How I made 007 mad, very mad
Declan Cashin meets the stars of 'Cowboys and Aliens', and incurs the wrath of James Bond himself
It's not every day that you provoke James Bond into telling you to f**k off. But that's what happened throughout the course of an interview with Daniel Craig to promote his new sci-fi/western mash-up movie Cowboys and Aliens.
In the 'does-what-it-says-on-the-tin' action film, Craig stars as an amnesiac cowboy who stumbles into an Old West town living under the iron-fisted rule of a gruff Civil War colonel (Harrison Ford). The only hint of his history is a high-tech shackle on his wrist.
Once more, the 43-year-old Craig is called upon to be the taciturn action hero, administering and receiving beatings and all-round general ass-whuppings. So, I asked, doesn't he ever wish that he'd signed up to play a genteel Jane Austen-esque piece of eye-candy in a restrained period drama instead?
He fixed those famous blue peepers on me. "Oh f**k off, mate," he replied. I froze in response; it was hard to know when Craig was being serious or not. His arms, bulging out of a fitted navy T-shirt, are about the size of my thighs. I gulped, but then he gave a small smile, indicating that I was off the hook.
"Look, I'll take any job that's given to me," he continued. "If I like it, I'll do it."
This is shaping up to be a big year for Craig. In addition to Cowboys and Aliens, he will appear in Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin and in David Fincher's US remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. His private life has been turbo-charged also: in June, he secretly married Rachel Weisz.
Then in November Craig will suit up once more to play 007 in the next James Bond film, known for now simply as 'Bond 23'.
"It's going to be a great movie," he enthused. "We've got a great director [Sam Mendes] and I'm very excited about the script. I'm going to be very suave in it."
However good the new movie will be, chances are it won't contain any moment that will eclipse the iconic shot of Craig emerging from the sea in tiny blue shorts in his first Bond outing, Casino Royale.
"Yes, I have a blown-up version of that image hanging right over my bed," he joked. "Really, I don't think about the 'sex symbol' tag very seriously. But it's nice for people to think so."
When Craig was asked about his Cowboys and Aliens co-star, Harrison Ford, he admitted to feeling a tad intimidated before meeting him. "But he's really a lovely, funny man," he said, before adding, with a smile: "depending on what mood he's in."
The 69-year-old Ford is known for being a difficult interview, and when he first sits down with the Irish Independent to discuss Cowboys and Aliens, he seems positively bored, and even annoyed about having to be there.
Luckily, the movie legend soon warmed up. Just don't ask him about movies -- his or anyone else's. "I'm not much of a movie buff or film historian," he said. "I don't watch films at home. I prefer to watch them in movie theatres, but somehow I tend not to get out of the house very much."
So he doesn't look back on his own phenomenal career, which has taken in some of the most successful movies and franchises in Hollywood history?
"No. Rarely, if ever," he replied. "If I'm watching TV and I come across something of mine while flicking through the channels, sometimes I'll watch it but only for a little while."
Considering his attitude and approach to the job, fanatical fans -- and they don't come more fanatical than Star Wars and Indiana Jones geeks -- must drive him crazy?
"I don't think of them as fans; I think of them as customers," he said. "I'm very grateful for their patronage, and to the extent that's possible I try to accommodate their desires."
This seemed like a good time to get in the obligatory Indiana Jones geek question: will there be a fifth instalment (after 2008's ho-hum Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)? "It depends on whether there's an idea, a script and a story that George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and I agree upon," comes the practised, diplomatic response. "Then we'll see."
Despite his reputation as a reluctant star (and interviewee), Ford does have a sense of humour about himself.
In fact, he has played around with and even poked fun at his own image during the promotional campaign for Cowboys and Aliens, appearing in a skit on one US late night chat show in which he gets into a row over a woman with Chewbacca from Star Wars.
"I think I'm ridiculous," Ford stated. "My life has been ridiculous, so I'm quite happy to make a joke of it."
He added that he doesn't have any plans to retire either. "That's one of the things I like about my job. If I were a professional pilot, I'd probably be required to stop flying commercially at this age, or I'd be required to have a younger co-pilot," Ford said. "I like to work and I like to have work. I plan to keep going."
Finally, as he approaches 70, what has been the biggest life lesson he has learned?
Ford smiled and replied: "Don't grow old. It'll f**king kill you."
Cowboys and Aliens is in cinemas nationwide now