Now that Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton are all on board to play the crusading American heroes for the next Mission: Impossible film, it's time to start casting a bunch of foreigners as potential villains. Yes, I know it's not as simple as that-- American-as-they-come Philip Seymour Hoffman was a franchise-best villain in M:I 3-- but two bits of casting news/rumors seem to suggest that craggy white men with European accents are up to no good this time around.

First up, The Wrap is reporting that Vladimir Mashkov has signed a deal to play a Russian agent in the film; they're not saying whether or not he'll be a villain, and given that genuine talent Brad Bird is behind it they might switch things up on us, but I'm leaning villain for now. And over in Australia, What's Playing reports that Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Michael Nyqvist is in talks to play the big villain, described as "this very charming, but calculating bad guy. Not your typical spy-film villain."

What's Playing also hears that they're looking for a "big name star" to play Ethan Hunt's boss, in the tradition of Jon Voight, Anthony Hopkins and Laurence Fishburne in the previous films. That seems like more of a guarantee than the Nyqvist rumor, which even if it's true only means he's "in talks," which could fall apart at any point. Still, it's nice to see Nyqvsit possibly following on the heels of his Dragon Tattoo co-star Noomi Rapace, who has been seeking Hollywood roles all over the place since the film came out Stateside earlier this year (she was apparently even offered the Mission: Impossible 4 female lead and turned it down). With Cruise and Bird already scouting locations in Europe, production looks set for a December start, so expect casting confirmation sooner rather than later.

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