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Harrison Ford says story more important than high profile film roles

Few actors have achieved the iconic status of Harrison Ford. When asked if he ever predicted his success, Ford humbly admits that it was hardly what he expected.

Few actors have achieved the iconic status of Harrison Ford. The man who cracked Indiana Jones’ whip and flew the Millenium Falcon is an idol for generations of movie lovers — and has made Hollywood lots of money.

When asked if he ever predicted his success, Ford humbly admits that it was hardly what he expected. “I thought if I was really lucky I’d get a regular part in a TV series. I had no ambition to be anything more than an employed actor,” Ford says.

“I had no concept of the potential that I was lucky enough to achieve. I thought I was a character actor, not a leading man.”

But despite all his success, the 67-year old Ford admits he is now less interested in finding high profile films to increase his star status than he is in finding roles that interest him as an actor.

“What I look for is something different from what I’ve done lately and a role that plays an important part in telling a story that I think would make a good movie,” says Ford.

This search for material led Ford to produce Extraordinary Measures, the true story of John Crowley, a man who gave up a successful career to pursue a cure to the rare disease affecting his children.

It was Ford who brought the material to the studio to turn it into a film. “I thought Crowley’s story was a fantastic example of what courage, conviction, and passion can do to change your life,” says Ford.

“I was looking for material to develop in which I would have a role to play. It seemed to me that the best ally for a character was story. So I thought that if I had a strong story I could find a strong character.”

The project allowed Ford to create the role of the surely Dr. Robert Stonehill, who helps Crowley achieve his goal. Stonehill is not based on a real person, instead Ford created his character based on the research that he and his filmmaking partners uncovered.

“We didn’t find anyone as maladjusted and difficult as my character, but we found the circumstances that might lead a man to feel that way. Often a college’s football coach will make more than the entire science budget of some institutions,” says Ford. The character plays to the actor’s strengths, but he is quick to admit that he has no intention of producing films regularly. “I wouldn’t do it unless there’s a good part for myself. It’s too much like a real job otherwise.”

Of course, no matter what the actor has done lately, fans still want to see him return to his most famous roles. Ford admits there’s a chance he will be donning Indy’s fedora again.

“George Lucas is working on a new idea. If it bears fruit and Steven Spielberg and I both respond to it, I’d be happy to do it,” says Ford. But for now, the actor is primarily focused on finding new and interesting characters to share with his audience, much as he always has: “I didn’t become an actor to be rich an famous. I did it to tell stories and have a job that I liked.”

• Extraordinary Measures opens in theatres on Friday