Sony Pictures said Thursday it would end months of speculation on Friday, revealing the name of the next James Bond at a press conference in London.
Producers announced last year that they were seeking a replacement for Pierce Brosnan, who has played the suave British spy in the last four Bond films.
Since then, rumor has linked many actors to the part, including Britons Clive Owen, Ioan Gruffudd, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Gerard Butler and Ewan McGregor, Irishman Colin Farrell and Australians Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger and Eric Bana.
British tabloid reports this week said the role will go to Daniel Craig, a blue-eyed British actor who would be the first blond Bond.
Although he's not well known in the United States, Craig, 37, has a busy British career that includes roles in the landmark 1990s TV drama "Our Friends in the North" and films including "The Mother," "Enduring Love" and "Layer Cake."
He played Paul Newman's sinister son in "Road to Perdition," was poet Ted Hughes opposite Gwyneth Paltrow's Sylvia Plath in "Sylvia" and appeared in this year's thriller "The Jacket" with Adrien Brody.
Craig is also the tabloids' dream Bond. He once dated headline-grabbing model Kate Moss and has been linked to Sienna Miller, his "Layer Cake"' co-star and on-off fiancee of Jude Law.
Earlier this year, Craig praised 007 as "an iconographic figure in moviemaking."
"I think you'd have to be stupid not to consider something like that," he said, but added that he hadn't given the role "any serious thought."
The 21st Bond film, "Casino Royale," is due to be released next year. It will be directed by Martin Campbell, who also directed Brosnan's first Bond outing, "GoldenEye," in 1995.