You might recognize Daniel Craig as the other man in breathless tabloid accounts of the Jude Law-Sienna Miller relationship meltdown. Pretty soon, though, you might know him for his big-screen martini preference--as in: shaken, not stirred.

The British thespian, a relative unknown Stateside, has been offered the part of the lady-killing super spy, replacing current 007 Pierce Brosnan when the 21st Bond adventure, Casino Royale, starts production early next year according to Britain's Daily Mail.

Craig could be officially introduced as the new Bond, James Bond on Friday at a press conferece scheduled by franchise masterminds Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson.

As of now, however, Broccoli and Wilson's Eon Productions, has declined to comment on the casting, as has Craig's London-based agent. Sony-owned MGM, which distributes the 007 pictures, said no decision has been made yet.

Craig's name has been mentioned before, but he was one of several actors said to be in the running. The short list was said to have included his purported nemesis Law and the early favorite, Clive Owen, as well as Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman, Eric Bana and Croatian ER hunk Goran Visnijc.

Just three weeks ago, Craig downplayed any shot at the role. In Washington, D.C., filming the Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake The Visiting with Nicole Kidman, he told AP Radio that he'd be "very happy" once the new Bond was announced so people wouldn't stop pestering him about it. However, he wouldn't say if he'd gotten the part.

Per the latest spate of reports, Craig recently met with Broccoli about donning the tuxedo and was also spotted in London bookstores asking about a first edition of author Ian Fleming's first Bond caper, 1953's Casino Royale, upon which the next 007 movie is based.

Some accounts have suggested that Broccoli, the daughter of original Bond producer, Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, wanted Craig for the role over Casino Royale director Martin Campbell's first choice, 22-year-old Henry Cavill, whose biggest film is 2002's The Count of Monte Cristo.

Craig, 37, is perhaps best known to American audiences for his lead role in the high-octane 2004 crime thriller Layer Cake. He also appeared as Angelina Jolie's rival in 2001's Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Tom Hanks' tormentor in 2002's Road to Perdition and a mental patient opposite Adrien Brody and Keira Knightley in this year's The Jacket. Bond or not, Craig will become a much more familiar face to moviegoers later this year as he and Bana are set to star in Steven Spielberg's terrorism drama, Munich, due out in December.

Meanwhile, the script for the new Bond film is being tweaked by writer-director Paul Haggis. At last month's Toronto Film Festival, he said Casino Royale will take Bond back to basics, eschewing spectacular special effects for a more character-driven, plot-oriented spy thriller, in the vein of the early Sean Connery films.

"We're trying to reinvent Bond. He's 28," Haggis told reporters. "It's very difficult to think of new ways of blowing things up. It's the journey that's the thing--finding a new journey for the character."

If Craig earns the license to kill, he'll be the sixth actor to essay the role, following in the footsteps of Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Brosnan.

Because of the search for a leading man has dragged on, the film was pushed back from its original release date of Nov. 18 to late next year. Filming is slated to begin in the Bahamas in January.

Meanwhile, Daily Variety reports that Sony rival Warner Bros. is going forward with a biopic on Fleming. The film will focus on the author's experiences womanizing and hatching spy schemes against the Soviet Union as a member of England's Foreign Office--a job that informed his Bond novels.

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