• Guy Jeffries

*Star Profile: Harrison Ford*


Star Profile #6 is requested by fellow foodie and gutbuster Adil. This segment will cover actors, directors and even composers featuring TEN of the their most iconic roles or films and not necessarily their best but for what they are most recognised and remembered for. Maybe take an unresearched guess at what the films might be.

With 75 acting credits to his name, you would think it would be easy to find ten iconic Harrison Ford roles with films like Age of Adeline, What Lies Beneath, K-19: Widowmaker and The Devil's Own. We have Ender's Game, Cowboys & Aliens and Six Days Seven Nights as well as Air Force One, Frantic and Presumed Innocent, not the mention the smaller parts in Apocalypse Now and the latest Expendables replacing Bruce Willis. It's that distinctive voice, sarcastic tone and smug smirk that will never go unrecognised.

Dropping out of college to pursue his acting career he became an unsuccessful TV Actor in both Ironside and The Virginian which resulted him turning to carpentry. He did four years of carpentry before returning to the screen in '73 and being a master carpenter, he still enjoys the skill as a hobby, building his own house on a 800acre ranch in Jackson Home, Wyoming. Some of the land he's donated as a nature reserve resulting in him having a species of ant and spider named after him in honour of his conservational work, Peidole Harrisonfordi being the ant and Calponia Harrisonfordi being the spider. He was a roadie for The Doors in his younger years and he went to school with Hilary Clinton and being a close friend and golf buddy to Bill Clinton.

A real life pilot of both fixed winged planes and helicopters suffering a near fatal accident in 2015, when his plane got engine failure and had to ditch on a golf course in Venice, California resulting in him receiving a broken pelvis and ankle. He actually provided emergency helicopter rescue at the request of local authorities on several occasions. Imagine being a hiker in Wyoming, having a spake of dehydration only to be rescued by Harrison Ford. You'll think you're hallucinating.

Harrison's first return to the screen after four years of wood carvings, plays the small part of 55' Chevy driver, Bob Falfa in George Lucas' second main feature after THX. Starting along side Richard Dreyfuss and Ron Howard I find it both surprising and interesting that Ford and Howard haven't worked together since. Ford was actually requested to cut his hair for the film but refused stating he wasn't in the film long enough to matter and compromised by wearing a hat. Being quite the rebel, it was also reported that Ford, along with co-stars Paul Le Mat and Bo Hopkins got drunk on several occasions and challenged each other to who could climb the Holiday Inn sign. Ford was also arrested for fighting one night, getting kicked out of his motel during filming.

Mike Nichols 1988 Oscar nominated film had Harrison down as top billing but doesn't actually make an appearance in the film until 35mins in. It's was a very different film for Harrison being his first rom/com playing Jack Trainor opposite Melaine Griffiths and Sigourney Weaver. This film is a guilty pleasure of mine and have only picked because Ford, seems really out of place.

Reuniting with Mike Nichols in '91 for the emotional drama Regarding Henry about a lawyer who survived a shooting only to have lost his memory, speech and mobility skills. Harrison playing the title, being completely different from his usual, or anything he's done before. It was actually the first time J.J. Abrams and Ford's name crossed paths being this as Abrams second film written by him, after Taking Care of Business and actually cameos as a food delivery boy. Shooter, John Leguizamo actually received hate mail from Ford fans for being the character that shot him. Wonder what Adam Diver got!?

The favourite of his movies, becoming friends with River Phoenix and having great admiration for the up and coming star, it was this film that got Phoenix the part playing the young Ford in another movie, put forward by Ford himself. During filming in Belize, the crew came across an undiscovered Mayan temple in the jungle and has been marked as a great historical find. Even though this is Ford's personal favourite films, it suffered at the box office and according to critics it was due to his performance being too much and forced. However Ford believes it was because the film wasn't the right adaptation of the book of which it's based by Paul Theroux. Both Director, Peter Weir and Ford missed their Oscar nominations at the 1986 academy awards due to filming this and the film they were both nominated for was...

Witness, with Ford playing John Book, a policeman going into Amish country to protect the sole witness to a murder, young at-the-time actor Lukas Haas (Brick, Inception) and his widowed mother, Kelly McGillis better known for Top Gun a year later. This was considered Ford's first serious role away from science fantasy and he enjoyed using his carpentry skills during filming. There's an ironic scene when building a barn, McGillis character asks Book if he knows carpentry and Fords response is "a little..." Ford received his first and only Oscar nomination for best actor in this film.

Taking over from Alec Baldwin, he actually originally turned down the role of Jack Ryan for The Hunt For Red October feeling the script was more central on Sean Connery's Captain Ramius, but accepted for Patriot Games '92 and Clear and Present Danger '94 when Baldwin had to turn down due to scheduling conflicts. Author Tom Clancy actually disassociated himself from Patriot Games after reading the first draft of the script, not approving of the changes made. Ford reunites with Director Phillip Noyce for Clear and Present Danger doing his own stunt driving, He didn't return for Sum of All Fears giving the role to Ben Affleck, and Young Captain Kirk, Chris Pine plays the most recent Ryan in Shadow Recruit.

Teaming up with Under Siege director Andrew Davis in his remake of the TV series, to play the accused Dr. Richard Kimble who supposedly murdered his own wife (Sela Ward) however, it was possibly Tommy Lee Jones who stole the screen being hot on Kimble's heels and giving that iconic instruction to conduct a search winning him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. After watching Under Siege, Ford immediately signed up being impressed with Davis' most recent actioner. There is a lot of improvised scenes by both Ford and Jones, the interrogation scene in particular, where Ford had no idea of what questions were going to be asked. According to some reports, Ford survived the whole filming process until shooting the trailer at the end where he tears a knee ligament, however, other reports say it happened earlier on and Ford refused full treatment so to keep the limp for the rest of the film.

