Ford, Harrison

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FORD, Harrison

Nationality: American. Born: Chicago, Illinois, 13 July 1942. Education: Attended Ripon College, Wisconsin. Family: Married 1) Mary (Ford), sons: Willard, Benjamin; 2) the screenwriter Melissa Mathison, 1983, son: Malcolm. Career: Actor in summer stock, Wisconsin, and in Laguna Beach Playhouse, 1963; 1964—signed contract with Columbia; 1966—film debut in Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round; fired by Columbia; late 1960s—signed contract with Universal; 1970s—worked as carpenter between roles; 1977—role in Star Wars brought international fame. Address: c/o Pat McQueeney, McQueeney Management, 146 North Almont Drive, Suite 8, Los Angeles, CA 90048, U.S.A.

Films as Actor:


Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round (Girard) (as bellboy)


A Time for Killing (The Long Ride Home) (Karlson) (as Lt. Shaffer); Luv (Clive Donner)


Journey to Shiloh (Hale) (as Willie Bill Beardon)


Getting Straight (Rush) (as Jake); Zabriskie Point (Antonioni) (role edited out of final version); The Intruders (Graham—for TV) (as Carl)


American Graffiti (Lucas) (as Bob Falfa)


The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola) (as Martin Stett)


Dynasty (Philips—for TV) (as Mark Blackwood)


The Possessed (Thorpe—for TV) (as Paul Winjam); Star Wars (Lucas) (as Han Solo); Heroes (Kagan) (as Kenny Boyd)


Force 10 from Navarone (Hamilton) (as Lt. Col. Mike Barnsby)


Hanover Street (Hyams) (as David Halloran); The Frisco Kid (Aldrich) (as Tommy Lillard); Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola) (as Colonel); More American Graffiti (Norton) (as motocycle cop, unbilled cameo)


The Empire Strikes Back (Kershner) (as Han Solo)


Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg) (as Indiana Jones)


Blade Runner (Ridley Scott) (as Rick Deckard)


Return of the Jedi (Marquand) (as Han Solo)


Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Spielberg) (title role)


Witness (Weir) (as John Book)


The Mosquito Coast (Weir) (as Allie Fox)


Frantic (Polanski) (as Dr. Richard Walker); Working Girl (Mike Nichols) (as Jack Trainer)


Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Spielberg) (title role)


Presumed Innocent (Pakula) (as Rusty Sabich)


Regarding Henry (Mike Nichols) (as Henry Turner)


Patriot Games (Noyce) (as Jack Ryan); L'Envers du Decor: Portrait de Pierre Guffroy (Behind the Scenes: A Portrait of Pierre Guffroy) (Salis—doc)


The Fugitive (Andrew Davis) (as Dr. Richard Kimble); Earth and the American Dream (Couturie—doc) (as voice)


Clear and Present Danger (Noyce) (as Jack Ryan); Jimmy Hollywood (Levinson) (as himself); Mustang: The Hidden Kingdom (Tony Miller—doc) (as narrator)


Les Cent et une nuits (A Hundred and One Nights) (Varda) (as Actor for a Day); Sabrina (Pollack) (as Linus Larrabee)


The Devil's Own (Pakula) (as Tom O'Meara)


Air Force One (Petersen) (as President James Marshall)


Six Days Seven Nights (Reitman) (as Quinn Harris)


From Star Wars to Star Wars: The Story of Industrial Light and Magic (Kroll) (as himself); Random Hearts (Pollack) (as Dutch Van Den Broeck)


What Lies Beneath (Zemeckis) (as Dr. Norman Spencer)


By FORD: articles—

Interview with R. Appelbaum, in Films (London), September 1981.

Interview with P. H. Broeske, in Cinema Papers (Melbourne), May 1985.

"An Innocent Man," interview with Dan Yakir, in Empire (London), October 1990.

"Off Camera," interview with Lawrence Grobel, in Playboy (Chicago), September 1993.

"Harrison Ford," interview with R. Pede, in Film en Televisie + Video (Brussels), no. 446, November 1994.

