LOS ANGELES - An 11-year-old British boy has edged out thousands of competitors to win one of the most coveted film roles for a child in years - that of Harry Potter.
Daniel Radcliffe, who played a young David Copperfield on television, has been selected to play the title role in Warner Bros' upcoming movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Radcliffe's selection as the plucky young apprentice wizard capped an extensive talent search among thousands of kids who sought the role in the upcoming film, based on the first of four bestselling children's books by J.K. Rowling.
Newcomers Emma Watson, aged 10, and Rupert Grint, 11, whose acting experience to date consists only of parts in school plays, will join the cast as Harry's best friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.
"These are magical roles, the kind that come around once in a lifetime, and they required talented children who can bring magic to the screen," said Lorenzo di Bonaventura, president of world theatrical production for Warners.
Director Chris Columbus said he felt at times he might never find the right actor.
"Then Dan walked into the room and we all knew we had found Harry. We were equally elated on meeting Emma and Rupert."
In addition to last year's BBC production of David Copperfield, shown in New Zealand this year, Radcliffe will be seen later in the year in John Boorman's The Tailor of Panama,based on the John Le Carre novel.
The roles of Harry, Hermione and Ron are the only ones announced so far, though Britain's Alan Rickman and Irish actor Richard Harris reportedly have been in talks to play the roles of Professor Snape and headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
Dame Maggie Smith has emerged in connection with teacher, Professor McGonagall, and Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane has been linked to Hagrid, the school groundsman who befriends Harry.
Meanwhile, the Harry Potter craze is soon to go interactive.
Electronic Arts Inc, the world's largest interactive entertainment software company, said it has received exclusive worldwide rights to develop, publish and distribute computer and video games based on the Harry Potter books.