In spite of being the third film in Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond, Skyfall has already received an unusually large amount of fanfare and media attention (especially considering it’s a year away from release).

Perhaps that’s due to the fact that it’s the 50th anniversary of the very first Ion Bond, Dr. No?

Now, days after the official announcement, we have additional casting announcements, the very first set image, and hints from co-star Ralph Fiennes that he’ll be playing either “Blofeld” or someone Blofeld-esque.

First, check out the first official image from the set of Skyfall (via Skyfall’s official twitter account):

It’s incredibly reminiscent of the filthy bathroom from the black-and-white beginning of Casino Royale, wherein James Bond killed his first target (one of two kills on his way to gaining double-o status).

Check that out below:

Also from the official Twitter account come two casting announcements – Helen McCrory and Ola Rapace have joined the Skyfall cast. McCrory previously portrayed Draco Malfoy’s mom in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, while Rapace is a Swedish actor that was previously married to Noomi Rapace (Sherlock Holmes 2, Prometheus).

Meanwhile, Ralph Fiennes – who has shaved his head for Skyfall – talked to Indie Wire about his upcoming role in Bond 23.

On how he got into the film, Fiennes said:

“Because [screenwriter John Logan] wrote this really interesting part which is really quite fun.”

Keep in mind, Logan was recently quoted as saying “Bond should always fight Blofeld.” When directly asked if he would be playing Blofeld, as rumors have suggested, Fiennes smiled and said:

“I can’t say anything more.”

When pressed further on the issue, he said:

“I can’t say anything, [but] I will not be stroking a white pussy!”

Sounds like a non-denial denial, if you ask us. After all, it pretty much goes without saying that if Blofeld were to appear in a Daniel Craig James Bond film, he would do so sans kitty-cat.

It wouldn’t be far-fetched to envision Javier Bardem as the more brawny James Bond villain (not unlike Robert Shaw’s Donald Blake) and Ralph Fiennes as the mastermind or a sort of background villain – a la Blofeld.

Of course, the question then becomes: If Fiennes is indeed playing the mastermind — the head of, say, some evil organization – is that organization Quantum? After all, in conjunction with Skyfall’s official announcement, it was indicated that the plot of the film would not be connected to ether Quantum of Solace or Casino Royale.

Indeed, a James Bond movie about M’s past coming back to haunt her doesn’t seem to leave a lot of room for Quantum, Blofeld, and the like, but anything is possible – especially considering this may very well be Craig’s final Bond film.

Frankly, the filmmakers have no reason to prematurely announce Blofeld’s appearance – if such a thing is going to occur – especially when they want it to be a surprise. Perhaps saying Skyfall has little connection to the previous Craig films is just misdirection?

What do you think, Screen Ranters? Will Fiennes be portraying Ernst Stavro Blofeld? Do you want him to? Drop us a line in the comments.

Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

Skyfall, helmed by Sam Mendes — the first Oscar-winner to direct a Bond film — hits theaters November 9th, 2012.

Source: Official Skyfall Twitter Account, Indie Wire [via Comic Book Movie]