[UPDATE: This rumor is utterly and completely baseless. Confirmed by AICN.]
A little over a month ago we reported that noises were being made stating that Johnny Depp and Philip Seymour Hoffman would be joining The Dark Knight sequel (referred to now as Batman 3). Supposedly they would be playing the Riddler and the Penguin, respectively.
We took this with a very large grain of salt, but now there is more news indicating that the casting of these two actors may be moving forward.
According to MTV (again, following the Will Smith/Captain America rumor) Michael Caine (who played Bruce Wayne's long time friend/butler Alfred in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) mentioned that Depp and Hoffman are firmly in the sights of Warner Bros for the (anti-)dynamic duo of The Riddler and The Penguin.
From the interview with MTV:
"I was with [a Warner Bros.] executive and I said, ‘Are we going to make another one?' They said yeah. I said, ‘How the hell are we going to top Heath? And he says ‘I'll tell you how you top Heath - Johnny Depp as The Riddler and Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Penguin.' I said, ‘S-t, they've done it again!'" [Laughs]
So is this just a wish list by WB execs or something more solid? So far there isn't even a script or even a story for Batman 3 as far as we know, and Chis Nolan has been quoted as saying he did not want major, well known villains in the next film.
But of course money (box office) talks, and Warner Bros may override him. Of course it's not like they're trying to force lousy actors on Nolan.. both of these fellow are fantastic actors, and that could help seal the deal since Nolan wants to put out a quality film.
For more details head over to MTV.com.