Interestingly, the Hollywood superstar's glory would have never been fulfilled if he had listended to persuasions to become a carpenter in his early life. Born July 13, 1942, in Chicago and raised in a middle-class suburb, he had an average childhood. An introverted loner, he was popular with girls but picked on by school bullies. Ford quietly endured their everyday tortures until he one day lost his cool and beat the tar out of the gang leader responsible for his being repeatedly thrown off an embankment. He had no special affinity for films and usually only went to see them on dates because they were inexpensive and dark. Following high school graduation, Ford studied English and Philosophy at Ripon College in Wisconsin. An admittedly lousy student, he began acting while in college and then worked briefly in summer stock. He was expelled from the school three days before graduation because he did not complete his required thesis. In the mid-'60s, Ford and his first wife (his college sweetheart) moved to Hollywood, where he signed as a contract player with Columbia and, later, Universal. After debuting onscreen in a bit as a bellboy in Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round (1966), he played secondary roles, typically a cowboy, in several films of the late '60s and in such TV series as Gunsmoke, The Virginian, and Ironside. Discouraged with both the roles he was getting and his difficulty in providing for his young family, he abandoned acting and taught himself carpentry via books borrowed from the local library. Using his recently purchased run-down Hollywood home for practice, Ford proved himself a talented woodworker, and, after successfully completing his first contract to build an out-building for Sergio Mendez, found himself in demand with other Hollywood residents (it was also during this time that Ford acquired his famous scar, the result of a minor car accident).
Meanwhile, Ford's luck as an actor began to change when a casting director friend for whom he was doing some construction helped him get a part in George Lucas' American Graffiti (1973). The film became an unexpected blockbuster and greatly increased Ford's familiarity. Many audience members, particularly women, responded to his turn as the gruffly macho Bob Falfa, the kind of subtly charismatic portrayal that would later become Ford's trademark.
However, Ford's career remained stagnant until Lucas cast him as space pilot Han Solo in the megahit Star Wars (1977), after which he became a minor star. He spent the remainder of the 1970s trapped in mostly forgettable films (such as the comedy Western The Frisco Kid with Gene Wilder), although he did manage to land the small role of Colonel G. Lucas in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979).
The early '80s elevated Ford to major stardom with the combined impact of The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and his portrayal of action-adventure hero Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), which proved to be an enormous hit. He went on to play "Indy" twice more, in 1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989. Ford moved beyond popular acclaim with his role as a big-city police detective who finds himself masquerading as an Amish farmer to protect a young murder witness in Witness (1984), for which he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his work, as well as the praise of critics who had previously ignored his acting ability.
Having appeared in several of the biggest money-makers of all time, Ford was able to pick and choose his roles in the '80s and '90s. Following the success of Witness, Ford re-teamed with the film's director, Peter Weir, to make a film adaptation of Paul Theroux's novel The Mosquito Coast. The film met with mixed critical results, and audiences largely stayed away, unused to the idea of their hero playing a markedly flawed and somewhat insane character. Undeterred, Ford went on to choose projects that brought him further departure from the action films responsible for his reputation. In 1988 he worked with two of the industry's most celebrated directors, Roman Polanski and Mike Nichols. With Polanski he made Frantic, a dark psychological thriller that fared poorly among critics and audiences alike. He had greater success with Nichols, his director in Working Girl, a saucy comedy in which he co-starred with Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver. The film was a hit, and displayed Ford's largely unexploited comic talent.
