The appointment of Bell, who appeared as the title character in Billy Elliot at the age of 14, to play Tintin coincides with the announcement that James Bond star Daniel Craig will play Red Rackham, one of the villains of the story. Craig recently starred opposite Bell in Defiance, an action drama set during the Second World War.
Other British actors associated with the project are Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who will portray Thompson and Thomson, the pair of bowler-hatted detectives with no instinct for solving crime. Andy Serkis, the British actor who appeared as Gollum in the Rings trilogy, will play Captain Haddock, the whisky-soaked sea dog who acts as Tintin's travelling companion.
Toby Jones, who recently portrayed Karl Rove in W, and Mackenzie Crook, who appeared in the television series The Office and the Pirates of the Caribbean films, will be the other English stars to join them. Mark Rodwell, of Moulinsart, which controls the rights to Tintin, said that the film-makers were allowed a certain degree of latitude as long as they did not alter the fundamentals of the story.
"I don't think a love interest would be possible. But when you're transforming something from the written page on to the big screen you have to have some new characters. What Steven and Peter (Jackson) are trying to do is be as true to Herge"s original story as possible but they have to have some artistic licence," Times Online quoted him as saying.
Spielberg bought the option to create a Tintin film from Herge in 1982, a year before the author's death. It lapsed in the late 1980s but the director took out another in 2003. He exercised it four years later when he felt that animation technology had become sophisticated enough to do the books justice.
Buy Movie Tickets
Receive FREE Movie News & Gupshup
In Your Inbox
In Your Inbox