As Cowboys & Aliens hits cinemas, Shereen Low gets up close and personal with Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford
ALL young boys love playing cowboys and Indians and it appears Daniel Craig is no different. “I’ve wanted to play a cowboy for as long as I can remember,” he says. “There was nothing more complicated than that. And with Jon Favreau directing, Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard producing, it seemed like a good deal.”
Chester-born Craig plays loner Jake Lonergan in the summer blockbuster Cowboys and Aliens, based on Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s graphic novel.
He based his character on the “silence of Clint Eastwood” and says it didn’t take him long to get into the role.
“The cowboy just comes out. We’re in a desert, I’m wearing chaps, a gun around my waist, cowboy boots, a hat and I’m riding on a horse. I couldn’t have been happier,” says the 43-year-old.
In the film, Ford – best known for his portrayals of Han Solo in Star Wars and explorer Indiana Jones – relished playing the villainous cattle-rancher Woodrow Dolarhyde.
“He’s cruel and unusual – a bit of a bully used to getting his own way,” he explains.
“But in context of the events, you come to know something more about him and the circumstances he’s involved in. I’m not so much a fan of action or genre as I am of storytelling and character. That’s where my heart lies.”
For many fans, Cowboys and Aliens is basically James Bond and Indiana Jones sharing screen time together, although the two may not want to see it like that.
Ford, who celebrated his 69th birthday last month, “hemmed and hawed” about the role until he discussed his concerns with Favreau. But he finally agreed because of the talents of the people involved.
“It was the opportunity to play a character different from any I’ve played before. The chance to make a movie that might be popular and successful. All of that, and a bit of money,” he says with a smile.
“And I wanted the chance to work with Daniel. He’s a very talented actor and fun to be with. Simple and straight forward.”
The appreciation is mutual, with Craig revealing: “This was a dream come true. Harrison’s lovely – you’ll find out.
“First and foremost, he’s an actor and he loves the job. He loves getting on with it and the collaborative process. So, once you get over the fact he’s a screen legend, you find out he just wants to get on with the work,” Craig adds.
As a child Craig, who grew up in Hoylake, Wirral – found himself shaken and stirred by Ford’s films, especially Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.
“I went to the cinema on my own, saw Blade Runner and thought, ‘I want to work with that man!’ And I did,” he recalls, his icy-blue eyes twinkling.
Action fans can expect thrills and spills, yet despite being known for carving careers as action heroes, both actors admit they left the more elaborate stunts to the pros.
“A lot of what you see is my brilliant double and stuntmen. We also had a bunch of wranglers and cowboys who helped me look good in the saddle,” says Craig, admitting his riding technique is improving but he’s no expert.
While he may have escaped the stunts, Craig – whose muscles stretch his tightly-buttoned shirt and well-fitted jeans – definitely put in some hard work for his impressive physique.
“I genuinely don’t think about it. It is what it is,” he says, shrugging. “I try to get in shape for the movies because I like it, and because I thought we should have a skinny cowboy who looked in shape because he should look like a killer.”
So how comfortable was the actor, who married actress Rachel Weisz in June, showing off his body with shots focusing on his pecs and derriere?
“The derriere? You mean the arse?” he says, bursting out into a hearty laugh. “You don’t have to say it in French to make it sound OK. That’s funny! I wasn’t operating the camera – you’d have to ask the cameraman about that.”
Fortunately, all his hard work won’t be wasted, as Craig gears up for the next 007 film.
“I’m looking forward to the next James Bond. Sam Mendes is directing it (who he worked with in Road To Perdition). We’re ready to go; we’ve got a script and start shooting in November. I’m excited to get back into the suit,” he says, but is tight-lipped when questioned further.
His next big screen outing is in the Hollywood remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher.
“From what I’ve seen, it looks amazing,” he continues. “It’s going to be an adult movie. It’s not going to be dumbed down in any way, because we’re trying to appeal to a wider audience. I think Fincher’s one of the best directors around and I enjoyed every second of working with him.”