With JJ Abrams having recently confirmed that he will be returning to the director’s chair for the sequel to his 2009 blockbuster Star Trek and pre-production on the film now well under way, speculation has turned to who will follow in the footsteps of Eric Bana’s Nero and take the role of the movie’s villain.

The latest suggestion? None other than Benicio Del Toro.

Del Toro’s association is more than just rumour, however; the actor has already met with Abrams to discuss the role, and sources suggest that an announcement regarding him being cast is imminent.

While Del Toro certainly make an interesting choice as the latest adversary to go up against Chris Pine’s James T. Kirk and the other members of the Enterprise crew, exactly what character he might be playing remains a total mystery. Star Trek fans have been debating long and hard since the release of the last movie as to whether the sequel should utilize a newly created character (some rumours have suggested the Klingons may play a major part in the new film) or a ‘new timeline’ take on a previously established villain – most notably Khan Noonien Singh, who was memorably played by Ricardo Montalban in both the original series episode ‘Space Seed’ and the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Abrams is notoriously secretive when it comes to divulging details of his projects before they’re released, so while shooting begins on Star Trek XII (or II, depending on your point of view) early in 2012, it may be some time before we find out exactly who or what the crew of the Starship Enterprise will be firing their phasers at this time around.

(Via Variety)