Ukraine's Olga Kurlyenko picked as new "Bond girl"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In the secretive world of movie spy James Bond, the “Bond girl” for the new installment in the film series had been top secret, but on Monday Bond’s backers said Ukrainian bombshell Olga Kurylenko is the actress.

Columbia Pictures, the studio behind the popular movies about the British secret agent, said the 28 year-old Kurylenko has been cast in one of the most coveted roles in the movies -- 007’s sidekick for the still untitled Bond flick.

The film, which is the 22nd in the series that dates back to 1962’s “Dr. No,” is due in theaters in November and stars Daniel Craig as the dashing British spy who regularly saves the world from a destructive evil villain.

Early reports had actress Gemma Arterton as the new Bond girl, but even though Arterton has a role in the new film it is not as large as Kurylenko’s, said a source close to the film.

The Ukrainian actress joins a long list of leading ladies to be cast alongside the super spy including Ursula Andress in “Dr No,” Halle Berry, Kim Basinger and most recently Eva Green in “Casino Royale,” which grossed nearly $600 million in worldwide ticket sales.

In the past, being a “Bond girl” has given actresses massive exposure and launched lucrative careers.

A former model, Kurylenko was most recently seen alongside Timothy Olyphant in last November’s “Hitman.”

British actor Craig made his first appearance as the secret agent in “Casino Royale” and returns for this newest movie directed by Marc Foster, better known for his widely acclaimed dramas like “Finding Neverland” and “The Kite Runner.”

Also returning from “Royale” are Judi Dench as Bond’s boss M, Jeffery Wright as CIA agent Felix Leiter and Mathieu Amarilic, currently playing French film “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” as the new Bond villain.

Columbia Pictures is a unit of Sony Corp.