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Battle to be new Bond.

Byline: BRENDON WILLIAMS

ACTION man Christian Bale is going head-to-head with Ioan Gruffudd in the race to be the next James Bond.

The Welsh heartthrobs are in the running to take over from Pierce Brosnan as the world's most famous secret agent.

Hornblower star Gruffudd, from Cardiff, was favourite for 007 after his Celtic good looks won over audiences in America.

But Bale, 28, is also strongly fancied after scooping a role in new sci-fi blockbuster Reign of Fire.

He is also thought to be in line to play another legendary screen hero, Batman.

If he lands both parts, the American Psycho star could become one of Britain's most successful actors.

The Pembrokeshire-born actor, who has starred in Brit films Velvet Goldmine and A Midsummer Night's Dream, said: "Both characters would be a dream come true.

"James Bond is every British actor's Holy Grail - in many ways the most recognised character on the big screen.

"I've also been a big fan of Tim Burton's Batman movies. His almost gothic approach brought a wonderful cinematic feel to an American hero.

"Batman is a wonderful character - the dark knight really could be a fascinating character study.

"I'd love to do either part but I'd also worry about being typecast.

"James Bond in the new Millennium has so much potential."

Ioan Gruffudd recently enjoyed success with the Valleys-based Very Annie Mary and in 102 Dalmatians where he met new love Alice Evans on set.

CAPTION(S):

THE NAME'S BOND: Pierce Brosnan, centre, is 007. But Ioan Gruffudd, left, and Christian Bale are gunning for the role
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 15, 2002
Words:263
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