12 Years A Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor has reportedly become a frontrunner to play the Bond villain in the next 007 blockbuster.
Sources tell trade paper Variety that Mgm and Sony executives are considering casting the actor as Javier Bardem's successor in the as-yet untitled next Bond movie.
The film is scheduled to go into production later this year (14) and has a 6 November, 2015 release date.
Meanwhile, heavyweight studio executives at Universal and Mgm are about to go to war over a new movie that features a spy character similar to Bond.
Mgm film bosses have filed suit against the rival company bigwigs in a bid to shut down production of Section 6 after months of legal threats.
Joe Cornish is on board to direct the new spy film, with 300: Rise Of An Empire's Jack O'Connell attached to star, but the young actor might not get the chance to play an Mi6 agent.
The Mgm suit, obtained by Variety, reads in part: "This lawsuit concerns a motion picture project, in active development, featuring a daring, tuxedo-clad British secret agent, employed by 'His Majesty's Secret Service,' with a 'license to kill,' and a 00 (double-O) secret agent number on a mission to save England from the diabolical plot of a megalomanical villain.
"Most moviegoers would assume from that description alone that this lawsuit concerns the next James Bond picture. It does not. This lawsuit is instead about a James Bond knock-off that defendant Universal is readying for production."