Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig have a lot in common. Both play iconic action heroes in hugely successful franchises. Both married beautiful actresses in private ceremonies. Both are famous for being strong, silent types — emphasis on the silent part, especially when it comes to interviews.
And now, on a warm July afternoon, both men — Indiana Jones and James Bond — are sitting on a porch at the exclusive Resort at Paws Up in Montana, looking about as thrilled as a couple of moose at the start of hunting season. They’re about to begin doing high-intensity press for Cowboys & Aliens, a PG-13-rated genre-mashing Western (out July 29). The movie was produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, exec-produced by Steven Spielberg, and directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man) — who joined his stars for this interview. ”I can’t do the tits-and-teeth stuff,” Craig, 43, says when asked about the grind of promoting a movie. ”I’m not hardwired to do that. I can’t sell.” Ford, 69, is even more succinct: He just growls slightly.
As the men begin talking, though, the mood on the porch becomes less and less crabby, largely thanks to Favreau’s warm presence. The three amigos eventually start joking and reminiscing. They even laugh a couple of times. Doing press may be a buzzkill occasionally, but it’s gotta be easier than saving the world.
This idea for a movie about aliens invading the Old West has been around for a while. There have been lots of drafts. At one point, it was going to be a Men in Black-type comedy. Whose idea was it to make it a more serious, deadpan alien-invasion film?
Harrison Ford Mine. But I didn’t tell anyone until the third day.
Jon Favreau Actually, that was Ron Howard. When he came on board to produce, that’s one of the things he did. But look, it’s called Cowboys & Aliens. I mean, we are in on the joke. It’s not like we’re trying to make Unforgiven here.
Daniel Craig The title Cowboys & Aliens is what it is. But it’s just one gag. And the gag is that aliens come down in cowboy times. But once you tell that gag, it’s over. So we all decided to tell a story. A journey of redemption, the journey of two characters that have to redeem themselves with the backdrop of this sort of crazy [alien invasion] thing. So we just played the reality of it.
Harrison, you took some convincing before you signed on. You weren’t immediately in love with the script?
Ford No, I read it and frankly didn’t get it at all. But then I talked to Jon about the concept and the visual stuff and I sort of figured out how it might work. What I liked about it was that these people in the 1870s in New Mexico had no concept of outer space, no concept of life on other planets.
They call the aliens ”demons.”
Ford That’s why I bought it completely. It just made perfect sense that these people would react this way. It wasn’t unthinkable. It didn’t seem that artificial.
Favreau That was the real trick — how do you take this high-concept thing and find a way to bring some truth to it?
It also makes it tricky to market. A serious movie with a comic title…
Favreau Well, people might want to eat cotton candy, but after a few bites they might want something more.
You’re premiering the film at Comic-Con. That’s a big deal for the convention. It’s the first time a major tentpole has had a world premiere there. You guys went last year while you were still making Cowboys & Aliens. Harrison, you were actually led in wearing handcuffs.
Ford I was drugged and handcuffed, yes.
Craig Because you asked to be drugged and handcuffed. You said you would only go if you were drugged and handcuffed.
Ford Not both at the same time.
What did you think of the convention?
Ford It was very dark. The lights were on us and I couldn’t see what was out there.
You didn’t see any families dressed like Wookiees or stormtroopers?
Ford I saw nothing. But you know, I’m delighted to go anyplace where I’m welcomed like that.
As a demigod…
Ford But also a dinosaur.
Is that how you see yourself? A dinosaur?
Ford I’m just glad to have been able to continue to live the life I’m living.
Favreau You know, we didn’t wish Harrison happy birthday. It was his birthday yesterday.
Ford I have another one coming in a year…. There’s a reason I’m on the cover of last month’s AARP.
Are you feeling your age?
Do you feel your age?
Ford Huh? [All laughing]
Both of you guys were recently married. Harrison, you married Calista Flockhart while you were in the middle of making Cowboys & Aliens last summer, right?
Favreau I got Harrison a fondue set when I found out.
Ford Yes, he did. We were registered. I wanted a fondue set.
Craig Where is it now?
Craig We didn’t f—ing register. Someone said that to me. I said, ”What does that mean?” I don’t need a fridge. I’ve got one.
Well, you and Rachel Weisz did have a very private wedding. Why did you decide to get married that way?
Craig This question answers itself. You said we had a private wedding and now you want to ask about the wedding. You are barking up the wrong tree. No disrespect, but if you think it through, that’s the reason we’ve said f— all on that subject. Because it was private.
That ring on your wedding finger, Daniel — what’s that made of? It looks almost like copper.
Craig [Smiling coldly] Really. You just see a line in the sand and want to f—ing step over it.
You know, there’s an interesting karmic connection between you two actors. At one time early in his career Steven Spielberg wanted to make a James Bond movie.
Craig He asked [the late Bond producer Cubby Broccoli] if he could direct one. Cubby was like, ”Who the f— are you?” And then he did Jaws, and asked him again, and Cubby told him to f— off again because he was going to be too expensive.
Right. And then he went on to create his own action-hero franchise with Indiana Jones.
Craig How great is that? It’s a win-win situation.
Ford For everybody except Tom Selleck.
Tom Selleck was going to be Indiana Jones, wasn’t he?
Ford He had the f—ing job. But he also had an overhanging commitment to CBS for Magnum, P.I. and they exercised the option. I just stepped in.
There’s also the story about George Lucas almost casting Richard Dreyfuss as Han Solo.
Ford I’ve never heard Richard’s side of the story or even George’s side, but I was [at George’s office during auditions] and saw George come in with Dreyfuss, and I assumed he was interviewing him. But maybe they were just chatting about baseball.
How different the universe might have been if Tom Selleck had played Indy and Richard Dreyfuss had been cast as Han Solo.
