‘Paranoia’ supporting star Harrison Ford isn’t that scary to talk to

Sorry we didn't ask Harrison Ford any "Star Wars" questions (but not that sorry). Credit: Getty Images
Sorry we didn’t ask Harrison Ford any “Star Wars” questions (but not that sorry).
Credit: Getty Images

Harrison Ford isn’t as terrifying to talk to as you might have heard. Over the years he’s gotten a reputation as gruff, pissy, overly succinct, transparently wishing he was somewhere else. This isn’t completely untrue — as long as your questions aren’t too dumb, and especially if they aren’t about “Star Wars” or Indiana Jones. Now 71, he’s relaxed into supporting or at least co-lead roles, which he continues as one of the villains in the tech world thriller “Paranoia.” And though we were too scared/uninterested to ask him about his involvement in the next “Star Wars” entry, we were brave enough to ask about some of his earlier work — like the Jacques Demy film he almost starred in long, long before he was a star back in 1969.

This is another film about technology, about which you’ve voiced negative opinions in the past.
I’m just not a huge fan of so much connectivity. I use it for research and to take messages. I don’t much love it. It’s a love-hate relationship. Or it’s a like-hate relationship.

“Paranoia” touches on some important issues: income gaps, greed, health insurance. Were these what drew you to the film?
No. I was drawn to the character and the relationships, and the manipulation of an ambitious young person by two powerful businessmen. The cat and mouse of the whole thing is what interested me — and the opportunity to play a character different from what I’ve played lately. I haven’t played the bad guy for a very long time.

He’s not just a stock villain, though. He actually seems, for a time, genuine.
That’s what I liked about it. He’s a manipulator. What interested me was the complexity. There’s not only corporate greed and perfidy; there’s a young man who has a bit of the blind ambition issue. So he’s ripe for manipulation.

Did you do anything differently to get you in a different mindset?
I shaved my head. I shaved my hairline back and dyed my hair for “42.” There was no way it was going to grow out in time to be useful. So I presented myself to Paramount people with a shaved head, much to their surprise.

What’s fun about playing a villain?
It’s just something different. It’s something unexpected for the audience. I’m just happy to have fun.

You’ve been doing a lot more supporting and co-lead roles lately. Is that a way of getting rid of the burden of having to be the lead and carry a whole movie on your lonesome?
Yeah, it is. It’s great fun. You have the ability when people complain to say, “Hey, I just work here. Take it up with the boss.”

Is doing more character work a return to your earlier days?
No, it was no fun at all in my early days. I was playing smaller parts because I hadn’t become certified at that point, the way you are when you have some success. Then people start to be a little bit more interested in what you think and what you have to say.

It seems you had some wiggle-room in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation,” back in 1974.
Well, he was very generous, very collaborative in those days.

When you’re working with younger actors, do you tend to give them advice?
[Chuckles] No, I don’t give advice. It’s neither appropriate nor very nice to walk onto a set telling people how to conduct their lives, their careers. So, no. I hope I’m collegial and friendly, but I don’t offer advice to people. I thought they were great. I had a great time working with Liam and Gary, the younger actor. Everybody’s younger than I am.

There’s still some actors older than you.
How many?

Back in 1969, well before you were known, you almost wound up playing the lead in French filmmaker Jacques Demy’s first and only American film, “Model Shop.”
[Laughs] Jacques was a lovely guy. He wanted to make this movie in Los Angeles. When you drove down Santa Monica Boulevard, you’d see these “Live Nude Girls” signs for all kinds of weird stuff that was going on. He imagined a movie about a young man and a woman who worked in one of these places. We were friends and we researched it a bit. Jacques wanted me to star in it. And the studio, who was paying me $150 a week — and had all the respect for me that $150 a week implies — cast the film with Gary Lockwood while Jacques was up in San Francisco scouting locations. That was a shock to him. For me it was just another indication that I was hanging my hat on the wrong peg.

You and Jacques and his wife, Agnes Varda, stayed in touch, though. Varda has put you in some of her documentaries.
I still see Agnes anytime I got to Paris. She’s just exactly the same. I believe that last time I saw her she had purple hair. She’s great. I love her.

Did you ever try to work together again?
Jacques ran away from Hollywood, and I very shortly after that had a bit of luck. Before that I had started doing carpentry.

I read you first met George Lucas while you were building his bookshelves.
No. That’s a wrong story. The truth is Dean Tavalouris, who was Francis Ford Coppola’s art director, had had an elaborate entrance made for Francis’ offices. He couldn’t find a carpenter to install it. He asked me if I could do it, because he was really stuck. I said I’d do it at night, ‘cause I didn’t want to confuse people between my two careers. The last night I was working on it, by myself, finishing up, and George Lucas walked in for the first of the “Star Wars” interviews with Richard Dreyfuss. We had earlier been told by our agents that George was going to see anybody for “American Grafitti.” That was the first time I’d seen George in a very long time. Very shortly thereafter he asked me to read with all the other actors. So I read them, did screen tests. Then later they asked me if I wanted to play the part. So that’s the real story.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.