SPACE COW­BOY

Ac­tor Daniel Craig is an in­tensely pri­vate man, writes Lisa Marks

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

WEST­ERNS may be an en­dan­gered movie genre but at the 15,000ha Paws-Up ranch in Mon­tana, cowhands in Stet­sons still tend their cat­tle, while horses graze in the fields and trucks piled high with straw rum­ble rhyth­mi­cally along dusty roads.

It’s there, against a back­drop of breath­tak­ing beauty and end­less skies, that Daniel Craig, the star of Cowboys

& Aliens – a movie mashup like no other – strides across the lawn of one of the es­tate’s colo­nial-style cot­tages.

Look­ing taut and pur­pose­ful in jeans, avi­a­tor shades and a white V-neck T-shirt that neatly frames his mus­cu­lar torso, his face ap­pears as rugged as the land­scape around him, punc­tured only by his pierc­ing blue eyes and the boy­ish blond hair.

Although his smile is charm­ing, there’s an un­der­ly­ing sense of dan­ger. His Cowboys &

Aliens di­rec­tor, Jon Favreau, has called him the ‘‘ Steve McQueen of his gen­er­a­tion’’. And for good rea­son. He’s a unique pres­ence who takes no prisoners on and off the screen.

No­to­ri­ously pri­vate, Craig dis­plays quirks above and be­yond the usual level of A-list para­noia.

Con­grat­u­lated on his re­cent hush-hush wed­ding to actress Rachel Weisz, he smiles but re­mains tight-lipped.

He po­si­tions a cam­era away from him be­cause ‘‘ he doesn’t want to end up on the in­ter­net’’ and re­fuses a request for a pho­to­graph.

Later, when asked about the tat­too on his right arm, which reads, ‘‘ A time for time­less­ness’’, he clamps his arms to his sides and says curtly. ‘‘ That’s just for me’’.

He offers a sim­ple ex­pla­na­tion for his ex­treme wari­ness.

‘‘ Talk­ing to the press is part of the process,’’ he says. ‘‘ And as much as I don’t look for­ward to this part of the process, I’m mak­ing movies that have to make money to be deemed suc­cess­ful, so I have to sell them. ‘‘ I don’t mind talk­ing about Cowboys &

Aliens and I had im­mense fun mak­ing it, but sell­ing it is what it’s about.’’

His hon­esty feels like a punch in the face but, at the same time, it’s re­fresh­ing.

‘‘ My pri­vate life is my pri­vate life and as I go on, I be­come more and more pri­vate.’’

That’s not to say Craig ( pic­tured) is com­pletely hu­mour­less.

When asked about his free time he smiles and dead­pans: ‘‘ I never have any free time and if I do, I spend it with friends and fam­ily.

‘‘ I just do the nor­mal stuff. I don’t have any hob­bies I can tell you about.

‘‘ I don’t go fish­ing or sew. OK, I ad­mit, there’s some needle­point at the week­end.’’

Jok­ing aside, his role as Jake Lon­er­gan, the mys­te­ri­ous gun­slinger, along­side Har­ri­son Ford, Sam Rock­well, Olivia Wilde and a fist­ful of CGI aliens, is a risky move.

‘‘ This isn’t a movie for the crit­ics,’’ he says.

But he loved the project from the start and at the same time, ful­filled a life­time am­bi­tion.

‘‘ The script re­ally turned me on to this and it looked fun,’’ he ad­mits. ‘‘ Plus, I al­ways wanted to play a cow­boy.’’

Un­like Ford and Wilde, he was a rel­a­tive new­comer to horse rid­ing and had to work hard to keep up with his ex­pe­ri­enced co-stars.

‘‘ I just tried to cling on for grim death,’’ he says, laugh­ing. ‘‘ I learned that the most im­por­tant rules for a cow­boy are don’t fall off the horse and what­ever you do, don’t lose the hat.’’

If Cowboys & Aliens is a suc­cess at the box of­fice, it’ll be his third fran­chise; he starts shoot­ing a new Bond movie with di­rec­tor Sam Men­des in Novem­ber, and

The Girl With The Dragon Tat­too – the first in a se­ries based on the Stieg Lars­son nov­els – is set for an end-of-year re­lease.

Even Craig him­self ad­mits his rise to fame has been phe­nom­e­nal.

‘‘ I don’t re­ally think about car­ry­ing three fran­chises be­cause it’s kind of crazy,’’ the 43-year-old Brit says.

‘‘ Yes, it’s in­cred­i­ble but I also lived it. Day to day, my ca­reer has hap­pened how it’s hap­pened. It is ex­tra­or­di­nary but I try not to think about it too much.’’

It seems keep­ing his head down and mov­ing con­stantly for­ward has en­abled Craig to nav­i­gate the choppy wa­ters of show busi­ness.

‘‘ I don’t know what be­ing a movie star means,’’ he says.

‘‘ I go back to when I left drama school and all I wanted to do was a make a liv­ing out of

{ I learned that the most im­por­tant rules for a cow­boy are don’t fall off the horse and what­ever you do, don’t lose the hat }

act­ing and I’ve man­aged to do that. I never con­sid­ered an­other job.

‘‘ In fact, I promised my­self that if I had to do some­thing else, like take a waiting job, I’d give up. For­tu­nately for me that never hap­pened.’’

So does he ever feel the pres­sure of be­ing a star in de­mand?

‘‘ I’ve stopped be­ing wor­ried about be­ing de­sired a long time ago.’’ he says.

‘‘ I’ve been up for so many parts that have come down to two peo­ple and then they go for the guy with brown eyes. I don’t take it per­son­ally.

‘‘ You learn to deal with it very early on, or you don’t and you be­come bit­ter.

‘‘ I don’t care who else my agent rep­re­sents or what money they get. If you start wor­ry­ing or get jeal­ous of other peo­ple, you’re screwed.

‘‘ The grass is al­ways greener and there’s al­ways a nicer trailer or a nicer perk.’’

That’s not to say he doesn’t en­joy the op­por­tu­ni­ties he’s given now.

‘‘ Even as Bond you can still work with Har­ri­son Ford ( be­low) and get starstruck,’’ he ad­mits.

Be­cause of his packed sched­ule, Craig has barely had time to en­joy his newly mar­ried sta­tus and ad­mits he thought long and hard about tak­ing on more projects. ‘‘ Com­mit­ting to Tat­too was a ques­tion of lo­gis­tics and tim­ing and even though the sec­ond and third films are not guar­an­teed, I had to map out the next two or three years, which is weird for an ac­tor,’’ he says. ‘‘ I’ve never had to do that be­fore but in a way it’s nice. Now I know where my

free time is.

‘‘ And that means I can do sim­ple things like plan when and where I go on hol­i­day.’’

Just don’t, what­ever you do, ask him where he’s go­ing or who with.

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