"Still Sane After All These Years," interview with V. Campbell, in Movieline (Escondido), December 1995.

"Facing His Biggest Risk of All, Romantic Comedy," interview with Trip Gabriel, in New York Times, 10 December 1995.

"I Make an Outrageous Amount of Money. No One Is Worth This Much," interview in Radio Times (London), 20 January 1996.

"Off the Beaten Path," interview with L. Grobel, in Movieline (Escondido), July 1997.

On FORD: books—

Clinch, Minty, Harrison Ford: A Biography, London, 1984.

McKenzie, Alan, The Harrison Ford Story, New York, 1984.

Honeyford, Paul, Harrison Ford: A Biography, London, 1986.

Jelot-Blanc, Jean Jacques, Harrison Ford, Paris, 1987.

Sellers, Robert, Harrison Ford: A Biography, London, 1993.

Pfeiffer, Lee, The Films of Harrison Ford, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1995.

Jenkins, Garry, Harrison Ford: Imperfect Hero, Somerville, 1999.

On FORD: articles—

Crawley, T., "Wars Star: How Harrison Ford Flew Solo and Won His Wings," in Films Illustrated (London), April 1978.

Rickey, Carrie, and Artie West, "The Return of the Wasp Hero," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), November 1981.

Current Biography 1984, New York, 1984.

Hibbin, S., "Harrison Ford," in Films and Filming (London), January 1984.

Clarke, Gerald, "Stardom Time for a Bag of Bones," in Time (New York), 25 February 1985.

Martin, Guy, "The American Leading Man Is Strong, Sexy and Stranger than Ever: Harrison Ford and the Jungle of Gloom," in Esquire (New York), October 1986.

Hunter, Allan, "Harrison Ford," in Films and Filming (London), February 1987.

Hoban, Phoebe, "Court and Spark," in Premiere (New York), August 1990.

Halberstam, David, "The Fugitive Star," in Vanity Fair (New York), July 1993.

Hearty, Kitty Bowe, "Born to Run," in Premiere (New York), September 1993.

Halberstam, David, "The Code of Harrison Ford," in Reader's Digest (Canadian), December 1993; see also issue of October 1993.

Lee, C., "Star Style," in Movieline (Escondido), September 1994.

Landrot, Marine, "Mieux vaut tardp" in Télérama (Paris), 22 February 1995.

Stivers, C., "Scions of the Times," in Premiere (Boulder), November 1995.

Norman, Barry, "Why Ford Sticks to What He Does Best," in Radio Times (London), 12 April 1997.

* * *

Shying away from the Hollywood limelight has not hurt maverick superstar Harrison Ford's career one iota. For a man who once cut back on making the acting rounds to concentrate on his carpentry sideline, the ever-practical Ford is now one of filmdom's bona fide bankable stars. The same pragmatic bent that encouraged Ford to maintain a backup career informs his work as an actor. Reliable and forthright, Ford is a man's man determined to do a good job and not about to suffer fools or slackers gladly. If a certain solemnity mars his dramatic work, he is a freewheeling force of nature in his rugged adventures and a champagne-class laugh-getter in his comedies.

After uncertain beginnings, Ford hit his stride with the megahit, Star Wars as his wise-guy persona blasted into space. Han Solo is a reluctant hero, but, once coerced or tricked into a galactic war, he out-battles the most accustomed saviors in orbit. Armed with a sarcastic wit, as well as space blasters or a bullwhip, Ford's leading men zip beyond the legacy of Flynn and Power as this modern star ridicules the feats of derring-do expected of him, particularly as repackaged by Lucas and Spielberg to the nth power. Nudging his fans in the ribs, Ford seems to be saying, "How am I getting away with this?," but a task's daunting impossibility never actually stops him from accomplishing it. If Ford's Han Solo and Indiana Jones have a true progenitor, it is not so much the macho myth-makers of yesteryear but Burt Lancaster's tongue-in-cheek daredevil in The Crimson Pirate. Taking into account the crushing weight of all the megabudgeted special effects in his movies, Ford's light touch prevents the Lucas and Spielberg oeuvre from collapsing into tiresome, revisionist aging boys' adventures. With jocular Ford at the center of these expensive diversions, the audience cares about how each of the cliffhangers laced through the films will turn out; he is indispensable to their success.

