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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 November 2007, 09:37 GMT
Stars at Golden Compass premiere
Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman plays the evil Mrs Coulter in the film
Hundreds of film fans greeted Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig at the premiere of fantasy film The Golden Compass in London's Leicester Square.

The movie is based on the first book in Philip Pullman's best-selling His Dark Materials trilogy.

Speaking on the red carpet, Daniel Craig said that as a fan of the novels he was keen to be in the film version.

"When the opportunity came along I grabbed it," he said. "I think Philip Pullman is a genius writer."

Kidman, who attended the premiere with her husband, country music star Keith Urban, said co-starring in the film as the villainous Mrs Coulter was "a great opportunity".

"It's rare that I bring such a dark, dramatic character to the screen," she added.

Special effects

Thirteen-year-old Dakota Blue Richards, who beat 10,000 girls to play heroine Lyra Belacqua, was also at the premiere, and explained how much she picked up from her famous co-stars on set.

"Daniel jumped up and down to get energised before his lines while Nicole told me to not stop if I messed up a line because it might turn out to be brilliant," she said.

Daniel Craig
Bond actor Daniel Craig plays adventurer Lord Asriel

The Golden Compass sees Lyra travel through an alternative universe as she tries to rescue her kidnapped friend.

Asked about the film's fantasy appeal, Craig said: "It's a bit of escapism... and the special effects have come such a long way that it's now possible to go to places that you wouldn't have been able to even five years ago."

And quizzed about what it was like to have Pullam on the film set, Craig, who plays adventurer Lord Asriel in the film, added: "It was great but I preferred to go out with him for a glass of red wine."

Richards said getting the role was a dream come true for her.

"I really, really wanted to play the role. My mum had read the books to me and I had seen the play at the National Theatre. I loved the character so much I wanted to be just like her," she explained.

The movie has already come under attack for toning down Pullman's rejection of organised religion, in particular the Roman Catholic Church.

The Golden Compass
Dakota Blue Richards (left) beat 10,000 girls to the role of Lyra

The UK's National Secular Society has condemned a decision to remove anti-religious references, but the Catholic League in the US has urged parents to ban their children from watching the movie.

At the premiere, Craig said the controversy had been "a bit blown out of proportion".

"That's the joke isn't it? Over here we're diluting it and in the States we're going too far. I think if you see the film there's nothing to worry about," he said.

The His Dark Materials trilogy of books became best-sellers around the world, attracting fans of all ages.

The film, which also stars Eva Green, Sam Elliott, Jack Shepherd and Freddie Highmore, will be released in the UK on 5 December.

Clips from The Golden Compass

Pullman wins 'great book' title
21 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Kate Bush song in Golden Compass
14 Nov 07 |  Entertainment
Compass maker fears 'jaded' fans
22 May 07 |  Entertainment
Craig lands role in Pullman film
18 Aug 06 |  Entertainment
Schoolgirl lands Lyra film role
29 Jun 06 |  Entertainment

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