British actor Clive Owen has found a novel way to play JAMES BOND - in a top secret cameo in The Pink Panther remake.

The DERAILED star, who was the favourite to land the role of 007 when Pierce Brosnan's stint as the superspy ended last year (05), plays undercover British spy 006 in Steve Martin's new comedy, which debuted at number one at the US box office at the weekend (12FEB06).

Dressed in black tails, white shirt and black bow-tie, he features in a two-minute scene mocking the secret service.

In the scene, Owen chases masked bandits robbing a casino. He is forced to don a gas mask when the crooks spray poisonous chemicals at him.

Pink Panther star Steve Martin thinks Owen's uncredited cameo is one of the film's funniest scenes.

He says, "I think we knew at the time we approached Clive he was being considered for James Bond. I think that's a big part of the joke of having him play our Agent 006."