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Last Updated: Tuesday April 04 2006 16:52 GMT

Dark Materials star search begins

Philip Pullman
Hundreds of girls have turned up to audition for the lead role in the first of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials films which started on Tuesday.

The search for the girl who'll play Lyra Belacqua began at the Cambridge Corn Exchange at 10am.

The queue was at least 1,200 strong at the start of auditions, growing longer as the day went on.

More casting calls will be held in Kendal, Oxford and Exeter during the first two weeks of April.

Girls, aged 9-13, don't have to have any previous acting experience, but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

'Weird'

Filmmakers New Line Cinema have said they are looking for a "talented young actress who embodies Lyra's loyalty, bravery and mischievous nature."

Mireille, 11, from Grantham told Newsround why she had travelled to the audition: "I really really like acting. Some people have said Lyra's like me, I'm a bit weird."

And ten-year-old Michelle said the big queue was worth waiting for: "It's cold but we're nearly at the front."

His Dark Materials tells the magical story of Lyra, a young girl who goes on a long journey to save her best friend.

The first book in the trilogy is called Northern Lights, but it's known as The Golden Compass in the US.

They've also said girls should come without costumes or makeup.

Future auditions will be held at:

  • Kendal Castle Green Hotel - (Castle Green Hotel, Cattle Green Lane, Kendal in Cumbria) 6 April
  • Oxford Examination Schools - (The Examination School, The High St, Oxford) 11 April
  • University of Exeter's Great Hall (The Great Hall, Streatham Campus, University of Exeter) - 13 April


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