Young British actor Jamie Bell has remained firm friends with Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry, who catapulted him to stardom four years ago (00).

Jamie, 17, says 43-year-old Daldry is a big influence on all his career and life decisions, and always asks the older man's advice before accepting any new film role.

Bell, who has just played part of a cripple in Nicholas Nickleby, says, "He reads a lot of my work - it's all his fault, if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here. He feels responsible for me and worries about me because of the perils of the film industry."

Of the challenge of playing a physically challenged character, he adds, "I rehearsed with the choreographer for two weeks and watched films like MY LEFT FOOT and The Elephant Man to try to get his feet right. It was interesting to see how someone like that gets about in everyday life."

25/06/2003 02:27