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Last Updated: Thursday June 29 2006 10:42 GMT

Lyra cast in Dark Materials film

An extract from the UK edition book cover of Northern Lights
One lucky girl has been plucked from thousands of hopefuls to play the lead in the His Dark Materials films.

Dakota Blue Richards, 12, will be Lyra Belacqua in all three of the films, which are based on Philip Pullman's hit trilogy of novels.

The author was very happy with Dakota, and said: "She has just the combination of qualities that make up the complicated character of this girl."

The first film, The Golden Compass, is due out on 16 November 2007.

The first book is called Northern Lights in the UK, but was given the title the Golden Compass in the US.

The trilogy of books is about the adventures of a girl in another universe, who sets off to find her best friend after he is kidnapped.

Queues at the Lyra auditions in Cambridge
Queues at the Lyra auditions in Cambridge
'Easy decision'

Open auditions were held all over the UK, and Dakota got the part after going to a casting call in Cambridge.

Director Chris Weitz, who also wrote the script, said: "Dakota made what should have been an extremely difficult decision quite easy.

"We wanted a completely new face for Lyra, but I was surprised that any young girl, especially one without training, could light up the screen as Dakota does"



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