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Harrison Ford - Biography

Harrison Ford

Personal details

Name: Harrison Ford
Born: 13 July 1942 (Age: 72)
Where: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Height: 6' 1"
Awards: 1 Golden Globe, 1 Oscar, 1 BAFTA nominations

All about this star

Biography:

As we all know, the biggest Hollywood stars are amongst the highest-paid people on the planet. Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, Jim Carrey, all receive fees of over $20 million for a single picture, often with a hefty slice of the film's gross thrown in. This is because their names are a guarantee of sorts. Millions will go see a Hanks film simply because it's Hanks, because Hanks makes good films, because Hanks films are so often An Event.

But none of these guys can yet hold a candle to the grand-daddy of all current cinematic superstars. Harrison Ford is the richest of them all. He has starred in no fewer than 4 of the 10 top grossing movies of all time, 8 of the top 50. His movies have grossed nearly $6 billion, and this without taking into account inflation - you could add a few more billion by updating the takes of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies. Even at the age of 60, Ford was still taking $25 million per picture, with 20% of gross on top. Financially speaking, he's the biggest there ever was.

There are good reasons for this. In most of his movies, he is America personified. America believes itself to be a good guy. Troubled but good. America is decent with high moral standards. America doesn't start fights, but woe betide you if you push it around. It may not start fights, but it certainly finishes them. And this is Harrison Ford's appeal. He's not a bash-'em-up superhero like Arnie or Stallone. His characters don't want trouble, they don't like it, they might even be scared of it, but when pushed to extremes they come through, always victorious.

That's Ford's appeal, but it's in no way an adequate summation of the man and his talents. He's of course best known for his action heroes, yet over four decades he's played any number of different characters. And, while he's had it, he's used his power well. A pain-in-the-ass perfectionist, he's ensured that very, very few of the movies he's headlined have been duds. The guy works hard, he's a trooper. A super-trooper perhaps, but a trooper nonetheless.

He was born on the 13th of July, 1942, in Chicago. His Irish-Catholic father, Christopher, worked in advertising while his Russian-Jewish mother, Dorothy, looked after Harrison and his brother Terence. As a kid, Harrison was very shy, sensing that he was different, not like the other kids. At school in suburban Des Plaines, just north-west of Chicago, he was bullied continually for not fitting in, not craving popularity or success. Each day, the hard kids would take the future Indiana Jones to the edge of the road where the playground sloped down, beat him up and roll him down the hill. He would never fight back.

Though furious inside (an anger he would keep for years), he kept up a Gandhi-like policy of non-violence, enraging his tormentors even more.

. Eventually, he moved on to Maine Township High School in Park Ridge, at the north end of Chicago proper (Hillary Rodham would later attend the establishment). Here he continued to be uninvolved. He wasn't good at sports, never rose above a C-average in class. Nothing pointed to his future success, except a minor interest in radio broadcasting. His was the first voice heard on the High School-based WMTH-FM.

Fortunately, he still made college, as the faculty advisor at Maine knew the director of admissions at Ripon College in Wisconsin. So, having graduated from High School in 1960, off Ford went to study English. How he hated it. Growing his hair, as befitted a fan of the burgeoning post-Beat counter-culture, he found the place claustrophobically conservative. After a while, he began to show symptoms of clinical depression. He'd sleep for days on end, finding it more and more difficult to raise himself. Once he recalls waking after a 3-day nap and deciding to attend a class. Everything moved in slow motion. He got to the class and, unable to turn the handle of the classroom door, he turned around and went back to bed.

This went on throughout his 3-year term. Work went undone, classes were ignored. "The kindest word to describe my performance," he said later "was Sloth". A few days before graduation, the authorities realised what he'd been up to and withheld his degree.

