By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist October 14, 2011 at 4:51AM
Even as the filmmakers behind "James Bond 23" continue to keep their cards close to the chest before officially making any official statements, casting rumors continue to swirl.
The latest comes from Chinese outlet Sina (via Twitch) who reveals that Tang Wei, Fan Bingbing, Li Bingbing, Shu Qi and Josie Ho are all contending for role in the upcoming franchise entry in what will be a potential villain role (if the garbled Google Translate is deciphered correctly). Apparently producers on the film have been interviewing hundreds of candidates for the part, but these names are the ones that rising to the top, with Wei considered the favorite for two reasons: one, she has a good grasp on the English language and two, her management company is also throwing some dollars behind the movie.
Wei is probably best known to arthouse audiences stateside for her turn in Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution" that got her blacklisted by the Chinese government, which may explain her limited filmography to date. Fan Bingbing is bit more unknown, though genre fans may recognize her from "Bodyguards and Assassins." Li Bingbing on the other hand appeared in the Jackie Chan flick "The Forbidden Kingdom," Tsui Hark's "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" and the latest Wayne Wang film "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan." You probably remember Shu Qi from "The Transporter" or possibly "New York, I Love You" and Josie Ho recently popped up in "Contagion" and featured in Johnnie To's "Exiled."
With international dollars now more important than ever, you can bet Sam Mendes and co. will be choosing very carefully who will essentially represent the film to Asian markets. Whoever lands the role will be the first Asian Bond girl since Michelle Yeoh in "Tomorrow Never Dies." Anyway, whoever gets the gig will play along with Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Judi Dench, Naomi Harris, Ben Whishaw and Helen McCrory, which isn't too bad at all. "James Bond 23" hits theaters in Europe on October 26, 2012 with a U.S. release following on November 9th.