Career Watch: Harrison Ford

by Anne Thompson
November 16, 2010 8:53 AM
5 Comments
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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.'

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5 Comments

  • Meet Harrison Ford | February 25, 2014 2:24 PMReply

    Hello !
    I'm french cinema student, and I saw your very interesting interview with Mr Harrison Ford.
    How did you meet him ?
    Thank you for your reply.

  • Brian | November 17, 2010 5:45 AMReply

    Ford was never much of an actor, but he was a pretty damned good movie star, which isn't a bad thing to be. But his appeal was based on action and once he gets too old or slow, it's time to do character parts, which he's perfectly suited for. He's no iconic figure like John Wayne, who rode out high on his horse in his last movie, THE SHOOTIST, when he was about the age Ford is now, three years before he died of cancer. Nor is he Gable or Gary Cooper, both of whom were dead well before they were the age Ford was when he made INDY 4...CRYSTAL SKULL.

  • mary | November 17, 2010 1:28 AMReply

    I agree that Harrison Ford should not take a the bullet for the box office failure of “Morning Glory”, especially he and Diane Keaton were barely in this film's TV spots. (On the other hand, Rachel McAdams had so much screen time in the TV spots)

    That said, if Harrison Ford was willing to do more different kinds of roles when he was young, he would have a better career right now.

  • slingemaster | November 16, 2010 10:52 AMReply

    Worth noting that at one point Harrison Ford was THE biggest box office star of all time, headlining more $100 million hits than any other actor with the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Jack Ryan franchises, as well as Air Force One and The Fugitive. For all of the L.A. Times' Steven Zeitchik's musing about Ford's career downturn ("What happened? Did we outgrow Ford? Or was his range never as great as we thought it was?"), it seems like the elephant in the room that the guy is pushing 70 and is old enough to be most moviegoers' father, if not grandfather.

  • uncle gibby | November 16, 2010 9:47 AMReply

    Rachel McAdams is MORE than ready for prime time. She was great in "Morning Glory" . If anyone should "take a bullet" it should be Paramount
    by moving up the opening at the last minute and not giving the film the support it needed. There was absolutely no print advertising in my market (Milwaukee) and that's what people look at when they go out to catch a flick.
    All the principal players went on TV to promote the film and the video promos were out there but didn't play as frequently as "Unstoppable" or "Skyline".
    "Morning Glory" may yet grow some legs and if people get out they will see
    what a talented actress Rachel McAdams is.

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