Bond is Back! Daniel Craig to Return as 007

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Daniel Craig will be James Bond once again

FRANK LEONHARDT/epa/Corbis

There were more twists and turns than you would find in some of James Bond’s previous movies, but finally, the long-running saga surrounding the future of the famous film franchise has come to an end. And James Bond will return.

A new Bond movie has been confirmed and is due for release on November 9, 2012, according to MGM and EON Productions. And this will neatly coincide with the 50-year anniversary of Dr. No, which most Bond fans would arguably consider the first film (David Niven’s Casino Royale was more a spoof than typical Bond flick).

(See a TIME special on James Bond.)

The franchise had been on hold for some time due to financial troubles, as MGM filed for bankruptcy protection last November. And production on the unnamed 23rd installment had already been suspended in April 2010 because of uncertainty over the company’s future. But a rescue deal and restructuring plan placed Spyglass Entertainment at the helm of MGM, and now legendary Bond producers, Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, as well as MGM and EON, have confirmed the good news that will have brightened many people’s week.

So what do we know about the new movie? Crucially, Daniel Craig returns as Bond, and the days of internet disapproval surrounding Craig (to put it kindly) seems to have dissipated with the Brit smoothly inhabiting the role created by Ian Fleming. Indeed, there’s a case to be made that he’s either on a par with Sean Connery or perhaps even the best actor to take on the role (plus his two movies to date, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, took a ton of money at the box office.) The director is also a Brit, in the form of Sam Mendes, who was long rumored to be helming and expect Dame Judi Dench to return as Bond’s boss, M, as she told MTV News as long ago as 2009 that, “I think I’m going to be needed in spring of 2011. That’s a message I got.”

(See pictures of James Bond.)

But other details will need filling in: Michael Sheen has been linked to the villain’s role, which could well be as the infamous Blofeld. But NewsFeed would like to bring to your attention a certain British actor called Simon Russell Beale. Barbara Broccoli has seen him twice in his current West End play Deathtrap and Beale is playing King Lear — now there’s a warm up role for Bond if ever there was one — for Sam Mendes in a National Theatre production in 2012. And Beale has already told Mendes that, “every actor wants to be in Bond [and] I’d love to be a baddie.”

The script was meant to (literally) have Peter Morgan’s (Frost/Nixon, The Queen) name all over it, but EW is reporting that he’s supposedly been replaced by John Logan, the ex-playwright who penned screenplays for The Last Samurai and The Aviator.

As for the Bond girl, tabloid speculation will surely link Rachel Weisz to Bond 23, if for no other reason than the British newspapers recently splashed headlines that she and Mendes were romantically involved. But rumors, those of both a scurrilous and movie-related nature, are for another day, because Bond is back and the world just got that little bit better. (via BBC)

(See pictures of the Bond girls.)

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