Two good things had happened during his time at Ripon, though. First, he met and fell for Mary Marquardt. They would marry in 1964, the year after he left college, and produce two sons - Benjamin, later a chef, and Willard, later a history teacher. And, in his last year, he gave acting a go, trying out summer stock with the Belfry Players. At one point starring as Mac the Knife in The Threepenny Opera, he discovered that this was something he could do, something to pursue. He liked the idea of working intensely with a group of people for a short time, then moving on to the next intense experience. It was a chance to lead "many lives". Besides, the director had told him he'd get him work if he ever went to California.

With hopes high, Ford took Mary west in his old Volkswagon bus, and began to work and study at the Laguna Playhouse. He also managed to achieve that famous scar on his chin. Attempting to belt up while driving, he lost control of the car. In his later movies, it would be explained away in various ways. The third Indiana Jones film had him cutting his chin with a whip when a kid. Working Girl saw him claim that, when trying to pierce his own ear as a teen, he'd fainted and smashed his chin on the toilet. Though he bashed his chin, he did manage to save his ass, avoiding the Vietnam draft by applying to be a conscientious objector and spinning such a tale about his religious beliefs that the draft board never bothered him again.

At this time, the big studios were running young talent programmes, so in 1965 Harrison got himself an interview with a casting director at Columbia. The usual questions were asked, the usual "We'll call you" ending arrived. Ford left the office, thinking nothing would come of it. Then, before he took the lift down, he decided he needed to pee and, as he exited the urinal afterwards, he saw the casting director's assistant running down the corridor after him. Did he want a contract? $150 a week OK? It was, and Harrison was in. But he knew they didn't want him that badly, that if he hadn't stopped to pee the assistant would never have run down the street after him.

Now came his feature film debut, in Dead Heat On A Merry-Go-Round, a smart crime drama involving an airport robbery and featuring James Coburn. Ford appeared briefly as a bell-hop, his first words in movies being "Paging Mr Jones...Paging Mr Jones". Next came another tiny role, as a hippy in the Jack Lemmon comedy Luv. There were also TV spots in The Virginian and Ironside. He'd be credited as Harrison J. Ford to avoid confusion with the silent-screen actor that shared his name - in reality there's no J.

But things were not really going well. Ford was kicked off the Columbia programme and picked up by Universal in 1967. It didn't get better. There were more small roles, in the James Caan-starring Civil War flick Journey To Shiloh, in Antonioni's hippy classic Zabriskie Point (Ford's part was cut, but you can still see him flash by in the jail sequence), and Getting Straight, a very contemporary piece where Elliott Gould rails against college conservatism and the students riot.

But the powers that be had a limited view of his face and talents. He was either cast in cowboy roles, as a hippy or as the suspicious looking kid who's later found not to have committed the crime after all. This later became very obvious when he was cast in both The FBI and Gunsmoke as characters exactly the same as ones he'd played in the same shows very recently. No one remembered, no one seemed to care. The laziness and carelessness hit this perfectionist hard.

Then again, the studio authorities had always found him difficult. After Dead Heat an exec had tried to give him a lesson in humility. He told him he got the lines right but he had no star quality. Check out Tony Curtis in HIS first role, the exec said. He's a grocery clerk but you KNOW he's a movie star. "I thought the point was you were supposed to think he was a grocery clerk", countered Ford, quite reasonably. "Get the f*** out of my office!", countered the exec.

Another exec would take it into his head that Harrison was the new Elvis. He even sent him down to the studio's barber with a photograph of the King so they'd get it just right. Oh, the humiliation...

This went on right up until he found fame. Years later, he had to play a biology teacher who at one point gives a lecture on spiders. He bought himself a tarantula, learned its ways, how to handle it. He took it onto the set, thinking it would add depth to the scene, help the director. The director's response? "Get that thing in a f***ing can and get it the hell out of here!"

Times were tough. Right from his arrival in Hollywood, the parts hadn't come but the kids had. And the family had moved into an $18,500 house in the Hollywood Hills that had to be paid for. Fortunately, Ford had a lucrative sideline. Something had had to change, and it happened in an antique shop. Ford was there with his friend Earl McGrath, when McGrath decided to buy two tables at $1100 each. Don't do it, says Ford, I'll make you two for $200 a piece. McGrath bought Ford $400 worth of tools to do the job, and waited. It never would be done, though years later Ford did present him with an antique table.

