With the 23rd entry in the James Bond franchise gearing up to begin production this fall, the next few months will feature their fair share of rumored (and confirmed) casting bits for pivotal Bond roles – especially when it concerns the customary parts of the diabolical villain and Bond’s seductive female sidekick.

Recently, a rumor began circling around that actress Naomie Harris had been approached to star in the tentatively-titled James Bond 23 as the new attractive assistant to Daniel Craig’s version of the slick spy. Or, rather, that’s what a British tabloid was claiming.

However, both EW and Indiewire have since confirmed (via their own sources) what the tabloid News of the World originally reported: That Harris is being considered for a role in next year’s installment, possibly that of Bond’s “sexy sidekick”. It ought to be noted, though, that Harris has not yet confirmed whether she has (or plans to) accept said  part – or if she’s actually up for another role entirely. At this point, it’s even possible she’s up for the onetime rumored female villain part in the film.

Harris has proven herself capable of playing a deadly warrior woman onscreen (see: 28 Days Later and Ninja Assassin) and is more than easy enough on the eyes to work as a lovely kick-ass Bond girl. Most U.S. moviegoers are likely familiar with Harris for her turn as Tia Dalma/Calypso in the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies – and even with all the makeup she donned for that role, Harris still made that (literal) goddess in human form a sly and seductive character. So if she does end up signing on as the new Bond gal, she could definitely make for a memorable one.

Harris as Tia Dalma

Names like Javier BardemRalph FiennesAnthony Hopkins, and Kevin Spacey have all been raised as possibilities (or were onetime candidates) to match wits with Craig in the next James Bond venture. As Screen Rant‘s Ben Moore has pointed out, all four of these critically-favored gentlemen have a background in playing genuinely creepy and unsettling serial killers onscreen – so it would seem that the main antagonist in James Bond 23 (the head of Quantum, perhaps?) will indeed be a nasty one.

Other than those villain casting rumors, there’s been little to no information released that would indicate what exactly Casino Royale/Quantum of Solace scripting duo Neal Purvis and Robert Wade – in collaboration with John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator) – are planning to deliver with James Bond 23. The most obvious route would be to conclude the overreaching Quantum story arc from the last two Bond films, if only for the sake of closure. Also, many a fan is likely hoping to see a take on the Bond character that’s more similar to Craig’s “modernized” version of the spy presented in Casino Royale – less so to the revenge-fueled killer that he (admittedly, kind of inexplicably) devolved into over the course of Quantum of Solace.

Bond 23 is being directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition), who is best known for making arthouse fare – though he has proven to be capable of handling more action-oriented material as well (see: Jarhead). That alone puts him in a position to deliver a better Bond adventure than Quantum of Solace head honcho Marc Forster, whose lack of experience in the area of filming coherent action sequences really showed in the last Bond movie.

Expect to hear more James Bond 23 news in the near future as we approach the start of production on the film, which is slated for theatrical release in the U.S. on November 9th, 2012.

Source: News of the World, EW, Indiewire