Daniel Craig was introduced Friday as the first blond James Bond and only the second Englishman to star as 007 in the film series. Craig's selection was revealed as he was whisked down the River Thames aboard a military Rigid Raider boat to a news conference.
Craig replaces Pierce Brosnan in the title role of the forthcoming film, "Casino Royale," due in theaters next year.
"It is a huge iconic figure in movie history, and those things don't come along very often," the star said, after posing for photos with producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and Director Martin Campbell.
Craig revealed he only discovered on Monday that he had definitely been given the role and had to consider the offer.
"It was difficult, but I tried to think about it like any other job. We have got an incredible script, and that is my first line of attack. Once I had read it, I knew I did not have any choice," he told a news conference. "It is a huge challenge, and I think life is about challenges."
Producers announced last year that they were seeking a replacement for Brosnan, who has played the suave British spy in the last four Bond films, according to the AP.
Craig, 37, is the first blond actor to play 007. Relatively unknown outside Britain, he has had a busy career that includes roles in the landmark 1990s British TV drama "Our Friends in the North" and films including "The Mother," "Enduring Love" and "Layer Cake."
He played Paul Newman's sinister son in "Road to Perdition," was poet Ted Hughes opposite Gwyneth Paltrow's Sylvia Plath in "Sylvia" and appeared in this year's thriller "The Jacket" with Adrien Brody.
"Daniel is a superb actor who has all the qualities needed to bring a contemporary edge to the role," Broccoli and Wilson said in a statement distributed to reporters.
Craig is also the tabloids' dream Bond. He once dated headline-grabbing model Kate Moss and has been linked to Sienna Miller, his "Layer Cake" co-star and on-off fiancee of Jude Law.
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