What McGrath had inadvertently done was set Ford up in business. Very soon, a recording engineer friend of Ford's told him that Brazilian composer Sergio Mendes wanted a studio built. Harrison applied for the job and, such was the intelligence of his suggestions, he got the job. Mendes never asked if he'd done anything like it before. So Ford ended up sat on the roof, hammering away and, in his spare moments, devouring carpentry books he'd taken out of Encino Library.

Incredibly, he did a great job. Recommended by Mendes and using his own cinema contacts, he kept the work coming. He worked for his friend Joan Didion, made a deck for Sally Kellerman, who dubbed him "Carpenter to the Stars". He still went to parties, met with producers and directors, still took the odd role, but carpentry meant he wasn't beholden to the studios, he didn't have to keep doing bad work. He'd continue with it right up until Star Wars, ten years in all.

Before this, though, there would be flirtations with fame. In 1972, Fred Roos, a producer who believed in his abilities, got him cast in a new picture by a young director named George Lucas. Called American Graffiti, it concerned one crazy summer night in the lives of High School graduates about to step into the big, bad world. Newcomers Richard Dreyfuss and Ron Howard were to star, with Paul LeMat as an older friend who loves to cruise the strip and drag-race his car. Harrison was to be Bob Falfa, a renegade hot-rodder who takes LeMat on and is beating him when he turns his car over (the car being the same '55 Chevy they used in James Taylor's Two Lane Blacktop).

Ford was offered $485 a week for American Graffiti, and turned it down as he was making twice that as a carpenter. They upped it to $500, so he took it. After all, it was a small budget. So small that Ford found himself berated for taking two doughnuts one lunch-time.

Other than this, it was a great experience. For the first time, Ford found himself listened to, rather than accused of being difficult. They wanted him to cut his hair to stand out from the other kids. He refused, but suggested a white cowboy hat. Lucas agreed. Then Lucas wanted expand Ford's role by having him sing a song. He was a friend of Don Everly, so he tried an Everly Brothers song. No good. Then he tried Some Enchanted Evening. This was REALLY bad, he got the words wrong and everything. Everyone hated it. Except Lucas, who added it to the movie's final cut.

American Graffiti would be a huge hit in 1973, making $55 million on a budget of $750,000, the biggest profit margin in history. George Lucas was on his way. Ford still had struggling to do. Off he went to audition for Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation. Here, troubled surveillance expert Gene Hackman is hired by corporate big-wig Robert Duvall to spy on a couple. Turns out they're Duvall's young wife and her lover, played by Frederic Forrest - and, much to Hackman's consternation, they're going to get murdered.

Harrison was up for the Forrest role, but didn't get it. Instead, he was told Coppola would write a part for him. He became Duvall's sinister assistant Martin Stett. Deciding that his character ought to be gay (not something often seen in movies then), he went out and bought a pool table-green flannel suit for $900. On seeing him, Coppola asked what the hell was going on. Ford explained and Coppola loved it, Stett becoming a shady, dangerous figure in the background. The Conversation would turn out to be one of the Seventies' finest movies.

Next came Judgement: The Court Martial Of Lieutenant William Calley. The part of Calley was already taken, but Ford was told he could have any other part. Typically, he chose the most difficult, as Frank Crowder, a young enlisted man who's principal witness against Calley and traumatised by the experience.

After this came the epic Dynasty, based on a James Michener book concerning the battles of a pioneering 1800s family on the Ohio frontier, Harrison playing alongside Sarah Miles, Stacy Keach and Amy Irving. Then there was ThePossessed, an Exorcist rip-off intended to launch a series starring James Franciscus. The demons here were bothering a girls' school, Ford playing a science teacher who's having an affair with one of the pupils (as he would, two decades later, in What Lies Beneath).

