June 25, 2002 11:00 AM

Testosterone levels must have reached a new high on the Russian location of the upcoming “K-19: The Widowmaker,” which pairs — for the first time — macho men Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. The two stars of the film, which is based on a true story about a Soviet submarine’s test missile launch during the Cold War, spoke at a press event in Manhattan late last week, reports PEOPLE. Asked how it was in the former Communist empire, Neeson, 50, said, “I found it strange. We were staying at this unbelievably expensive hotel in the middle of a food shortage in Russia, and Coca-Cola cost like 15 dollars. It was ridiculous!” He also found the country a bit scary. “There were always men in the lobby with guns, and it seems like everyone were on mobile phones cruising at night,” he describes. “Maybe it was just my imagination, but I just got the sense the entire place was being controlled by the Mafia. . . . When I wasn’t working, I just stayed in the hotel.” Ford, 60, called shooting over there “a very emotional experience. It was interesting meeting the crew of the original submarine. They had a lot of emotions vested in this film, and they were very concerned about what we were doing and how we might do it. Other than that, I really didn’t have that much time for myself. I was working all the time.” Other than not warming up to Russia, Ford and Neeson also have two other things in common: They both worked in the “Star Wars” series, and they share acting philosophies. “He’s an economist, and I’m an economist, too,” says Neeson. “I try to go for minimum work and get maximum effect.” So how was it working with each other? “We just sensed each other’s rhythm and danced accordingly,” explained Neeson. “We didn’t really analyze stuff.” The film is set to open on July 19.

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