to be Craig's last appearance as the British agent.

Fukunaga and Scott Z. Burns have both done drafts of the script, with Variety suggesting that Eon and Craig are both happy with the end results. Bond 25 is slated to arrive in theaters on Apr. 8, 2020.