But Harrison didn't seem to be going anywhere. For the first ten years of his career he'd seldom found what he'd wanted, that intensity of working with tight groups of creative people. He was still, basically, a carpenter to the stars. Yet this, amazingly, proved his making. One day, he was building a doorway in Coppola's HQ when George Lucas passed by. Noting this waste of talent, he asked Ford to come and read for a little movie he was putting together - Star Wars.

Lucas wasn't thinking of Ford for the part of Han Solo, cynical space smuggler turned reluctant hero. He preferred Kurt Russell, or Nick Nolte, or Christopher Walken. But as Ford read for the other parts, Lucas realised he had his Solo. So Harrison took his chances in a galaxy far, far away, and the rest is history.

Kind of. There was to be yet more work before Harrison became a bankable lead. For a start, there was Apocalypse Now. Having liked his work on The Conversation, Coppola gave Ford a small role in his Vietnam/ Heart Of Darkness epic (as Colonel G. Lucas - ho ho ho). It was a legendarily tough shoot, and the movie would not be released for another three years, but Harrison did meet Coppola's young assistant, Melissa Mathison. She'd soon write The Black Stallion for Coppola's Zoetrope company, and then pen ET for Spielberg. Ford's marriage to Mary Marquardt, meanwhile, was falling apart.

It was a strange, up-and-down time. After Star Wars came Heroes, a comedy drama where Henry "The Fonz" Winkler played a disturbed Vietnam vet who plans to open a worm farm for fisherman, along with some of his vet buddies, including Harrison. Then there was Force Ten From Navarone where he played the leader of a mismatched team sent to blow up a bridge in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia. The location shooting proved more than his marriage could stand. "The cinema separated us," Harrison would say "and I will never forgive it for that". He and Mary would divorce in 1979.

That same year Apocalypse Now was finally released, as was More American Graffiti, penned by Lucas, in which Ford had a brief cameo. Then there was Robert Aldrich's comedy western The Frisco Kid, where Gene Wilder played a Polish rabbi trying to reach his San Francisco synagogue. On the way across the west, he meets and befriends bank robber Ford and the pair endure the usual Wilder-style adventures. The Seventies would close for Harrison with his first romantic lead role, in Hanover Street. Here he played a US pilot in wartime London who falls for nurse Lesley-Anne Down. When he's shot down behind enemy lines with another guy, he comes to realise that the fellow is actually his lover's husband.

The Eighties set Harrison on an incredible run of success. First he returned to Han Solo, this time captured by Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. Then came his second franchise, with Raiders Of The Lost Ark, again written by Lucas and directed by Steven Spielberg. It was an absolute classic, an incredibly exciting tale of spies, treasure hunters and evil Nazis, with a real thirties feel. And Ford was tremendous as Indiana Jones, all whips and wisecracks. He was now, at last, a huge star.

And, as with his earlier Columbia contract, it might so easily never have happened. Tom Selleck was Spielberg's first choice, but he was committed to Magnum PI and so missed out. Nick Nolte turned it down - meaning he could have been both Han Solo AND Indiana Jones.

There was flukey greatness within the movie, too. Remember the scene where Jones is approached by an enormous eastern warrior who tries to intimidate him with a complex routine with his huge scimitar, only for Indiana to pull out his gun and shoot him with that "Oh, for God's sake" expression on his face? That was supposed to be a big fight sequence but, because Harrison was suffering from diarrhoea that day, he tried something quicker. The crew laughed - it was in.

Many of the action scenes, though, were exactly as intended. Ford was, in fact, dragged behind that truck for real. When asked if he was worried that it was dangerous, he said no - if it was really dangerous they'd have filmed more of the movie first. He would smash up his left knee quite badly, nevertheless, to add to the broken teeth he received when he fell on his gun during a stunt on TV. Later, on The Fugitive, his right knee would get it. By 2002, he had also herniated two discs and separated his shoulder. It's a hard life, saving the world.

