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Bond speeds back, with a vengeance.

Byline: By Sherna Noah And Anita Singh

Daniel Craig announced his role as the new James Bond in true 007 style yesterday.

The 37-year-old actor arrived at the press launch in a speedboat flanked by Royal Marines.

Craig said he was speechless to have landed the job. "I had a couple of Martinis when I found out."

Craig will play a tougher, grittier and altogether darker Bond than his predecessor, Pierce Brosnan, in the 21st movie of the superspy franchise: Casino Royale.

"It's not a question of redefining Bond, but a question of taking it somewhere it's never been before," he said.

"It's one of the big ones as an actor. Bond is a hugely iconic."

Craig is in the headlines for a reported fling with his Layer Cake co-star Sienna Miller, following her betrayal by Jude Law.

Last year he had a romance with supermodel Kate Moss.

But he said his favourite Bond girl was Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty's Secret Service ( and his favourite Bond is the original, Sean Connery.

Craig arrived for the press conference by speeding under Tower Bridge to the jetty of HMS President.

And he indicated that he may not be doing all his own stunts when he said: "I'd like to thank the Royal Marines for bringing me in like that ( and scaring the wit out of me."

Born in Chester and raised on the Wirral, Craig had a secondary modern education and left school aged 16.

Producers spent two years looking for their new Bond, saw more than 200 actors, and rejected the likes of Colin Farrell, Clive Owen, Hugh Jackman and ER's Goran Visjnic.

Craig found out for certain on Monday that he had the role and his first reaction was: "I need a drink."

He will be the first blond Bond and only the second Englishman to play the role since Roger Moore.

Producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said: "Daniel is a superb actor who has all the qualities needed to bring a contemporary edge to the role.

"Casino Royale will have all the action, suspense and espionage that our audiences have come to expect from us, but nevertheless takes the franchise in a new and exciting direction."

The search is now on for a new Bond girl.

Director Martin Campbell said: "There's a terrific part and the relationship she has with Bond is much more serious than in past films. It's probably the best Bond girl part in the books."

Casino Royale, Fleming's first book, explains Bond's early years.

Director Campbell, returning to the Bond franchise 10 years after directing Brosnan in GoldenEye, said the $100m film would have more character, fewer gadgets.

To secure its 12A rating, the torture scene featured in the book will not be portrayed on screen.

And Bond will also be stubbing out his cigars.

Campbell said: "He's not going to smoke, simply because it's difficult with children or young people who go and see the movie.

"Given he's the iconic hero he is, perhaps it's not the right thing to do."

Casino Royale will be shot from January in Prague, Italy, the Bahamas and England's Pinewood Studios.

It is due for release worldwide on November 17, 2006.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 15, 2005
Previous Article:Hello, I'm Craig, Daniel Craig.
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