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 Monday, 6 January, 2003, 16:30 GMT
Dickens role for Billy Elliot star
Jamie Bell (l) as Smike and Charlie Hunnam as Nicholas in MGM's Nicholas Nickleby
Bell, left as Smike, says he wants to move on as an actor

Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell is back in the spotlight in US cinemas in a film adaptation of Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby.

Bell, now 16, plays the orphan Smike in the movie, which has been shortlisted for a Golden Globe award.

It comes more than two years after the teenage actor became an international sensation with his screen debut as the ballet dancing youngster.

Bell, who still lives in Teesside with his mother, won a Bafta award for best actor in the 2000 film directed by Stephen Daldry.

Jamie Bell in Deathwatch
In his last film Bell played a teenage soldier
In his latest role as Smike, he is tortured in a boarding school for orphans until he is saved by the idealistic Nicholas Nickleby.

Nickleby gives him love and a fleeting sense of family.

The movie is in with a chance of a Golden Globe in the category of best musical or comedy.

Bell says taking the part made good career sense in helping his transition from child to adult actor.

He said: "For me it was a change because the last time people have seen me was in Billy Elliot - the dancing kid, the happy bouncy ballerina guy.

Jamie Bell at the BAFTAs 2001
He is proving to be a versatile actor
"I need to lose that image pretty quickly and move on and progress as a person and as an actor.

"I think this role shows that I have talent other than dancing."

Bell said he still relied for guidance on director Daldry, who cast him in Billy Elliot and encouraged him to do the Nickleby role.

"Stephen Daldry is a big influence in my life and career choices and all that kind of thing," he said.

Role

"My mum is still very much a big influence. I like to call them my lifelines, people I can rely on, who are always going to be there."

Bell's last role was as 16-year-old soldier Charlie Shakespeare in the First World War drama Deathwatch.

He revealed that his own acting hero was Leonardo DiCaprio, currently starring in Gangs Of New York.

"As well as being a pin-up, he's also a brilliant actor and that's something I want to achieve," said Bell.

See also:

13 Feb 01 | Entertainment
06 Feb 01 | Entertainment
04 Feb 01 | Entertainment
09 Dec 02 | Reviews
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