Monica Bellucci thought she was going to be the new M in 'Spectre'.

The 50-year-old actress was surprised when she was asked to be in the forthcoming James Bond movie because of her age but was delighted to learn she will be a love interest for Daniel Craig's suave spy character.

She said: ''I think of myself as a Bond woman. I did wonder why they asked me to be in the film. Did they want me to take over from Judi Dench [as Bond's boss M]?

''But then director Sam Mendes explained James Bond was going to have a story with a mature woman.''

Monica - who is the oldest actress to ever be cast as a Bond girl - hopes her casting will prove that older women are just as sexy as younger starlets.

She said: ''I think it is important to show a woman at 50 can be just as attractive and interesting as a woman at 30. Women should not be judged by one standard of beauty.

''Older women deserve as much respect and attention for being just as interesting and sensual as younger women, maybe even more so. True sexiness is in the mind, not the age of the body.''

And the brunette beauty is delighted to be entering film history with a role in the iconic franchise.

She told Britain's HELLO! magazine: ''I feel like I'm entering into a chapter of film history that is part of our collective imagination. It makes me really happy.

''Especially when I think of some of the women in the more recent Bond movies - Olga Kurylenko, Eva Green, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike. These women all combined beauty and talent.''