A 12-year-old British girl has been chosen to play the lead role in the big screen adaptation of Philip Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy, following extensive auditions. Unknown DAKOTA BLUE RICHARDS will play LYRA BELACQUA in THE GOLDEN COMPASS (THE NORTHERN LIGHTS in the UK) when filming starts on 4 September (06), with Oscar-nominated Chris Weitz directing. Weitz says, "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." Pullman adds, "As soon as I saw Dakota's screen test, I realised that the search was over. "Dakota has just the combination of qualities that make up the complicated character of this girl, and I very much look forward to seeing the film take shape, with Dakota's Lyra at the heart of it."