Filed by Caroline Frost

James Bond is back in action as of today, with star Daniel Craig promising it would be shirts off again for the 23rd outing of the secret agent – as he said, "that's the gig." Craig headed an all-star lineup in London on Thursday, as the cast for the forthcoming James Bond film -- announced as 'Skyfall' -- were revealed in all their collective glamour.

Craig was joined by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and his regular castmate Dame Judi Dench. Filling out the seats for a packed press conference were actresses Naomie Harris and French star Berenice Marlohe. And in the villain's chair -- a glinty-eyed Javier Bardem.

Absent cast-members were also announced -- Ben Whishaw, Albert Finney and Ralph Fiennes -- meaning director Mendes has a proper A-list ensemble at his disposal.

Producers revealed nothing about the much-anticipated theme tune, saying only that "various acts are being considered."

Craig was looking crisp as a button, obviously the beneficiary of many, many hours training to be in the best shape possible for his third outing as the secret agent. But he was defiantly unsmiling, especially compared with the chuckly Bardem.

The lead star admitted the delay in filming this 23rd Bond -- due to financial difficulties at MGM -- had been frustrating but, as he said, "I kept myself busy." (This was going to be the closest we got to hearing about his surprise wedding to Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz.)
He was far happier paying tribute to producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, without whom, he revealed "we wouldn't be here today" and the "amazing cast and crew."

Meanwhile, Mendes was giving very little away, refusing to admit there would even be the usual gadgets in the film, and saying of the other characters, "you might recognize them, you might not."
What he did promise was "lots of surprises." Draw your own conclusions from the synopsis for 'Skyfall': "Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost."
Mendes also confirmed that filming would begin next week in Whitehall, London, and would also take place in the Scottish Highlands and Turkey. The director was pressed about whether he would remain at the helm of another Bond. While his producers looked at him expectantly, he only grinned and said "If I'm still having this much fun. Ask me in six months!"

Bardem is obviously having fun already with his role. Questioned whether he minded playing yet another evil character after his Oscar-winning turn in 'No Country For Old Men,' he looked suitably hurt, and asked, "Who told you a villain makes a bad person?"
The charismatic Spaniard was obviously the only person in the room who hasn't feasted on a wealth of Bond films. For everyone else there, as well as for millions of fans around the world, anticipation for this film, with such a stellar cast and Mendes' creative hands driving the wheel, is high.

[Photo: Getty]



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