While studio MGM sorts out their financial issues, fans of the long-running James Bond franchise will have to wait awhile, since production on the next Bond film is reportedly on hold until the MGM bankruptcy fiasco gets sorted out.

But fear not, Bond fans: even if production on the next Bond movie is currently held up, that isn’t stopping those involved from getting things in order so that the movie is ready to start production as soon as possible. Those preparations include looking for a suitable cast.

Previously we’ve heard rumors that Bond villain Blofeld will be coming back, the rights to the franchise are moving from MGM to Fox and most recently that Sam Mendes is directing Bond 23 (insiders say Mendes has just been brought on as a consultant, although he’s still a candidate for directing).

However, the latest rumor we have is a bit of a doozy: celebrated actress and previously rumored Bond girl, Rachel Weisz, is now being rumored to be the next Bond villain.

The rumor comes from our friends over at Cinema Blend. The doozy part of the rumor is not that Weisz will play one of the few female villains in Bond history, but rather that she may play the villainous mastermind behind the Quantum organization, which has been hinted at in the last two movies. That’s right – the top cheese, the head honcho, the boss of bosses could supposedly be played by Rachel Weisz.

What adds some credence to the story beyond “that’s what’s being discussed” is that Weisz is good friends with current James Bond, Daniel Craig (she’s working with him on the upcoming film Dream House); she’s also expressed interest in doing a Bond film with Craig before, and has had a past relationship with possible Bond 23 director Sam Mendes (okay maybe that last one is stretching it as “proof of truth” just a bit :P ).

Cinema Blend makes a point to say that we should TREAT THIS AS A RUMOR, that is until it can be proven true or untrue (I’m sure it won’t take long). The source is, “a reliable, proven source who’s broken numerous, since confirmed, stories to us over a period of several years.” For instance, the source was the first to break the news that Black Widow would be in Iron Man 2.

But remember, this is just a rumor for the time being. The source says that there’s a lot of discussion going on right now and that, “things can change in a heartbeat… they might even try to deny what I told you but that’s the brainstorming going on now.”

Even if it’s just a rumor at this point, it’s always fun to discuss these sorts of things. What do you think of the idea of Rachel Weisz playing the Bond villain and mastermind behind Quantum? Do you think this will turn out to be true or is yet another rumor that will be proven false?

Due to MGM’s dire financial situation we’re not sure when Bond 23 will go into production (despite Daniel Craig saying it’ll start shooting in late 2010). And subsequently we’re not sure of the release date. But we’ll be sure to keep you in the loop on that front, as always.

Source: Cinema Blend