Harrison Ford opens up
Before you ask, Harrison Ford doesn’t want to talk about “Star Wars.” Or “Indiana Jones.” Or any other franchises that he may or may not be taking part in again. “Ain’t going there,” he offers simply. And he’s not much interested in the broader workings of Hollywood as an industry, or why certain types of films have a better chance of getting made than others. But social justice issues? He has plenty to say about those. That’s why he took on the part of Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, the man who brought Jackie Robinson on as the first African-American player in major league baseball.
You were a kid when the events in “42” happened.
I wasn’t a big baseball fan, so I think it went largely unnoticed in our family. My parents were old-style Democrat liberals and they were very interested in social justice. But because we weren’t so involved in baseball we didn’t really so much notice. I think they were very involved and vocal when it came to the civil rights movement years later. But by then I had fled the nest. So I vaguely knew that something was happening, but I wasn’t a sports fan, didn’t follow sports.
Did you ever become a baseball fan?
Nope, nope. You know, I learned what I needed to learn about the business of baseball, what was going on in baseball and who these characters were that were coming into my office as elements in the story. But that’s the depth of my knowledge.
Do you see any parallels between Jackie Robinson’s struggle for racial acceptance and the current battle for marriage equality?
I think there’s a metaphor you can reach for, according to your own interests and your own understanding and your own issues. But trying to create the best expression of the ideals — the most equal society, the best-regulated society, the best-behaving society — depend on attending to equality and inequity whenever it rears its ugly head. Certainly the marriage issue conveniently falls into that category.
It’s remarkable how quickly opinions on it have been changing over the last few years.
Yeah, things do change quickly at a tipping point, as it builds and it builds and it builds until there’s a moment where the balance of opinion, the weight of experience and the understanding comes to a point where the scales tip in the other direction. We’re getting there, we’re getting there. You know, you would hope that it would have happened with less resistance. You would have hoped that everyone would get the point at the same time, but life’s not like that.
You recently worked for a bit on “Anchorman 2.”
I went to Atlanta to do a cameo in “Anchorman 2” — if you call that work. It felt like a goofy dream. It’s a whole different ball of wax.
Is that character anything like the TV news man you played in “Morning Glory”?
Dangerously close, unless what I did to get distance between the two of them worked.
What do you think of the state of Hollywood in that…
I just work here, you know? I’m real interested in the quality of my films and the context that they live in, but in general? I have nothing in general to say about Hollywood or the choices they make or what they do. I just don’t know how to understand it that way.
I was thinking about how hard it is to get an original dramatic movie green-lit these days…
I can’t even tell you, I can’t even attend to that question because I think there were some very unusual movies that did get made. You can’t use “Life of Pi” to underpin that point of view. Everything is different, each movie has its own destiny, it has qualities that are unique.
But that one was based on a best-selling novel.
Yeah, but it was largely two people — an animal and a person — in the middle of a blue screen. And often not a real animal.
What is your view on reviving successful franchises like “Star Wars” versus looking for original projects?
Well, I’m always looking for something new, and I think I’ve demonstrated that in my career. I’ve always tried to play characters different to what I’ve recently played — except in the case of a franchise kind of character, and that’s a whole different ballgame. But I’ve always looked for something different to bring to the audience about that character if I play it more than once. And I think we successfully did that in both of the franchises, and even in the [Jack] Ryan franchise, which I participated in for a short period of time.
On ‘Star Wars’
The following is what happens when you ask Harrison Ford to talk about ‘Star Wars’
So, about “Star Wars”…
Not going there.