Harrison's next major part, in 1982, was to have been in Spielberg's ET as the school principal, but Spielberg thought his presence would be too distracting, so cut him out. Ford contented himself with, the next year, marrying ET's writer, Melissa Mathison. The pair would be together until 2001, producing another two kids - Malcolm and Georgia.

Who cared about ET anyway? Ford was back immediately in an infinitely superior sci-fi piece, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. Here he was brilliantly focused and harassed as Deckard, the man charged with hunting down Rutger Hauer and his crew of renegade replicants. It wasn't a big money-spinner but it was one of the best movies of the decade.

After this, it was on to ever-greater heights. First he was imprisoned by Jabba The Hutt in another Star Wars episode, The Return Of The Jedi (his marriage to Princess Leia was cut from the end). Then he got involved with a particularly unpleasant thuggee cult in Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, the finest of the Indie movies.

There were, of course, those who believed Ford couldn't cut it away from the Han Solo and Indiana Jones characters. He proved them wrong instantly with Peter Weir's Witness. Here he played Philadelphia cop John Book who must protect a young Amish boy who's the only witness to a mob murder. Problematically for Book, he must enter the boy's other-worldly community, all the while waiting for the killers to come.

It was another major hit, with Ford Oscar-nominated for the first and only time. But he now needed a challenge and found one by sticking with Weir for The Mosquito Coast. Here he played eccentric inventor Allie Fox, who takes his wife (Helen Mirren) and son (River Phoenix) off in search of paradise in the Central American jungle. Conflicts, naturally, arise. It was a thoughtful film, with Harrison putting in his best non-action performance since The Conversation (being Golden Globe-nominated for his pains), but not a smash. It remains, however, one of Ford's personal favourites.
His friends, meanwhile, noting how Fox takes his family away from civilisation and refuses to live amidst the rat-race, reckoned the movie could have been called The Harrison Ford Story.

. Staying away from action, next he was off to Paris to work with Roman Polanski on Frantic. This was an excellent paranoid thriller, with Ford as a doctor who, visiting Paris for a conference, has his wife mysteriously disappear while showering. He can't speak French, the authorities won't help, so he has to scour the capital's punky, drug-ridden underground himself.

Next he tried comedy, very successfully, with Mike Nichols' Working Girl. Here ripped-off secretary Melanie Griffith pretends to be her boss (Sigourney Weaver) and teams up with financial broker Harrison to push through a big deal. Then Weaver returns...

1989 saw Harrison take up his whip once more in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, this time with Sean Connery as his father, and former co-star River Phoenix as the young Indy. But The Mosquito Coast and Frantic had given Ford a taste for more difficult roles. Turning down the part of CIA agent Jack Ryan in Tom Clancy's The Hunt For Red October, he chose instead to play Rusty Sabich in the excellent Presumed Innocent. Here he was a prosecutor charged with the murder of his lover, Greta Scaachi, having to find the real killer AND deal with his wife, Bonnie Bedelia.

Presumed Innocent, like many of Ford's roles, saw him as a normal guy under abnormal pressure. His next picture took him even further down this route. Returning to Mike Nichols for Regarding Henry, he played a selfish lawyer shot in a hold-up. With a bullet in his brain, he loses all memory and must re-learn everything, particularly his role as husband and father - in the process becoming a far nicer person.

1992 saw him return to action movies and cement his position as Hollywood's number one star. Having turned down the part of Jack Ryan once, he now took it on with Patriot Games (Alec Baldwin having dropped out, not liking the script). Here, while in London, Ryan interferes with an IRA assassination attempt, bringing the wrath of IRA operative Sean Bean down on himself and his family (Anne Archer and Thora Birch). In the film's original trailer was the line "There's never been a terrorist attack on American soil" - it was left out of the theatrical release because it sounded like a dare.

The next year brought an immense hit with The Fugitive, where he reprised David Janssen's TV role as Dr Richard Kimble, accused of murdering his wife and trying to find the real, one-armed killer while avoiding the attentions of marshal Tommy Lee Jones. With extraordinarily spectacular SFX, it was one of the finest action flicks of recent years, earning Jones an Oscar and Ford a second Golden Globe nomination.

Next up was Clear And Present Danger, his second Jack Ryan movie. Here he found himself promoted to Deputy Director of Intelligence and caught up in a horrible political tangle involving Colombian drug cartels and undercover government operatives. Eventually, he must go down to South America himself and rescue a bunch of imprisoned agents.

Now stepping regularly away from the action genre, he tried his hand at romantic comedy with Sabrina, a remake of the Bogart/Holden/Audrey Hepburn classic. Here he was straight-laced businessman Linus Larrabee, who's keen to have his waistrel brother Greg Kinnear marry the daughter of a rival corporate type, thus creating a mighty empire. So, when Kinnear falls for Sabrina, the chauffeur's daughter (Julia Ormond), Linus decides to get her out of the picture by romancing her himself - with predictable complications.

It was during filming Sabrina that Harrison took to the air. He'd begun riding big motorcycles at the age of 45, explaining that he'd finally begun to trust himself (well, the scar on his chin must have been an everyday reminder of irresponsibility). Now Sabrina's director Sydney Pollack began to goad him into flying his own plane. He'd already got a handle on piloting while at college in 1962 but, at $15 an hour, it was too expensive. Years later, he'd picked up more rudiments by sitting upfront when flying in Gulfstream jets, watching the captain. Now he asked his pilot to obtain an instructor's licence and show him the ropes. Before long, Harrison (or rather November 1128 Sierra) was himself flying a Gulfstream, as well as a Beaver, a Bonanza and a Bell LongRanger helicopter. Lucky for some that he was. In 2000, he used his helicopter to save 20-year-old Sarah George when she was dying of dehydration on Table Mountain, near Jackson Hole in Wyoming, where Ford has owned a ranch since 1985.

Sabrina won Ford another Golden Globe nomination, and he moved on to The Devil's Own. Brad Pitt was already onboard, as a young IRA terrorist, in America to buy guns and staying with an older New York cop who comes to suspect something is up. The script that attracted Pitt had him as a soldier and freedom fighter, the movie being something of an advert for the IRA. With Harrison onboard, that changed. With his motto "There is no limit to Better", he set about changing things, much to Pitt's chagrin. Brad even considered walking out, claiming the movie was no longer the one he'd signed on for, but he was threatened with a $63 million suit if he did. In the end he just slagged it off afterwards.

Neither Sabrina nor The Devil's Own set the box-office alight. Harrison needed a smash to maintain his pre-eminent position, and he found it in Air Force One. Here (at last) he played the US President, but a Pres with a difference. This one's an ex-soldier still more than capable of kicking ass when pushed around.
And pushed around he is, when Gary Oldman and a gang of ruffians from some ex-Soviet state hijack his airplane and demand the release of their beloved General Redek (Jurgen Prochnow). Sadly for them, they believe Ford has escaped in a safety-pod. Even more sadly for them, he's actually hiding in the hold, preparing to boot them into oblivion. With Oldman on top psychotic form and Ford at his most heroically battered, the movie was another monster.

. Harrison ended the Nineties with two medium successes. In Six Days, Seven Nights he played a drunken pilot who, while flying journalist Anne Heche to a job, crashes on a remote South Seas island. As they hate each other, survival is tough - but things change%u2026 After this came the emotionally charged Random Hearts. Here Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas both lose their loved ones in a plane crash. Being a cop, and heartbroken, Ford does some investigating and discovers that his wife was having an affair with Thomas's husband, the revelation drawing the couple closer together. It was another of those parts Ford plays so well - hurt, harried and desperate for the truth, just as he'd played in Frantic.

