CULTURE

Harrison Ford: Star with a life

DAUVILLE, France – Harrison Ford is one of Hollywood’s top three stars in the business today – alongside Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that when he meets a journalist he insists, heavily, on promoting his film. In person, the 61-year-old actor, who rose to fame playing Indiana Jones, before turning into a spy, a fugitive, and even the president of the United States, defends his reputation as one of the film industry’s most charming men. In Ron Shelton’s «Hollywood Homicide» (currently showing at local cinemas) Ford stars alongside rising star Josh Hartnett. They duo play two Los Angeles detectives, who are too busy moonlighting: Ford, as a real estate agent and Hartnett an aspiring actor who also teaches yoga. There seem to be large gaps between your movies. Why don’t you make more films? I make one film per year. I have a real life. There are things which interest me much more than making films. I have a family, other interests or things I’d like to do. When you’re the lead actor in a big production, together with the preparation prior to going on location and the screenings which follow, you need about seven months for each movie. If a great script falls into my hands, I might consider changing my schedule. In any case, I try not to shoot more than one film every year. Would you say that «Hollywood Homicide» is just a police buddy movie, or perhaps also a commentary on the characters’ working conditions? It is a police buddy movie, the difference being that it does have this realistic moonlighting element. In real life, of course, policemen separate the two jobs, but given the film’s comic elements, we mixed the two a little. Do you identity with your character, Joe Gavilan? Of course. I had no trouble understanding him. I comprehend his relationships with his colleagues, as well his personal life, his differences with his partner in terms of the generation gap, his philosophy, his favorite music. Is the movie, above all, funny? I think so. It’s neither a parody nor a satire, it’s a comedy. Every film, every story, is challenging. This film is not a serious comment on conflicting interests. My character’s multifaceted activities do not influence him all that much at the end of the day. He solves the case and sells the house. There is no dishonesty here, besides the four hours he takes to play the real estate agent. Are you ready to make another comedy? Not right away, as I just finished working on this one. Besides, I have been involved in a number of comedies, so far. I did «Working Girl,» «Six Days, Seven Nights» – even «Star Wars» was a comedy in a certain way, given that I had to converse with a guy in a dog costume. Among all the scripts you receive, how do you choose the one for your annual film? My selection is based on who is involved in the production – the director, for instance – and making sure that there are no repetitive elements in terms of my previous films; also something with a potential for success… When you disagree on something, does Harrison Ford, the Hollywood star, intervene? The truth is that I do have a certain influence during the shooting, but I’m no dictator; I’m a collaborator. I’m not the boss; I’m one of the people who can intervene creatively. But I’m not the director; I have a role to play. The leading one. OK. I do have a certain degree of influence and I try to use it in a creative way, to improve the movie. Why didn’t «Hollywood Homicide» become a huge box office success? The film was released during a period with lots of action movies, many sequels… There was a commercially heavy atmosphere this past summer. Perhaps a different release date might have brought different results. Do you think that the audiences’ tastes are changing? I believe that the younger generation is turning toward films with special effects – you know, the kind of productions which are half movie, half video game. It’s an entirely different culture these days. Perhaps our film didn’t do that well commercially because it was considered old-fashioned. It is about characters, relationships, small details. Take «Charlie’s Angels,» for instance. Do you consider it a comedy? It’s an event in motion, there is no plot. There are no characters influencing the action, just things happening to these three girls. One part of the public might be interested in this kind of movie, and perhaps it is this public which is not interested in our kind of film. A number of your films, like «Blade Runner» and «Star Wars,» for instance, had a huge impact on cinema audiences. Did you feel this was going to happen while making the movies? You never know that you can expect this kind of success. You just try to do your best. In «Blade Runner,» for instance, it’s well known that I was not satisfied with the first version’s off-camera narration, but I was obliged to do it because of my contract. I did my best and hoped for the best. You are preparing for the fourth «Indiana Jones» sequel. Would you mind if the series carried on with another actor? Another actor? It sounds like one of those rumors circulating on the Internet. I would be very surprised if something like that happened, knowing George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. The truth is that I don’t take things personally. I love my job, I like working with the technicians, the electricians, the cameramen, the directors, the writers, the other actors – I like the work. I’m not worried about the future, or if someone else takes on the role of Indiana Jones. At which stage is the production? There are lots of different rumors going around. They keep changing writers, for instance, there was even a rumor that M. Night Shyamalan was writing the script. We begin shooting at the end of summer 2004, and no, Night never wrote a complete script. He was one of those being considered for the job. The production is running behind schedule because we were looking for an interesting idea for the plot. Besides, up to now everybody was involved with something else. Will it be physically challenging for you this time around? There are always physical difficulties involved and Indiana is the kind of role which has a lot of these, but – thank you very much – I feel just fine. The interview was translated from the Greek text.