Harrison Ford is as iconic as some of his more classic characters. On screen, he remains tough, sometimes laconic and generally the quintessential movie star. But off screen, the Hollywood superstar has successfully built a wall around him from the media.
Tight lipped about anything other than his work, Ford is reserved, shy, quietly spoken and clearly uncomfortable with the publicity facet of moviemaking. Starring in Firewall, an often tense thriller in which he plays a husband and father whose family is taken hostage, Ford, sporting a small neatly trimmed beard, talked to Paul Fischer.
Question: So was it this character, Harrison, or the whole nature of the script that appealed to you about this?
Ford: Well one doesn’t exist without the other one you know. As you have to feed the character the story. What I was particularly interested in was the challenge of trying to create a character who is for 90% of the film is under extreme tension and the question of how to make that palatable, how to make that sustain for an audience, how to articulate that seem to me an interesting challenge.
Question: He evolved apparently considerably throughout the process of making it. I mean how much evolution was there from the time that you first read it from the time that you began shooting and beyond?
Ford: A lot, a lot. I can’t tell you how exactly and I have to go back and have something in front of me to look at because it is a very scene less long process. I have been involved with the film for a better part of 2 years so yeah of course there were going to changes. There were changes for the first director who unfortunately had to leave the project because of a personal tragedy. We had to find then another director who was interested in the project and who we were interested in and that took some period of time and then of course we had to make adjustments, which were to the script for Richard and we worked long and hard on the script for the better part of 2 years.
Question: Somebody describes this as a classic Harrison Ford movie. I mean do you think there is such a thing as a classical Harrison Ford movie and what do you think that is? What defines that?
Ford: I think that is a movie that I am in [laughter]. I think they are talking about thematics and my being in other films that are relatively the same thematic structure and they would be no such thing as a Harrison Ford film without some of them having been successful. I think if I did the same genre, if I did thriller after thriller after thriller like this I would wear out my welcome as easily as if I did one romantic comedy after another. I like to do a variety of different things. So every once in a while you have to forgive me for doing what others may call a Harrison Ford film.
Question: Paul Bettany mentioned that he was kind of in awe every time he would throw you through a window and you would just get up and do it again like 6, 7 times. But the interesting thing he says that you would go and help the guys put the window back together. Do you still dabble in your carpentry work from the days?
Ford: Only when I think times a wasting you know. I don’t get much chance to do carpentry work I got you know taken up other vocations so I don’t do much. I still like participating I still like you know I build…I am having things built frequently in my home or apartment and I love to participate I like the design phase now more than…I’ve lost my tools skills pretty much out of inactivity but I still enjoy the design process.
Question: Are you as passionate about the work today as you were for the last 30 years or so?
Ford: Maybe more because I feel maybe more strongly, maybe more secure in my opinion. I’ve always said that the hard part of acting is deciding what to do, doing it is playing, it is fun.
Question: So how do you decide what to do?
Ford: You would do that in concert with other people on the phone. You do it on a objective level you do it on a subjective level you talk about whether a scene is working or not articulate a fix if you think it is not working so on and so forth. But I care passionately about the product that I am offering to people with my face on it and I feel responsible to the audience and do the best I can under the circumstances to make a good film for them.
Question: How many times during this junket have you been asked about Indiana Jones 4?
Ford: 30 [laughter].
Question: Are we going to see it in Indiana Jones 4?
Ford: I have that expectation. We have pretty much settled on a story and doing some script work and hopefully it will happen soon.
Question: How different is it going to be doing one 17 years later?
Ford: Well it will be somewhat different because we are…no that is not true it is going to be exactly the same [laughter].
Question: Can you look back at some of your early films with any degree of objectivity?
Ford: I can only be objective from the point of view of my own experience and I can only be objective in a narrow sort of way, so I don’t mean to interrupt the question but I can intellectually posture objectivity if you want, but I am invested, I lived there, so I have a different experience than as a moviegoer…
Question: Are you going to see Harrison Ford direct anytime soon?
Ford: I don’t have no plans to that [laughter].
Question: What about writing?
Ford: That is even harder than directing.
Question: What about your memoirs…I mean you are too young to do your memoirs I know but has anybody asked you to write a autobiography yet?
Ford: No…I wouldn’t do that.
Question: Ever. You wouldn’t ever do it?
Ford: I don’t think so. I have a hard enough time writing thank you notes from Christmas.
Question: Apart from any Indiana Jones 4 is there anything else that you’re looking at?
Ford: I am going to do a film called Manhunt, which is the capture of John Wilkes Booth the assassin of Abraham Lincoln. I have 3 or 4 things in development, which are beginning to look really good. So I don’t know what I will do after Manhunt or the Indiana Jones film.