Ford Maybe it would have been a better universe.
Favreau My first role was in a Tom Selleck movie called Folks! I had one line. So if Tom Selleck had done Indiana Jones instead of Harrison, he might not have done Folks! and I might not be here now. You might be sitting here talking to other people.
Tom Selleck and Richard Dreyfuss.
Ford [Laughs] It probably would be a hell of a lot better an interview.
Have either of you actors turned down jobs and later regretted it?
Ford There have been roles that I’ve turned down because I just couldn’t figure out how to do it. And people have made great successes out of them.
Ford No. You know, Tom Selleck doesn’t go around saying he was first choice for Indiana Jones. You don’t do that. It doesn’t matter.
Craig I think actors make up their mind to let this sort of stuff go, or else you just get bitter and twisted as you get older. You’ve got to look forward, always forward.
When you were first offered Bond, did you hesitate at all?
Craig I turned it down. I was like, ”This is silly. I’ve got a career. I mean, lovely, thank you very much, I’m very honored that you would even consider it, but I can’t do it — sorry.”
What changed your mind?
Craig It was a good script. I went, ”Okay, yeah, I understand.”
How worried were you about Bond not happening again because of the MGM financial mess? Is that one of the reasons you signed on for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? To have a backup franchise?
Craig I would have been disappointed if I hadn’t been able to do another Bond movie. But I just got on with what I was doing. I was lucky enough that Jon came along and said, ”I’d like you to be in this cowboy movie.” And the next thing you know, I have David Fincher on the phone saying he’d like me to be in a movie based on a best-selling book.
How do the dailies look on Tattoo? Is it going to be as violent as the Swedish adaptation of the book? Rape? People being set on fire? All that stuff will still be in there?
Craig I haven’t seen anything. Just a couple of short scenes and what I’ve watched on playback. But it’s a $90 million adult movie. That’s what’s exciting about it. We haven’t had to dilute anything.
Since we’re playing alternate-universe games, Harrison, how would you have played James Bond if you’d been cast as 007?
Ford I would have played it straight. I would have told the story. You serve the story. You don’t have to reflect on how other people have played the part before. You just see what are the opportunities.
Wait a second. If somebody were taking over Indiana Jones from you — say, Shia LaBeouf — how could he possibly do that role without studying what’s been done with it before? How could Daniel play Bond without being aware of what Sean Connery did with that role?
Craig All it means is I go back and watch every Bond movie. I make sure I’ve got what’s going on and then I get on with what I’m doing…. I mean, if you want a mimic, get someone who can do Sean Connery…. I watched Bond movies, I watched spy thrillers from the ’70s. I just did my research, did the job I was supposed to do, which was to absorb what it looked like in the ’60s, what the feeling of it was. But I don’t mimic people. They didn’t employ someone because they looked like that person. They brought them in because they wanted their individuality. [Under his breath] I never liked Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan much.
What was that?
Craig [Laughs] No, just mumbling s—.
Harrison, there are constant rumors about a fifth Indiana Jones film. Rumors that Indy will even die in it. Is there anything to those rumors? You are giving me a blank stare.
Ford That’s about all there is at this point. Rumors. But I’ve always wanted my characters to die. I thought Han Solo should have died at the end of the last Star Wars movie. Just because it seemed right for that character. But I would be happy to do another one.
Okay, let’s finish things up here with a question about hats and chaps. I know that an enormous amount of discussion went into the choice of Harrison’s hat in Cowboys & Aliens. The last thing you wanted was for it to look like a fedora, like Indy’s. How many different hats did you go through?
Ford I would reject them without even putting them on. I said, ”This guy wouldn’t wear this hat. If I put that hat on, I don’t know who this guy is.”
Favreau The hat chooses the actor. It’s like in Harry Potter. The hat found him.
Ford I like the details of costume a lot. The costume is a very important thing. It speaks before you do. You know what you’re looking at. You get a reference and it gives context about the other characters and the relationships.
What about the chaps? Did you feel the same way about your costume, Daniel?
Craig Yeah, it is very important. In a cowboy movie, it’s kind of essential. But what I really loved about this movie was the fact that I picked one costume and it stayed. I didn’t have a rack of 15 changes. I would walk into my trailer and my costume is hanging where it was hanging yesterday. So when they brought in the chaps and asked what I thought, I went, ”Okay, I’ll try them on. Is Harrison wearing them?”
Did they want you in chaps, too, Harrison, or were they too scared to ask?
Favreau They wrestled over them like a sale at Woolworth’s.
Ford on Craig, Craig on Ford
Daniel Craig is partial to Harrison Ford’s turn as a cop in a 1982 sci-fi classic. Ford thinks Craig’s finest hour — of the hours he’s seen, anyway — was as a mental patient in a 2005 thriller. Personally, we’d have picked Ford as the guy with a fedora and whip and Craig as a spy in a tux, but what do we know?
Daniel, what is your favorite Harrison Ford movie?
Favreau Besides Cowboys & Aliens. I just want to caution that. Okay.
Craig Blade Runner.
That’s a good choice.
Craig He hasn’t seen any of my movies.
[To Ford] You’ve seen the Bond movies. Come on. You have to have seen them.
Craig He doesn’t watch anything. Don’t ask him.
Ford What was the name of that movie…seriously?
Craig The Jacket? The Jacket.
Ford Because I told you, right?
Ford Just an awesome, awesome performance. In probably a 10-minute scene. We had already been working on the [Cowboys & Aliens] script, and I’d met Daniel. Then I’m watching this guy in The Jacket and thinking, ”Who the f— is that? Why can’t I figure out who this is?” Just a brilliant character. And no rubber noses or anything, no s— like that. Just a wonderfully complex characterization. It was such a treat to sit and watch this scene. It blew me away.
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