How We Met: Marc Warren & Rankin

Marc Warren, 44

An actor, Warren who has starred in TV series including 'Hustle' and Doctor Who. He also has a number of film credits to his name, including 'Wanted' and 'Green Street'. He lives in London

It was nearly 10 years ago that I was thinking maybe it was time to calm down a bit and settle down. Then I met Rankin. I got a call from his office saying he was doing his first short [autobiographical] film and he wanted someone to play him, so we met at a bar in Soho.

As soon as I saw him I thought, "Jesus, settling down is obviously going to have to wait." He sparks a real energy in me, and I think I do that to him as well. We drank a lot of wine, then I went off for a meeting with the director David Yates, who was casting for [the TV mini-series] State of Play. By the time I got there I wasn't in a great state. That night Rankin called me up and said, "Come over to my flat." We got so drunk we ended up throwing some of his chairs into the canal his flat overlooked. That connection we formed is not something I get very often; some people just light you up.

I remember the first time I saw him taking pictures. It's extraordinary to see how he draws performances out of people. I've worked with the American photographer David LaChappelle and he's a complete egomaniac, but Rankin makes you feel comfortable. I've got a photo he took of me and it's great; he makes reality look more beautiful.

My first trip to LA was with Rankin. He was going to do a shoot and he asked me if I wanted to join him. We drove along the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible Mustang and stayed in a rock'n'roll hotel, for which he ended up paying most of the bill. It was a lot of fun, and after that both our careers took off.

He always seems to be shooting naked women. I accompanied him once on this shoot with the Thrills. He was taking pictures of the band and then he was like, "Can we get a naked woman to lie on the ground next to them?" The next thing you know, there's one lying there.

I've always found him easy to be with, but it's different if you work for him. He gives a lot of young people fantastic opportunities, but he's a hard taskmaster. It's not a problem I've ever had, though. I'm going to see him this afternoon and I can already feel the anticipation building.

Rankin, 45

Rankin is a portrait and fashion photographer who co-founded 'Dazed & Confused' magazine. His subjects have included Madonna, Kate Moss and the Queen. He lives in London with his wife

When we connect, we bring the mad side out of each other. It's fun, but we can be quite nutty together. I was directing my first short film, Promise, and was looking for someone who could play me, and he was one of the actors who stood out. He had a sinister yet really charming screen presence and I thought he'd bring something to the role.

On the set we constantly competed with each other... we played this game to see who was the best kisser. We'd get the girls on set to close their eyes and kiss them on the lips, then we'd get marked out of 10. He thinks he won, I think I did.

Marc loves women more than any man I've ever met. There were lots of times that he used my flat or my situation to pull; now all the girls in the office are wary of him as he's such a lothario. Yet as a friend, he's one of the most decent, honourable and reliable men I've met.

He's very private when it comes to talking about relationships, though. And there's this whole other side to him I found when we went to LA together. We were sitting on an empty beach off the Pacific Coast Highway, listening to music from [the film] Vanilla Sky. He didn't talk, just sat there; he's a spiritual person.

He can be quite cheeky, too. We'd arranged to go for dinner one night and he called and said, "I'm on the red carpet, I'm going to see a movie with Damian Lewis." He'd ditched me, but he did it in such a charming way I forgave him.

On screen, he doesn't do a lot, but he doesn't need to. Shooting my second film with him, there was a really complicated line, and he said, "You know, I can do that with my eyes." I'll never forget it. But he underrates himself; I once told him, "You could be one of the biggest character actors in world – like a Gary Oldman," and he looked at me like I was crazy.

We've known each other for 10 years and he's seen me do things I wouldn't do now. Around the time we made my first film I thought my shit didn't stink; I believed the hype and would get into stupid little fights with people. But Marc helped me realise I had to change; he stopped being nuts before I did and helped me shift my way of working towards a more collaborative style.

Marc Warren stars in 'Cool Hand Luke' at the Aldwych Theatre, London WC2 ( coolhandluke.co.uk), from 23 September

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