Around now, he was turning down parts left, right and centre. Proof Of Life, The Perfect Storm, The Patriot, Traffic, all were offered to him. Indeed, being Harrison Ford, most things are. But he wanted something new, and something he hadn't done in many years was play a genuinely bad guy. He did this now in Robert Zemeckis's supernatural thriller What Lies Beneath. Here he was Dr Norman Spencer, a college professor who's been having an affair with one of his pupils, behind the back of his wife, Michelle Pfeiffer. He seems like a nice guy, he SEEMS like Harrison. But once Pfeiffer has been terrified then led to the truth by a series of horrific apparitions, he becomes something entirely different. Gratifyingly different, really. It was certainly another arrow in his quiver.

Having turned down The Hunt For Red October 12 years before, 2002 finally saw Harrison in a submarine, when he played Captain Alexei Vostrikov in K-19: The Widowmaker. Directed by Kathryn 'Point Break' Bigelow and co-starring Liam Neeson, this concerned the malfunctioning of Russia's first nuclear sub. It was an interesting movie, not least because it had American film-makers showing sympathy for the old enemy. It would be followed by Hollywood Homicide, where two LA cops investigated the onstage murder of a rap group. One of them, Ford, was an old hand who's actually more interested in his failing real estate business, while the other, Josh Hartnett, was a wannabe actor, forcing his reluctant partner to help him with his lines. With fine dialogue and some excellent chase scenes, it was a more than adequate roustabout and, with Ford up against Hartnett, it was a clear collision of Hollywood old and new.

By 2000, Harrison had separated from his wife Melissa Mathison. When the divorce was finalised in 2004 it would be the most expensive in Hollywood history, with Mathison receiving some $90 million. Ford was seen out with Minnie Driver and Lara Flynn Boyle, then enjoyed a more long-term relationship with Calista Flockhart, whom he'd met at the Golden Globes in 2002. Pictured in public regularly for the first time in years, he wasn't happy, valuing anonymity above most things. 'The loss of anonymity is something nobody can prepare you for,' he once said. 'When it happened, I recognised that I'd lost one of the most valuable things in life. To this day, I'm not very happy about it'.

Having decided to so radically change his life as he neared sixty, Ford was now spending most of his time with Flockhart, hardly even keeping to his one-movie-a-year schedule. 2004 would see him only in the snowboarding short Water To Wine, where he popped up as a bus driver (he did this as a favour to son Malcolm, who appeared as one of the snowboarders). 2006, though, would bring Firewall, where Ford played a security manager at a bank who has to steal $100 million when his family is kidnapped by cruel Brit crim Paul Bettany. Once again we'd see Ford struggling to restrain his anger as he tries to figure out a way to foil the swine and save his wife and kids.

Harrison Ford uses his power for the general good in a way few Hollywood stars can match. Working with Conservation International, alongside BP, Starbucks, Bank Of America etc, he's organised the purchase or corraling of 1.4% of Earth's landbase for use as national parks. In South America alone, there are four parks the size of California. He also works for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

And he does stuff for himself, too. Aside from the bikes and planes and regular canal holidays in Britain, he has an enviable art collection (though he's said he's no fanatic, and stops when he runs out of wall-space). But he's not one for using his name to jump queues, never has been.

With Indiana Jones 4 on the cards after years of rumours and rejected scripts, Harrison Ford will be at the top of the heap for some time to come. Perhaps soon, like those other 'low-grade' action stars Spielberg and Eastwood, he will be honoured by his peers at the Oscars. It could happen. He's already been given a Special Cecil B. DeMille Golden Globe, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute (previous winners James Stewart, Bette Davis, James Cagney, Henry Fonda). Maybe it ought to happen. Hollywood being obsessed with money, there are 6 billion reasons why.

