At his press conference for Blade Runner 2049, 75-year-old Harrison Ford is a revelation. After his plane crash and the controversy surrounding that accident, you expect him to be all the worse for wear.
But ageless is how I describe him. I tell him so and ask him how old he feels today. Jokingly he refuses to give a number.
Not only does he look inordinately healthy, he’s good-naturedly combatant and sharp as Indiana Jones’ whip. When asked an impertinent question, he responds accordingly.
Do you know what suit you are wearing?
No. And if I did know, I wouldn’t tell you. I am not here to sell clothes.
How do you explain your love of flying planes?
I am here to explain the love that I have for moviemaking.
Does fame make it more difficult to distinguish between what is real or not?
No, it’s an opportunity to help you find out who you really are, which is not necessarily what people think you are.
Can you elaborate?
No, I felt it was a pretty good answer.
What did it teach you about yourself?
I mean this in the nicest way, but it’s none of your business.
Of course, Ford was not always this curt. I recall his first press conference; in the early days he played hard to get, but when the 1986 film Mosquito Coast needed a boost he was there.
At the time I reminded him that he’d been in more blockbusters than any other actor in film history, and asked him why. His ingenuous answer was, “Luck, I suppose.”
Ford married actress Calista Flockhart in 2010. He was married twice before and is the father of four sons and a daughter, none of whom are pursuing an acting career.
Why have you always picked big action adventure movies throughout your career?
Audiences obviously enjoy them. That’s why a lot of them are made. I’ve had a good track record with them, but I’m always ambitious to do different sorts of films.
What’s the secret of your success?
It’s all luck. I just do the best job I can, and I work hard at what I do.
Does it bother you that you’ve been nominated only once for an Oscar?
I don’t take it personally. When I was nominated for Witness, I didn’t expect to win. I didn’t become part of the process.
I don’t really believe that you should give awards. I don’t believe in this competition among artists.
Are you a method actor?
Well, I don’t take the character home with me, if that’s what you mean. I usually settle on one approach to a scene, but I am very much influenced by what other actors bring to that scene.
I enjoy the surprise. I don’t like to rehearse much. It takes away the spontaneity, and it gives the other actors a chance to see what you’re going to do.
So, I prefer going for a take to preserve the freshness of the experience for both of us.
After watching a performance on screen, do you ever feel you could have done better?
I’m not sure perfection is a righteous goal.
You were in the original Blade Runner in 1982. What thoughts went through your mind the first day of shooting Blade Runner 2049?
I was grateful for the scripted opportunity, to take the character into a different place. I was grateful for the 30 years that had passed and the narrative accounting for that time.
And after seeing the film?
I was glad that despite its spectacle and the epic scale of it, there is intimate human emotion, and I say human in the Blade Runner way.
It’s complicated and it’s rich and it’s a pleasure for an actor to have that emotional access to the audience.
Do you still enjoy flying?
I only fly to get to work on movies. I continue to fly, and it’s an important part of life. But so is this (moviemaking).
I love the challenge of (flying) and I love the blend of freedom and responsibility that it represents.
I am deeply aware of what the airplane has brought us in respect to technology and how it has advanced the world.
It’s a complicated subject and I only have a little bit of time to talk about the movie, but I talk fast, and let it be noted, I talked about flying, OK?
Is there any reason why you never speak out on behalf of social or political causes? Aren’t you interested?
I’m very interested in a lot of issues – conservation, child welfare, women’s rights, and I support these as a private citizen, but I refuse to be a celebrity spokesman for any of them.
There are experts in these fields, and I prefer to hear what they have to say on the subject.
These problems are far too important to be fought out on the battleground as a celebrity. But I am actively involved with Conservation International.
What advice do you have for young actors?
I tell them to be useful. I once got a great piece of advice from (director) Mike Nichols, who was a great man, funny and smart. And he said this about the business, “Don’t let them turn you into a thing.”
I am not going to explain it, because it’s for all of us to think about.
When you look back on your career what are you most proud of?
If I look back at my career, the most I think about is how lucky I have been. I have worked with extraordinary people who have given me extraordinary opportunity, and they have given me fulfilment beyond my wildest imagination. They have given me purpose, and it’s better than a real job.