Emily Watson did not appear to need much convincing to accept her role as a tough matriarch in the new film "War Horse," which depicts a connection between a boy and his horse that she compares to that of "star-crossed lovers."
"It's Steven Spielberg," she joked to OnTheRedCarpet.com about the movie's director, adding that she would play a "meek mouse" if he asked.
The 44-year-old actress (who is not to be confused with "Harry Potter" star Emma Watson) stars in the director's new film "War Horse" as the mother of a British boy named Albert, played by Jeremy Irvine, who bonds with a horse named Joey.
"You first see her all guns blazing because he's brought the wrong, bloody horse," Watson said about the film, which was released on December 25. "He's supposed to go off and buy a plough horse, which is going to save the farm. And he's bought a thoroughbred, because he's a drunk."
When her husband and his father sells Joey to a British military captain at the start of World War I in a desperate attempt to provide for his impoverished family, Albert sets off to try and get him back.
"I think it's such a potent combination of an animal, an innocent animal and a savage, savage war," Watson said. "A savage and pointless war and putting this animal into the middle of it. And an animal we've learned to love, because we've learned to love him through the eyes of a boy. They're like star-crossed lovers in a way, and we desperately want them to be together."
Irvine, 21, told OnTheRedCarpet.com he thinks his character and Joey are more like siblings.
"I think when this horse comes into his life, it fills the place of a brother," he said. "The stakes need to be that high for him to then go off to the first World War to try and get him back. So I imagined when he's being taken away from me, I kind of imagined what it would be like to have one of my younger brothers being taken away like that."
Watson, a British actress, has in the past starred in movies such as "Hilary and Jackie," "Punch-Drunk Love" and "Red Dragon." Irvine, however, began his on-screen career in 2009, when he appeared on the Disney Channel series "Life Bites." "War Horse" marks the first film role for the actor, who is also from England.
Irvine told OnTheRedCarpet.com he had never ridden a horse before he filmed "War Horse" and spent two months learning how to work with the animals on screen. He said the bonds he forged with them were real.
"I didn't think I'd actually in real life have that sort of connection," he said. "It's difficult not to be. There's something so human about a horse and the way that this is an animal that is mentally powerful. It could kill you, if it wanted to, yet it lets you get on its back and ride it. I find that fascinating."
"I really did have those connection to the horses," he added. "I'm doing a film now - I'm working with some of those same horses. You still feel like you know them."
Irvine recently completed shooting the movie "Now Is Good," which stars Dakota Fanning as a girl who aims to lose her virginity before she succumbs to her cancer. He is currently filming a big screen adaptation of "Great Expectations" and plays lead character Pip. The movie also stars "Harry Potter" actors Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter and Robbie Coltrane. Both films are set to be released in 2012.
"War Horse" is nominated for two Golden Globe awards, including a nod for Best Motion Picture - Drama.
Reporting by George Pennacchio of KABC Television, which produces the entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings).