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We still don't know which character will be the central villain of the new Spider-Man movie will be, but now we know who will play him. Sony announced today that they've cast Rhys Ifans, the British actor known for his breakout role in Notting Hill as the slacker roommate, as well as for performances in Pirate Radio and this year's Greenberg.
According to the press release it was actually Ifans' performance in the upcoming Sony film Anonymous, directed by Roland Emmerich of all people, that got him the job:
“We have been very fortunate to attract some of the best actors working today to play the villains in the Spider-Man movies, and it is exciting to see that trend continue with Rhys Ifans. After seeing his performance in our upcoming film Anonymous, we’re in awe of his talent and think he’s the perfect choice to take on this role.”
And while they're not going to tell us who the villain will be, director Marc Webb had some vague things to say about how the villain's relationship to Spider-Man himself is the key to the character:
“What sets the Spider-Man villains apart is the complexity of their relationships with Peter Parker. Rhys' incredible ability to embody both warmth and rage makes him the ideal choice for this character."
There's been rampant speculation for months now about which character from the Spider-Man rogue's gallery might be the central focus here; one of the last, craziest rumors had Phillip Seymour Hoffman possibly playing Venom, the black-suited baddie embodied by Topher Grace in Spider-Man 3. Ifans is certainly a versatile enough actor to tackle pretty much any character, though it is worth wondering if they cast him for the British accent, or maybe the comedic chops? We still don't real know what kind of tone Marc Webb might be establishing with the film, and it wouldn't surprise me if they wanted to let the villain be a little funny-- it's why we all loved Alfred Molina as Doc Oc, don't you think?
I'd expect Ifans' role to be confirmed sooner or later, but feel free to speculate in the comments below in the meantime.