Craig announced as sixth Bond

New 007 arrives by speedboat

Longtime frontrunner Daniel Craig was finally unveiled by MGM/Columbia as the new James Bond Oct. 14 at a action-packed London news conference where returning director Martin Campbell (“GoldenEye”) promised a “tougher and grittier” 21st Bond film with “more character and less gadgets.”

In classic Bond style, Craig first came into view as he sped under Tower Bridge aboard a Royal Navy speedboat destined for the HMS President Navy training center on London’s Thames where the world press were gathered.

Although some hacks complained it wasn’t very Bond-like to wear a life-jacket over his Brioni suit, he hit dry land a little shaken but not stirred, joking “I’d like to thank the marines for scaring the shit out of me.”

The allure of the part was irresistible to life-long Bond fan Craig, who commented, “Bond is a huge iconic figure in movie history. These things don’t come along very often.” Referring to the pressures of taking on such a role, the thesp was bullish, “I’ve just got to step up to the plate and deal with it,” adding that the part is both a “responsibility and huge adventure.”

Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson were quick to assert that no other actor had been offered the role. Craig was only officially notified he had landed the part on Monday Oct. 10, while he was en route for Baltimore. Craig revealed he had celebrated “with a few Martinis.”

“Casino Royale” examines Bond’s formative years with Campbell set to chart the character’s “tough arc” and establish to auds how 007 developed his penchant for Aston Martins, Martinis and beautiful women.

Other script details include news that there will be no Moneypenny or Q characters in this film.

Pic will shoot at London’s Pinewood studios and in Prague, Italy and the Bahamas with Wilson noting that “Royale,” unlike previous Bond productions, is a location not studio-based film.

Despite more focus on characters, Wilson suggested the budget will be easily north $100 million.

With Craig now signed on, speculation in the unrelenting Brit press has now turned to the identity of the Bond girl, which Campbell promises to be “the best Bond girl part ever.” In suitably diplomatic fashion, Craig deflected embarrassing questions from British tabloids hacks about his personal life — he is rumored to have recently had a romantic dalliance with his friend Jude Law’s on-off gf Sienna Miller.

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