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Career Watch: Harrison Ford

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 16, 2010 at 8:53AM

Media folks reveling in the decline of Harrison Ford are missing the point. He was terrific in Morning Glory and he wasn't the star. Rachel McAdams has to take the bullet for not being a ready-for-prime-time player. Supporting actors Ford and Diane Keaton actually pulled in older moviegoers, where McAdams didn't score with her age demo. (WOM could still kick in. Yes, it's a familiar story, and it's no Broadcast News, but it's well-done.) And now that Ford, at age 68, is out of the running for those $20 million leads, he's free! He can do whatever he wants. He doesn't HAVE to carry studio tentpoles anymore. Here's a sample from my latest AOL Moviefone Career Watch column.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Media folks reveling in the decline of Harrison Ford are missing the point. He was terrific in Morning Glory and he wasn't the star. Rachel McAdams has to take the bullet for not being a ready-for-prime-time player. Supporting actors Ford and Diane Keaton actually pulled in older moviegoers, where McAdams didn't score with her age demo. (WOM could still kick in. Yes, it's a familiar story, and it's no Broadcast News, but it's well-done.) And now that Ford, at age 68, is out of the running for those $20 million leads, he's free! He can do whatever he wants. He doesn't HAVE to carry studio tentpoles anymore. Here's a sample from my latest AOL Moviefone Career Watch column.

Career Peaks: Ford enjoyed a rare 25-year run as an A-list movie star, from his break-out in George Lucas' 'American Grafitti' in 1973 through iconic roles in the 'Star Wars' and 'Indiana Jones' franchises and the Jack Ryan series that ended with 'Clear and Present Danger' in 1994. He was a dishy romantic lead in 'Witness,' 'Working Girl' and 'Regarding Henry,' but made his fortune as an action hero in tentpoles such as 'The Fugitive' and 'Air Force One.'

Awards Attention: He was nominated for the best actor Oscar only once, for Peter Weir's 'Witness,' in 1985.

Biggest Problem: He's no longer a marquee draw. While he's delightful in 'Morning Glory,' which drew an older crowd, his promo tour on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' and 'David Letterman' didn't cut it. For decades he wouldn't leave the comfort of his home if he didn't get his $20 million asking price, turning down the lead in Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-winning 'Traffic' -- which went to Michael Douglas -- in favor of the Russian-accented captain in 'K-19: The Widowmaker.' His low points include such studio fare as 'Sabrina,' 'Six Days, Seven Nights,' 'Firewall,' 'Hollywood Homicide,' 'The Devil's Own' and 'Random Hearts.'

This article is related to: Directors, Franchises, Career Watch, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.