Ford began the 1990s with Alan J. Pakula's courtroom thriller Presumed Innocent, which he followed with another Mike Nichols outing, Regarding Henry (1991). The film was an unmitigated flop with both critics and audiences, but Ford allayed his disappointment the following year when he signed an unprecedented 50-million-dollar contract to play CIA agent Jack Ryan in a series of five movies based upon the novels of Tom Clancy. The first two films of the series, Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994), met with an overwhelming success mirrored by that of Ford's turn as Dr. Richard Kimball in The Fugitive (1993). Ford's next effort, Sydney Pollack's 1995 remake of Sabrina, did not meet similar success, and this bad luck continued with The Devil's Own (which reunited him with Pakula), despite Ford's seemingly fault-proof pairing with Brad Pitt. However, his other 1997 effort, Wolfgang Petersen's Air Force One, more than made up for the critical and commercial shortcomings of his previous two films, proving that Ford, even at 55, was still a bona fide, butt-kicking action hero. Stranded on an island with Anne Hesche for his next feature, the moderately successful romantic adventure Six DaysSeven Nights (1998), Ford subsequently appeared in the less successful romantic drama Random Hearts. Bouncing back a bit with Robert Zemeckis' horror-flavored thriller What Lies Beneath, the tension would remain at a fever pitch as Ford and crew raced to prevent a nuclear catastrophe in the fact based deep sea thriller K-19: The Widowmaker.
Ford, who does not like doing interviews and has maintained a strict privacy regarding his personal life, made a home with his second wife, screenwriter Melissa Mathison, whose credits include E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), until their separation. Prior to that, they lived quietly with their two children, Malcolm and Georgia (Ford's other children, two sons from his first marriage, are grown and have chosen careers outside of show business), in New York City and on an 800-acre ranch near Jackson Hole, WY; Ford had clauses inserted in his movie contracts which permitted him to bring his family with him for location shootings.
Harrison Ford success story
What effect did "Star Wars" have on your life?
It transformed things, just when I was least expecting a change. I was 34 and thinking if I could make a full-time career as an actor, then I would be happy. I had done just seven films in 10 years.
How have you changed in the last 25 years?
I was struggling financially when I was raising my first family. I was a different man and anxious about the future. The circumstances of my life are now very different and success has made me more relaxed - to a point. I was also very pleased to have the opportunity of raising a second family and trying to get it right.
What is your greatest regret?
The failure of my first marriage and the pain that it caused. But all of us feel that we made mistakes in our youth that we prefer not to admit, and I am no different.
Looking at your bed scene in "What Lies Beneath", you look very fit?
I work out four times a week. I need it for my health. I do a little bit of weight training and the usual push-ups and sit-ups, plus playing tennis. I am not disciplined, but I feel better as a result. You get kind of creaky at 58.
Harrison Ford: K-19: The Widowmaker
As preparation for this film, you travelled to Russia to meet some of the survivors of the real K-19 tragedy. What influence did that have?
One of the interesting things was that a submarine is by its nature compartmentalized. And so the torpedo men had a different story to the reactor officers, and then other members of the crew who worked in other departments had different stories. And because these guys hadn't met since shortly after the event, they hadn't really had the opportunity to talk with each other about it. These events were declared a matter of military secrecy and these guys were broken up and sent to different commands. So they didn't have a chance to hear each other's stories until 30-40 years later. It was interesting because at many points their stories didn't really match up. So it was difficult to find the story, but I think we got it as close as you can.
What was the most important thing you learned about life on a submarine?
I think it was important to understand how the environment affects the behaviour of the men who are living in it.
This film is unusual in that it's a Hollywood movie but it's about a Russian story with Russian characters and from their point of view...
It was a unique opportunity and a unique effort. To tell the story of another culture from that culture's point of view... well, I don't know of another American film that's attempted to do that without an American character running through it or an American editorial point of view.
Why did you all do Russian accents rather than just use your own accents?
I grew up thinking all Nazis spoke with English accents because all the actors who played them in movies were British actors! Look, Liam Neeson is Irish, we had other British actors, we had Russian actors. I wanted the audience to be aware that this was a Russian story and to keep them hooked into that during the movie.
Hollywood to recreate battle of Fallujah with Harrison Ford
Hollywood plans to recreate the bloody battle for the Iraqi city of Fallujah in a movie that could star screen tough-guy Harrison Ford, studios executives said.
