Harrison Ford: The Eternal Superstar

By Stella a.k.a. Canyon

You know what is upsetting me a great deal these days? When I open a magazine or read an article which rips into Harrison Ford. Recently in a magazine I read a review of Hollywood Homicide on DVD and it began something along the lines of ‘It’s a shame when you see your heroes fall’. That very same evening I began to write down my thoughts on this subject, partially because I was feeling more than a little fed up with people’s comments and I also thought it was a good idea for an article.

When Raiders of the Lost Ark came out, Harrison Ford was hailed as an international superstar. He was compared to many great screen legends such as Errol Flynn, Cary Grant etc. Now he is older and his last couple of films have not done so well, I feel that he is being slated.

When I think of Harrison I have nothing but respect because I know that my favorite actor is a wonderful person, father, actor and environmentalist. I have never met him (unfortunately!) but from what I have heard, he is apparently extremely nice to talk to and a very humble and sincere man. Back in May when I was at the screening of the Indiana Jones trilogy in Milton Keynes, UK (the day before myself, Peter and Ralph were due to interview four actors from the trilogy) I got to ask Paul Freeman and Julian Glover what it was like working with Harrison. Paul replied with “Harrison is an absolute sweetie” and indeed John Rhys Davies, Julian Glover and David Yip also made similar complimentary remarks about how wonderful Harrison is as not just an actor but a person as well.

The question I want to ask is not ‘What happened to Harrison Ford’s career’, but more along the lines of ‘What happened to people’s attitudes regarding Harrison Ford. Maybe one of the reasons’ this has happened is because over the last twenty years or so, cinema has changed. We have recently entered the age of CGI - computer generated imagery. If you go back to when the last Indy film was released (1989) CGI did not yet exist and several other action films were released in that same year e.g. Lethal Weapon 2, James Bond – License to Kill, Batman etc, all without digital effects. Maybe audiences have now got higher expectations nowadays.

Despite the fact that I did not become a real Harrison Ford/Indiana Jones fan until the late 80’s, this particular decade was the time that this actor and icon were the most popular. Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that there are millions of Harrison Ford fans out there and we all know that Indy is easily the Worlds Greatest Action Hero and screen adventurer, proven even more by the recent DVD release. In the US alone, the combined box office figures for the trilogy were $1.2 Billion and in my country (the UK) the total was 28.4 million (the equivalent being 66.4 m). What I want to know is why do people some people seem to be of the opinion that Harrison is ‘too old’’ something which really gets to me. I remember seeing an article on the internet by someone saying that Harrison should give up acting. Needless to say, I was extremely angry with this person’s comments. When Bladerunner was released in cinemas, the film was criticized. I believe that some audiences did not expect Harrison to take this type of role. I feel that they almost expected a kind of futuristic Indiana Jones movie. Even director Ridley Scott wanted his star to wear a wide brimmed hat (similar to the one in Raiders). I first saw Bladerunner when I was sixteen, and at the time I was too young to appreciate it. Now that I am older I love the film and consider it to be a visual masterpiece and one of Ford’s finest performances to date. Okay, so let’s look at Ford’s last four films.

What Lies Beneath – In my opinion this is an intense and chilling film. Random Hearts – Most Ford fans I know really enjoyed watching this film. At first, I found it a little bit slow moving but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

K19: The Widowmaker – Again, Harrison Ford played a ‘bad guy’ and maybe this is why this film did not do too well at the box office.

Hollywood Homicide – I absolutely loved this film and laughed my head off in the cinema. A very entertaining film.

I can’t help but think that if Harrison had made another three or four Indy films, I don’t think that his career would have given him as many opportunities as he was given to widen his acting skills. I doubt very much that he would have been offered parts in films such as Witness, The Mosquito Coast, Frantic, Presumed Innocent etc, because firstly he would have been working on the Indy films and there would not have been enough time to make these, and secondly he may not have been looked upon as a ‘serious actor’. Now, I’m not suggesting for a moment that Harrison is not a good actor and I’m not saying that his acting wasn’t wonderful in the Indy trilogy or even that Harrison is not a serious actor. In my opinion, he is more than capable of carrying a serious role as much as he is as doing action/adventure roles i.e. Indy, Star Wars, Frantic, Patriot Games etc.

I would just like to say that I believe people should not look at Harrison Ford and think ‘Yeah, well he was a great action hero in the 70’s and 80’s’ but they should at least respect the fact that Harrison is older now and they should at least remember all the hard work that Harrison put into these roles and not just the acting, but the physical side as well. Here is a man who has starred in six out of ten of the highest grossing films, which in my opinion are some of the most fun, fantastically wonderful and most successful movies in cinema history. Here is someone who when making one of the most successful trilogies, put 110% into these films. Physically, he worked really hard, and as all of you will know, suffered sickness whilst making Raiders, serious back injury whilst making Temple of Doom. This year, Harrison received an honorary stunt award for all of the countless stunts that he has done whilst making films, something which I think that not many actors would dream of doing in films today. I will end by saying that Harrison Ford is a great actor and I believe that he deserves nothing but respect for the work that he has put into films for the past thirty years.