HAVING already dispensed with every boy’s fantasy of becoming James Bond, Daniel Craig is set to tick another two dreams of the list.
In his new film, Cowboys & Aliens, he gets to act alongside Harrison Ford and play a hero of the American West.
As a child, the 007 star – who will soon to reprise his iconic role in the 23rd movie of the secret agent franchise – 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!’,” he recalls, his icy-blue eyes twinkling.
It’s hard to imagine the British actor, the first to be cast, losing his cool over a fellow thespian, but he freely admits: “Of course I was excited. Yeah, a little bit. It’s Harrison Ford, for Christ’s sake!
“Harrison’s lovely. First and foremost, he’s an actor and he loves the job. So once you get over the fact he’s a screen legend, you find out he just wants to get on with the work.”
The Chester-born 43-year-old, who married actress Rachel Weisz in June, needed no convincing to play loner Jake Lonergan – another childhood dream.
“I’ve wanted to play a cowboy for as long as I can remember,” says Craig, fingering his wedding band. “There was nothing more complicated than that. And with Jon Favreau directing, Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard producing, it seemed like a good deal.”
It didn’t take the actor, who based his character on the “silence of Clint Eastwood”, long to get into character.
“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,” he continues.
In the film based on Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s graphic novel, Ford relished playing the villainous cattle-rancher Woodrow Dolarhyde.
“He’s cruel and unusual – a bit of a bully used to getting his own way,” explains the Indiana Jones star.
“But. in the 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.”
Favreau 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.
“I don’t do stunts. Stuntmen do stunts. I do physical acting,” says Ford in a no-nonsense tone.
“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,” Craig adds, admitting his riding technique is improving but he’s no expert.
While he may have escaped the stunts, the Bond star – 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.”
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. 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.
“I think he’s one of the best directors around,” Craig continues. “I enjoyed every second of working with him.”
COWBOYS and Aliens opens in cinemas today.