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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 17:48 GMT
Bond villain defends actor Craig
By Simon Holden
in London

Toby Stephens
Stephens is the son of Sir Robert Stephens and Dame Maggie Smith
Former Bond villain Toby Stephens has defended the latest 007 star Daniel Craig in the wake of criticism from some fans over his casting.

On Wednesday, website Craignotbond.com asked fans to boycott the new film Casino Royale, saying Craig's casting was "ruining the future" of James Bond.

Stephens, who played Gustav Graves in 2002's Die Another Day, said Bond was becoming "too cliched and unrealistic".

He said the casting of Craig in the lead role was "inspired".

"The last Bond film took it to an extreme in one direction and it became fantastical," he said.

Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig took the role in October last year

"It was all those things people want from Bond but it was stretched to its absolute limit."

Stephens, who is starring in upcoming ITV1 drama The Best Man, said the decision to choose Craig as the latest bond took the character "back to its roots".

"Craig is a serious actor and doesn't look like a traditional James Bond," he said.

"He is a very dark actor and a very interesting one and I think he will be brilliant. It will reinvigorate the whole thing.

"It is not going to be to everyone's taste but that is the thing when you take over a role, you are not going to please everyone."

British actor Craig, 37, was announced as the sixth James Bond in October last year.

Pierce Brosnan
Brosnan has defended his successor

Best-known for his roles in gangster thriller Layer Cake and the recent Spielberg drama Munich, he has been the subject of media criticism since he made his debut as the secret agent at a lacklustre press conference.

Earlier this week former Bond star Pierce Brosnan defended his successor. "I think Daniel is a very fine actor," he said.

And veteran actor Christopher Lee has also called on critics to give the new Bond star a chance.

"People should not pass judgment until they have seen the film," said Lee, a former Bond villain and a distant cousin of 007 creator Ian Fleming.


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