A Universal Studios partner has bought the film rights to a book about the November battle between US forces and Iraqi insurgents called "No True Glory: The Battle for Fallujah," a studio executive told AFP.
"The book was optioned by Double Features, a production company that has a deal with Universal," said the executive adding that the studio was in talks with "Raiders of the Lost Ark" star Ford to star in the film.
The book, written journalist by Bing West, an ex-US Marine and former assistant US secretary of defence for international security affairs, will be published in the United States by Bantam in May.
"No True Glory" is expected to use the Fallujah assault as a way to explore the dangerous intersection between war and politics, depicting the drama from the viewpoints of soldiers, military leaders and politicians.
Studio executives could not say when production on the film version of the book would begin.
Crowe's ad it with Ford
POMPOUS Russell Crowe has launched an astonishing attack on stars who appear in TV ads.
The Gladiator hunk accused screen legends, including Robert De Niro, 61, and Harrison Ford, 62, of cashing in on their fame.
Crowe said: "I don't do ads for suits in Spain like George Clooney or cigarettes in Japan like Harrison.
"It's kind of sacrilegious, a contradiction of the contract with your audience."
The actor, 40, who once had a fit when the BBC failed to show his poetry, added: "De Niro advertising American Express. Gee whizz."
Harrison Ford Talks About "Hollywood Homicide"
Director Ron Shelton and retired LA police officer Ron Souza bring crime on the streets of Hollywood to the big screen - in a comedic way - in the buddy cop movie, "Hollywood Homicide." Starring Harrison Ford as veteran detective, Joe Gavilan, and heartthrob Josh Hartnett as his young partner, K.C. Calden, "Hollywood Homicide" follows the partners as they track down the killer(s) responsible for murdering a rap group.
Harrison Ford and girlfriend Calista Flockhart worked the red carpet at the Los Angeles Premiere of "Hollywood Homicide." Ford's enthusiasm for the film was apparent even through his short, snappy answers.
HARRISON FORD ('Joe Gavilan')
Why do you think Hollywood was selected as the setting for this film?
Hollywood is a good [setting]. It's just the environment. Hollywood's got its own particular environment.
Did you do your own stunts?
I did my own running, jumping and falling down.
Did you do any research for this character?
I sort of had friends in the LAPD and we talked about it.
How is this movie different from other buddy cop movies we've seen in the past?
This one's funnier.
Did you have fun doing it?
You're character's a cop who sells real estate on the side. If the acting thing doesn't work out, are you thinking about a career in real estate?
I don't think so, that's a tough job.
How was teaming up with Josh Hartnett?
It was fun, great.
Was it tough to develop the buddy chemistry between the two of you?
I don't think so. It's all there on screen.
And about the infamous car accident, did Josh really cause it?
No, it was all my fault (smiling). It was all my fault.
Harrison Ford: What Lies Beneath
He's a man of many guises: sexiest man alive, moving dramatic actor, ultimate action hero, and the greatest pilot to helm the Millennium Falcon. Harrison Ford embodies characters that resonate with audiences, from his action-packed portrayals of the swashbuckling Indiana Jones, the replicant-fighting Deckard, and CIA agent Jack Ryan to his quieter roles in Regarding Henry, Witness, and Sabrina, among many others. With each film, Ford reinvents himself, creating starkly distinctive yet believable characters. His latest film, What Lies Beneath, is no different. In it, he stars, opposite Michelle Pfeiffer, as the perfect husband whose single stray moment comes back to--literally--haunt the couple. Amazon.com's Jenny Brown spoke by phone with Harrison Ford about working in this new genre.
Amazon.com: What Lies Beneath is an incredibly tense film. What made you decide to do a horror film?
Harrison Ford: Oh, it's not a horror film. I think it's rather different than a horror film. It's a suspense film. It's a thriller. It's a scary movie. But at least for me, a horror film is a slightly different thing.
I was led to do it by the quality of the script and by the people involved--Bob Zemeckis and Michelle Pfeiffer. I thought we had a really good script; it was an intriguing character for me to play. And I thought it would make spectacular, tense entertainment.
Amazon.com: Your character in this movie is a morally ambiguous one. What was that like? A lot of the characters that you've played in the past tend to be more gung ho good guys.
Ford: Well, you know, I've played a variety of different characters; some of them have not been so gung ho and good. Some of them have flaws and failures. But this is a character that interested me more for the fact of its relationship to the story overall, and the utility that it had in the context of the story than in anything else. It's not a character I would have picked out had the story itself been weak, had the overall fabric not supported the character.
Amazon.com: Was this a difficult shoot? There were so many original camera angles and, of course, all that water.
Ford: Oh, it was a fun movie to make. Totally fun. Bob's great, has great energy to bring to the job. Michelle was a lot of fun to work with, very easy for me.
Amazon.com: So I have to ask this: do you believe in ghosts?
Ford: No. Unfortunately I have to answer it that way, I don't.
Amazon.com: You mentioned that all your roles have been quite different from one another. What is more challenging for you? Something like this? Or something more dramatic, as in Witness? Or a huge action-adventure Indiana Jones-type thing?
Ford: You know, each kind of role, each kind of film has a different set of challenges. But finally it all comes down to the same thing: trying to do the best job you can and communicating the information that's necessary to progress a story, and giving the character a kind of reality and emotional life that other people can relate to.
Amazon.com: Ridley Scott has come out and said that your character in Blade Runner, Deckard, is indeed a replicant. Did you know this during filming?
Ford: I argued against it. It was a question of some discussion and I argued against it. My point to Ridley was that the audience deserved, even required, to have someone onscreen that they felt they could emotionally invest in. So I argued against making Deckard a replicant. And continuously did so. So if in Ridley's mind he is a replicant, so be it. It's a director's medium. I didn't play him that way.
Amazon.com: Which of your past films is your favorite?
Ford: I don't have a favorite. It's like asking which of your children is your favorite child. Each of them are born under different signs and the memories of each of them is complex.
Amazon.com: I think the only genre you haven't done is musical.
Ford: Maybe that's because I can't sing.
Harrison Ford: "Hollywood Homicide"
Harrison Ford has reason to be all smiles these days: New movie, new love, his star on Hollywood Boulevard. Then why ISN'T he smiling? Where is that lighter-on-his-feet Harrison that we were told was prevalent? As quiet and solemn as ever while promoting his Hollywood Homicide comedy, the 60-year old superstar still refuses to give the press anything away. Neatly attired in a blue suit, Ford's tired demeanour may have to do with the hours of interviews and photo shoots, or perhaps he really does hate this process. If he does, he's not admitting it. "I think it's an obvious opportunity to bring attention to the release of the film. I don't think it's all that difficult and all," he says, quietly. It's when the press tries to get the actor to talk about his private life that the actor's quiet tone changes to one of obvious annoyance, especially since his relationship with Calista Flockhart has made many a magazine cover. "I think journalism has change a bit and the paparazzi journalism has become the norm now," Ford says when asked about the reaction to the media's obsession with the actor's private life. "People follow you around and take pictures of me and they are in all the magazines the next week, along with untested, untrue information. Our laws don't allow you to seek compensation for the injury caused by it, because you have to prove that there is intent to harm." He blames much of this new media frenzy on the Internet "Which contains no test of truth to the things that people write anymore." Ford says that the public's ongoing fascination is "that they don't have much effect over their own lives and so are fascinated by those people that they somehow suspect do."
Asked how the media intrusion affects his and Flockhart's relationship, Ford pauses. "Well, you know it doesn't affect my RELATIONSHIP. We're both grown ups and understand where the truth is. It's just a nuisance and an annoyance."
Sullen he may be off screen when talking to the press, but his sense of humour is far more prevalent in front of the cameras, starring opposite Josh Hartnett in Hollywood Homicide, which revolves around two LAPD homicide detectives who moonlight in other fields: Joe Gavilan (Ford), a real estate agent and K.C. Calden (Hartnett), a yoga instructor and wannabe actor. They investigate the slaying of a rap group on stage that is possibly orchestrated by Sartain (Isaiah Washington), a notorious rap label boss who is rumored to have arranged the death of rap artists in the past who wanted to get out of their contracts, and whose head of security is himself a former LAPD officer. But the murder investigation is secondary to the film's comedic overtones, and for Ford, the film [unscripted when it initially came to him] gave him the chance to return to comedy. "I always try to do different kinds of films and after K-19 it seemed like a good idea to do a comedy or something a little lighter." The actor adds that this particular comedy afforded the actor a chance to "play a character that has a lot of pressures on him and it seemed a mix of the relationship with Josh would be good chemistry. As there wasn't a finished script when I agreed to be part of this, I recognized something that would gives us a lot of comic opportunity and would have a unique aspect to it. It would be a way of bringing some new life to the comedy genre type film and as I say I thought it was a good time for me to do a comedy, so it looked like a good fit."
The film's music, primarily hip-hop, seemed an interesting contrasting to Ford's old-fashioned Hollywood persona. He admits to not being a fan of the music at all, but has grown to like the diverse likes of Eminem, Blackalicious and Black-Eyed Peas. An Eminem concert seems the last place to find Ford, but says he likes the rapper's "originality, his particular point of view and his own craft of storytelling." Perhaps his new-found love of rap music is a way of allowing him to remain connected to a young audience, but if that's so, he scoffs at the suggestion. It's pure coincidence that his latest film pairs him opposite one of Hollywood's hottest young stars, whom he merely describes as "a very capable actor. He's had some great opportunities at a very young age, so he's got a bit more experience than someone might anticipate than a twenty three year old kid would have." Hartnett himself said that Ford derived pleasure from "f*cking with my head." In a rare light moment from the veteran Ford, he says "that was so easy to do."
Ford denies any parallels between his and Hartnett's careers. "It certainly does NOT parallel mine, as I didn't make a living in this business until I was about thirty-five years old." Even on American Graffiti, the film that essentially began it all for the rising star at the time, "I was the oldest guy on the set other than the honey wagon driver, and I was playing a teenager. But I came out here at about Josh's age, twenty-three and it was twelve years before I made a living." The film he did, 12 years later, was Star Wars, and Harrison Ford hasn't looked back since.
Yet just recently, this Hollywood icon finally received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Even the actor admits, laughingly, that he was surprised it took so long. "Because when I first came out here thirty years ago there was already a star out in front of Musso and Franks that bore my name. I thought: How fascinating but then I realized when I went to sign up at the Screen Actors Guild, that they already had a Harrison Ford who was indeed the owner of that and was a silent screen actor. So until he died I was billed as Harrison J. Ford for two little parts that I played or something and I think that after a while most people began to think that the star out in front of Musso and Franks was mine, so I really didn't feel I had any need to get a star on Hollywood Boulevard." Yet now that it's done, Ford is pleased but surprisingly cynical. "It was very nice that it happened so close to the occasion of the release of Hollywood Homicide," he says with a wry smile. That's really what it's about so I'm not fooling anybody about that."
Ford will be 63 when the long awaited Indiana Jones 4 finally hits screens. Still reticent about talking about the role that firmly established him as a major star, he looks forward to exploring the character as a 60-year old, not so much as an action hero. "I don't play the action hero. I play Indiana Jones, who has an opportunity to grow old as well as any other character. So I think as long as I feel fit and stay in shape I can continue to run, jump and fall down, I will." Ford says he still hasn't seen a script but "steven is quite happy with it. I expect to see it within the next few weeks." And while, in Hollywood Homicide, Ford's Joe Gavilan likes to moonlight in another profession, there is no sign of the veteran actor changing careers in the foreseeable future. "I love my work and I have a great time every time I work on a film. It's a whole new bunch of people, a whole new idea, a whole new problem to solve and that's what I like to do."