LONDON • Film stars mingled with royals at the world premiere of Spectre on Monday, marking British secret agent James Bond's glitzy return to the silver screen.
Hundreds of cheering fans greeted Bond actor Daniel Craig upon arrival at London's Royal Albert Hall, where residents from nearby buildings watched the premiere from their windows.
Returning for the fourth time as 007, Craig said his own excitement at being allowed to continue in the series stemmed from his involvement beyond acting.
"I've just been allowed to be creatively involved with these films from the very beginning and I've continued to do it with this," he said. "Thankfully, we've just got the most amazing team around us and we figure it out."
Craig, 47, has been quoted as saying he wanted out of the franchise and told an interviewer in July that he would rather slit his wrists than play 007 again. Asked how much he knew of his future as Bond, Craig told Reuters: "I know enough."
He was joined on the red carpet by French star Lea Seydoux, 30, who plays Madeleine Swann, daughter of a former Bond villain; and Italian beauty Monica Bellucci who, at 51, is reportedly the oldest ever Bond girl. She plays Lucia Sciarra, a criminal's widow who warns Bond off his dangerous quest.
Ralph Fiennes, who plays Bond handler and loyalist MI6 chief M, said it was "a very well-crafted film". "It has great energy and forward momentum," he said.
With him were director Sam Mendes and movie producer Barbara Broccoli, who later welcomed Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate and Prince Harry to the premiere.
The film begins with a final mission set by the previous M (Judi Dench) and sees a haggard-looking Bond shaken, not stirred by his past. Bond early on in the plot brushes off a question about what he would do if he was not an assassin, but spends the rest of the film working it out.
Trailers have shown action- packed scenes as 007 uncovers the shady organisation named Spectre (Special Executive for Counter- Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) and its dark link to villain Franz Oberhauser, played by Oscar winner Christoph Waltz.
"It's a terrible pressure to be iconic and I practised it at home secretly," Waltz said.
Britain's Guardian and Telegraph newspapers gave Spectre a maximum five stars, with The Telegraph praising the film's "swaggering show of confidence".
However, the Financial Times gave it only two stars and said it was attempting to tinker with the winning formula of 2012's blockbuster Skyfall while "clearly being thrown into panic at the thought".
Spectre, the 24th Bond film, is out in British cinemas and will screen in Singapore from Nov 5.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE