Whether he’s an adventurous ’30s archaeologist or an embattled ’80s lawyer, Harrison Ford is a bona fide leading man in an age when few leading men and fewer leaders — capture our hearts. Have you rented a Ford, lately?
Star Wars(1977) I was one of the few people who thought it was going to work, and I hadn’t even seen any special effects. I just thought George (Lucas) had tapped into something primordial, some myth that I recognized the power of. The wise old warrior played by Alec Guinness, the callow prince played by Mark Hamill, the princess played by Carrie Fisher — and I knew that I was the rapscallion of the universe. And I thought it was funny. I always thought Star Wars and Indiana Jones were basically comedies. The humor came out of their relationships; it came out of the fact that we were basically types.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) It’s the most complex of the Star Wars films. I had a close relationship with (director Irvin) Kershner, and we were able to indulge ourselves. The neatest example was when Han Solo is going to be frozen. In the script, the princess says, ”I love you,” and Han says, ”I love you, too.” I felt we were losing the opportunity for humor and changing the guy’s whole persona. So I suggested that she’d say, ”I love you,” and Han would say, ”I know.” Which got a big laugh.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) I saw the opportunity to do a character who was instantly attractive to people. The script described something so exciting that the opportunity to work with Steven (Spielberg) was undeniable. The whole thing was a major dream. And then we had such a good time doing it.
Blade Runner (1982) I was desperately unhappy (with it). I was compelled by contract to record five or six different versions of the narration, each of which was found wanting on a storytelling basis. The final version was something that I was completely unhappy with. (The movie) obviously has a very strong following, but it could have been more than a cult picture.
Return of the Jedi (1983) I felt number three lacked the necessary resolution. I was convinced that Han Solo should die. I told George, ”He’s got no mama, no papa, and he’s got no story. Let’s kill him and let him die and give some weight to this thing.” George wouldn’t go along with me.
The Mosquito Coast (1986) It’s the only film I have done that hasn’t made its money back. I’m still glad I did it. If there was a fault with the film, it was that it didn’t fully enough embrace the language of the book (by Paul Theroux). It may have more properly been a literary rather than a cinematic exercise. But I think it’s full of powerful emotions.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) I insisted we complicate the character. I wanted not only the adventure, the environment, to be good, but I wanted the audience to have the opportunity to learn something more about the character. The device of introducing his father (played by Sean Connery) was a stroke of genius.