Great movie stars are often underrated as actors because they make what they do look effortless. Case in point: Harrison Ford. In person, talking to EW about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, he sounds nothing like his adventuresome character or like anyone he's played onscreen. His voice is pitched much lower, and he's not emphatic in his delivery at all. There's not a trace of hurry in his cadences. It underscores the fact that every detail of what Ford does as Indy is a careful invention. The actor, now 65, is guarded, almost prickly, in speaking of his work; he seems to have a horror of being perceived as even remotely conceited (which he isn't). But he opened up about the tradeoffs of stardom, why making Indy movies remains a career high, and how his stubbornness regarding contracts paid off on the Star Wars films.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So you haven't seen the final cut of Crystal Skull yet.
HARRISON FORD: After making the movie out of continuity, I really would be hard-pressed to sit you down and walk you through the entire plot. If somebody tortured me for information about it, I'd probably end up dying.
George Lucas says it's not the money that prompted him to revisit this franchise he did it for love of these kinds of movies.
Speak for yourself, George. [Laughs] Speak for yourself.
Sometimes when George talks about you, he sort of imitates you or at least he uses a voice different than his normal voice.
He has a Harrison? Has he? [Deadpan] I'll bet it's great. He's such a good actor. [More laughter]
You're deliberately letting Indy age in Crystal Skull. That never happens in, say, the James Bond films. They seem to replace the actor once he gets too old. Or too expensive.
Do you fit either of those categories?
We'll see. That's one of the things I was most keen about. Just acknowledge the years between the last one and this one. Without reservation. Just acknowledge it. What's the big deal? The guy's 18, 20 years older. So what? I resisted some early efforts, for instance, to think about coloring my hair. I said, Uh, no.
What was the pro-hair-dye argument?
To look better, in some sense. I don't think there was ever a resistance to acknowledging the character's age. It's just a question of whether some people thought I'd be a better-looking 65 if my hair was colored.
American culture is generally paranoid about aging.
Well, I'm here to help. [Laughs] What would you like me to do?
By being in this movie with gray hair, you're doing it! A lot of people, when they hear about Crystal Skull, do a double take. Harrison Ford? Isn't he...um...
Yeah, I've heard it. ''Aaaaw, he's older.'' Well s---, yes. And by the way? So are you. So...are...you! Take a look in the f---ing mirror!
But the public doesn't want to look in the mirror they can't face their own mortality. And they don't especially like seeing their favorite movies stars get older, either.
Well, what's really happening is that we're making movies for only one segment of the audience. We're making movies that are geared to youth culture. Movies that have to have a representative of that age group in the leading role. But this is a movie which is geared not to one segment of the demographic, an age-defined segment. It's interesting that while we've been off doing other things, a generation and a half of moviegoers have been introduced to [the Indiana Jones films] through the agency of their family. Fathers and mothers passing on this experience to their sons and daughters. It's pretty interesting that this is such a family event. We've got a great shot at breaking the movie demographic constraints.
NEXT PAGE: ''I did urge George to kill the character [of Han Solo], because I thought that would be his best utility. To die, and give the story some resonance.... But I couldn't get George to go along with that. He didn't want to stop making the toys.''