12 Years a Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor is reportedly the top choice to play the villain in Sony and MGM's Bond 24, according to a new report from Variety.

The studios haven't offered the role to Chiwetel Ejiofor yet, and scheduling issues will still need to be worked out if he signs on, but insiders claim that the Oscar-nominated actor is the front runner.

No details were given regarding the villain, although we reported in November that MGM won back the rights to the Blofeld character and his villainous organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E., which lead to speculation that he will be a part of this sequel. Screenwriter John Logan also teased last month that S.P.E.C.T.R.E. might come into play. Will Chiwetel Ejiofor be Ernst Stavro Blofeld? That's a possibility.

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We reported in March that production is scheduled to begin in October, but this new report reveals that shooting will actually begin this summer. Casting is already under way, with producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson searching for a Scandanavian woman and a British woman to play the new Bond girls.

Skyfall stars Daniel Craig (James Bond), Ralph Fiennes (M), Naomie Harris (Moneypenny) and Ben Whishaw (Q) reprising their roles, under the direction of Sam Mendes.

Chiwetel Ejiofor will next be seen in Z for Zachariah and Triple Nine. The actor is no stranger to playing the bad guy, with villainous roles in 2005's Four Brothers and 2006's Children of Men.