13-year-old British actress finds her 'Compass'

At 13, the British schoolgirl beat out more than 10,000 other hopefuls at the open U.K. casting call last year to win the plum role of Lyra Belacqua, the young heroine of “The Golden Compass.”

It probably helped that Richards was already a big fan of the fantasy project, which is based on the best-selling “His Dark Materials” trilogy by Philip Pullman, having read the books and seen the London stage play. But Dakota Blue Richards, who next appears in “The Moon Princess,” had one hiccup before “Compass” even began shooting.

When director Chris Weitz called with the news of her casting, Richards’ mother hung up on him by mistake while trying to put him on speaker phone. Luckily, the director perservered.

Now, the $150 million New Line film, co-starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, looks likely to do for Richards what New Line’s “Lord of the Rings” did for all concerned.

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