Blade Runner was Ford's most frustrating film due to the post-production and it seems both director Ridley Scott and Ford disagreed a lot, resulting in Ford refusing to talk about the film until he contributed to the 2007 DVD commentary; 25 years after its release. He was reported he purposefully did a bad voice over in the hopes it wouldn't be used, disliking the script, but he admits it was just bad acting. One of the issues around the script was about it hinting at Deckard being a replicant himself, not wanting to take away the human element of the character Ford was oppose to the idea and Scott agreed but the final cut still implies the possibility, not only upsetting Ford but Batty Rutger Hauer too. Still, it's a cult classic of sci-fi noire and is normally found among the top of many "best films ever" lists and resulted in Ford being a product spokesperson for Japanese electronics during the eighties.

As Ford calls him "The great rapscallion of the universe" he was also a rebel off camera usually fooling around with Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill, when the cameras weren't rolling, however, they behaved themselves when Sir Alec Guinness was on set. This bad behaviour continued into the rest of the trilogy, this time with Leia, Carrie Fisher; check them out when they land on Bespin in ESB, being all happy. This was because both of them were apparently still drunk from a party the night before. Most of the cast, including Lucas and Ford thought Star Wars would flop, which it didn't, Ford actually had half his shirt ripped off him in a record store by fans not long after the release. Ford was originally brought in to read lines opposite other actors doing screen tests as Han Solo; Lucas had so many ideas for Han Solo, being alien, then black and then white and had a long list of actors considered for the role, Pacino, Stallone, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Nick Nolte, Travolta Walken and Jack Nicholson among many more. He didn't want to star actors he had previously worked with thus meaning Ford was not even considered for the role having previously starred in Lucas' American Graffiti. After a few actors turned down Han Solo, Ford was the inevitable choice being so good at the screen tests. He never signed a contact yet appeared in all three films of the first filmed trilogy. Ford wasn't sure if he wanted to play Solo for the third time and requested Lucas to heroically kill off this character. Obviously Lucas refused but Ford refused to sign a contract unlike the rest of the cast. This is actually the reason and mythbuster to the false rumour of the "I know" line being ad-libbed in response to Princess Leia telling Han "I love you" before being frozen in carbonite. Ford and ESB director Irvin Kershner had previously discussed the line change without telling anyone else. *SPOILER* Ford's request to kill off Solo eventually comes true in the latest, The Force Awakens.

I'm picking Indiana Jones as the number one Ford Film because it's what he would want, being his favourite and the character he is most proud of. For those of you that might disagree and feel Solo should be number one, just remember, Solo is a character among many other leads where as Indiana Jones is the title lead role, also Indy is considered the second greatest screen hero by the American Film Institute behind To Kill a Mockingbird's Atticus Finch and with Han Solo coming fourteenth. It's the brain child of both Spielberg and Lucas while on holiday trying to get away from the expected flop of Star Wars. Spielberg wanting to make a 'James Bond' movie and Lucas wanting to make an adventure movie spawning Raiders of the Lost Ark, And yes, Indiana is in fact named after the dog, Lucas' dog in reality. Original was meant to be Tom Selleck when George Lucas protested about Ford, proclaiming he did not want every movie to be a 'Harrison Ford' movie. Tom Selleck fortunately backed out and Spielberg pushed for Ford again. He actually went real Indiana Jones during filming of the Temple of Doom and scared Spielberg and crew when he ran out across the rope bridge without warning. In fact, Ford did a lot of his own stunts for the trilogy apart from where he badly damaged his back during Temple of Doom. He outran the boulder ten times and Raiders actually includes one of his actual fumbles. There's the classic scene of Indy facing the flashy swordsman in the square, which was suppose to be a much longer drawn out fight with the use of his whip but because Ford was actually suffering from dysentery, he decided to just shoot the swordsman making the rest of film crew laugh and of course, audiences later on.

Spielberg actually pranked Ford whilst filming Temple of Doom by having Barbara Streisand turn up in a dominatrix outfit and have Ford whipped while chained to the stone only to have Carrie Fisher jump in the way, protecting Ford and giving him a kiss. He originally argued against the casting of Sean Connery as his father for the Last Crusade because of the actual difference in years only being 12 years but actually really enjoyed working with Connery in the end and both filmed the Zeppelin scene in just their pants due to the heat of the studio, and the Crusade was the film River Phoenix was put forward by Ford to play the young Indy. This has to be Ford's most iconic role, that never-losing hat, the whip and that jacket, one of the greatest movie adventures of all time.

So there you have it, Harrison Ford. But just to finish, he declined Schindler's List thinking his presence would overshadow the importance of the film. Declined Elliot Ness, Untouchables, and Jim Garrison in JFK both going to Kevin Costner. Proof of Life, Cape Fear, the Patriot, Perfect Storm, regrets trying down the part of Bob Barnes in Syriana which went to George Clooney. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and Tom Skerrit's Dallas in Alien. he was also considered for lead roles of Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park which went to Sam Neill, who, was ironically considered for Indy at one stage. Other films he turned down was Insomnia and Bob Hoskins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

With all this to his name it's not surprising he appears in so much pop culture. The band Souvenirs named a song after him and is mentioned in Barenaked Ladies' "One Week" but I've leave you with folk singer Christine Lavin's song. "Harrison Ford"

Next up: Johnny Depp and please suggest who you'll like to see featured. Who's your favourite actor or director? Drop a comment or tweet me here. Happy Watching!

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