French actor Mathieu Amalric has been cast as the villain in the 22nd James Bond movie, it has been reported.

According to Variety, a Columbia Pictures executive confirmed Amalric will face off against Daniel Craig in the upcoming film, which begins shooting at Pinewood studios today.

Amalric plays a paralyzed stroke victim in Julian Schnabel's stunning The Diving Bell and the Butterfly but will be involved in high-octane action in Marc Forster's upcoming movie, scheduled for a November release.

Amalric had seemingly confirmed rumours regarding his casting while talking to Empire in December 2007, stating: "I play the villain, yes. James Bond. It has to do with childhood, you know?

"To be a villain in James Bond is just so funny. I never dreamt about that. It's not what I want to do with my career.

"It's just that I have kids and it's so funny to do that."

It is rumoured that the French actor could star as the Algerian boyfriend mentioned by Eva Green's Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale.

Other cast members have also been confirmed for the thriller, with Daniel Craig reprising his role as England's deadliest secret weapon while Jeffrey Wright is to return as CIA agent Felix Leiter.

And Giancarlo Giannini, who played corrupt policeman Mathis in Casino Royale, is also to return, it has been confirmed.

It is believed that action in the next Bond film - rumoured to be entitled 007 - kicks off just minutes after the ending of Casino Royale.

03/01/2008 15:56:40