Forever kidding the image of the resolute American redemptor in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies, Ford also expanded his dramatic range. In the thought-provoking futuristic noir, Blade Runner, he brings gravity to the part of an android-hunting Philip Marlowe type in a movie dismissed in its time, but now esteemed as a classic melding of the detective and sci-fi genres. Winning an Oscar nomination as the big city cop in awe of the Amish people he choose to protect (Witness), Ford followed this breakthrough performance with the flawed The Mosquito Coast, an acting challenge about an antisocial man who subjects his family to his own ramshackle Shangri-La in the jungles of Central America; unfortunately the boxoffice disappointment of this ambitious film may have caused Ford to retrench artistically. Increasingly, since Frantic, Ford has been more and more dramatically clenched in his performances in serious fare. Particularly in Presumed Innocent, his face is a mask of pain underlined by one expression of resigned perplexity. At least in the Jack Ryan espionage thrillers and in that update of Les Misérables, The Fugitive, Ford's histrionic liabilities are camouflaged by a plethora of stunt-men heroics and unceasing physical action. Ford is much better when humor is part of the equation, and he can triumph wittily over his own wavering, save-your-own-skin philosophy. In prestige dramas, he deliberately holds back as if some refrigerator light in his soul had been turned off.

In comedies, Ford's humanity shines through unabashed, and he is never as sexy in his he-man gambols as he is in effervescent romances. If he could bring just a bit of this casualness to his serious endeavors, he might blast through his rigidity and emerge as the actor he left behind on The Mosquito Coast. His ruffled dignity makes him a perfect foil in comedies, and he carries on the bloodline of an elegant tradition by doing his own modification of Gary Cooper in Working Girl. Despite the gaffe of remaking a Billy Wilder classic, Ford mined comic nuances untouched by Humphrey Bogart, the one weak link in the original Sabrina. If this updated souffle refused to rise, Ford soared with the box office returns of Air Force One, which left audiences cheering for Ford's granite-faced president, not afraid to get his designer suit dirty in the battle to save his family and his official plane. Clearly, however, he was just marking time with a onedimensional role as a proselytizer of patriotism in an A-budget film with a B-movie mentality.

In the underrated comedy, 6 Days, 7 Nights, Ford had a blast as a variant of the scruffy, half-tanked rascals played by Cary Grant in Father Goose and Bogart in The African Queen. Teamed affably with Anne Heche, he proved again that he's no slouch at both physical comedy and romantic badinage.

If fans basked in his oddball chemistry in that film, they must have been mystified by a lack of it in the somber passion play, Random Hearts. It ranks as the most frigid boy-meets-girl saga since Havana (also directed by Sydney Pollack, who needs a vacation from inflated epic love stories). As imposing as ever, Ford fearlessly tore into the role of a man bent on exploring his late wife's infidelity. Unfortunately, this grim exhumation of a marriage overshadowed the story's main attraction: the hero's affair with the widow of the man who'd been his wife's inamorata. Instead of two lost souls hungering for solace from grief and anger, Ford and Kristin Scott-Thomas nibbled at each other with a politeness fatal to the story's gimmicky concept.

Clearly, Ford needs to take a cue from Bruce Willis and challenge himself in occasional offbeat productions, particularly if his commercial choices are going to be soulless properties (e.g., The Devil's Own) designed to open big. Although he's the supplest comedian among today's mega-stars, no one expects Ford to bury himself in the lightweight comedies at which he excels. Where can he find the role to give his fans an action high, while allowing him to expand his maturing sensitivity? Perhaps, it's time to dust off Indiana Jones, a character that plays to all his strengths, instead of compartmentalizing his persona into the separate entities of the humorous Ford and the dour Ford.

—Robert Pardi