There’s no end to the s—storm that befalls Jack Ryan,” Harrison Ford says, sitting by the pool during a break in filming Clear and Present Danger at a hacienda near Cuernavaca, Mexico. In Danger, the CIA analyst Ford played in the 1992 Tom Clancy thriller Patriot Games takes over for his dying mentor (James Earl Jones), discovers the U.S. is secretly waging war against Colombia’s cocaine cartel, nearly gets assassinated by drug lords, and unites with a mercenary (Willem Dafoe) to rescue U.S. troops stranded in the South American jungle. Beats office work.
After deciding that shooting in Colombia would be too perilous, Danger‘s producers selected the Hacienda San Gabriel de las Palmas, one of Emiliano Zapata’s headquarters during the Mexican Revolution, as the estate for the film’s chief villain, a drug kingpin played by Miguel Sandoval. For the attempted-assassination sequence, in which Ryan and other American officials are ambushed on a Bogota, Colombia, street by rocket-launching snipers, the filmmakers spent eight weeks building an entire block of fake storefronts and residences on the outskirts of Mexico City. Director Phillip Noyce (Patriot Games, Sliver) plotted the sequence’s shots using computer-animated storyboards before Steven Zaillian and Donald Stewart, two of the film’s three writers, added dialogue.
Although Ryan is often surrounded by explosions and gunfire, Ford says he never puts himself in any real danger. ”I don’t do stunts,” he says. ”I do running, jumping, falling down. I hit people, I get hit by people, that kind of s—. Stunts are done by stuntmen.”
Besides, Ford’s more interested in touching people’s hearts than in stopping them. ”You need to invest an action scene with moments of emotion. The audience is quite used to the kinetics,” he says. ”You can’t show them too much more than they saw in The Dukes of Hazzard as far as rolling cars over. But if you get them to care about who’s inside the cars, then it’s a whole different thing.”