Dominic Wills

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Gallery

  • CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 04:  Actor Harrison Ford accepts the Most Man-Ticipated Movie award onstage during Spike TV's 5th annual 2011 "Guys Choice" Awards at Sony Pictures Studios on June 4, 2011 in Culver City, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
    Spike TV's 5th Annual 2011 "Guys Choice" Awards - Show
    CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 04: Actor Harrison Ford accepts the Most Man-Ticipated Movie award onstage during Spike TV's 5th annual 2011 "Guys Choice" Awards at Sony Pictures Studios on June 4, 2011 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
  • CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 04:  Actor Harrison Ford accepts the Most Man-Ticipated Movie award onstage during Spike TV's 5th annual 2011 "Guys Choice" Awards at Sony Pictures Studios on June 4, 2011 in Culver City, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
    Spike TV's 5th Annual 2011 "Guys Choice" Awards - Show
    CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 04: Actor Harrison Ford accepts the Most Man-Ticipated Movie award onstage during Spike TV's 5th annual 2011 "Guys Choice" Awards at Sony Pictures Studios on June 4, 2011 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
  • BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 10:  Actors Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart  arrive at the Alliance For Children's Rights Annual Dinner Gala at the Beverly Hilton on March 10, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
    Alliance For Children's Rights Annual Dinner Gala - Arrivals
    BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 10: Actors Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart arrive at the Alliance For Children's Rights Annual Dinner Gala at the Beverly Hilton on March 10, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
  • BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 10: Actors Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart  arrive at the Alliance For Children's Rights Annual Dinner Gala at the Beverly Hilton on March 10, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
    Alliance For Children's Rights Annual Dinner Gala - Arrivals
    BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 10: Actors Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart arrive at the Alliance For Children's Rights Annual Dinner Gala at the Beverly Hilton on March 10, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Actror Harrison Ford attends the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Actror Harrison Ford attends the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Actror Harrison Ford attends the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Actror Harrison Ford attends the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Actror Harrison Ford attends the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Actror Harrison Ford attends the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Director Roger Michell (L) poses with actors Rachel Mc Adams (C) and Harrison Ford (R) during the Photocall for" Morning Glory"  at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Director Roger Michell (L) poses with actors Rachel Mc Adams (C) and Harrison Ford (R) during the Photocall for" Morning Glory" at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Actor Harrison Ford attends the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Actor Harrison Ford attends the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Director Roger Michell (L) poses with actrors Rachel Mc Adams (C) and Harrison Ford (R) during the Photocall for" Morning Glory"  at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Director Roger Michell (L) poses with actrors Rachel Mc Adams (C) and Harrison Ford (R) during the Photocall for" Morning Glory" at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Director Roger Michell (L) poses with actrors Rachel Mc Adams (C) and Harrison Ford (R) during the Photocall for" Morning Glory"  at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Director Roger Michell (L) poses with actrors Rachel Mc Adams (C) and Harrison Ford (R) during the Photocall for" Morning Glory" at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Actrors Rachel Mc Adams (L) and Harrison Ford (R) attend the Photocall for" Morning Glory"  at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Actrors Rachel Mc Adams (L) and Harrison Ford (R) attend the Photocall for" Morning Glory" at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Actrors Rachel Mc Adams (L) and Harrison Ford (R) attend the Photocall for" Morning Glory"  at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Actrors Rachel Mc Adams (L) and Harrison Ford (R) attend the Photocall for" Morning Glory" at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Actror Harrison Ford attends the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Actror Harrison Ford attends the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Actror Harrison Ford attends the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Actror Harrison Ford attends the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Actors Rachel Mc Adams (L) and Harrison Ford (R) arrive to attend the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Actors Rachel Mc Adams (L) and Harrison Ford (R) arrive to attend the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Actrors Rachel Mc Adams (L) and Harrison Ford (R) attend the Photocall for " Morning Glory" at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Actrors Rachel Mc Adams (L) and Harrison Ford (R) attend the Photocall for " Morning Glory" at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Actors Rachel McAdams and Harrison Ford attend the Photocall for" Morning Glory" at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Actors Rachel McAdams and Harrison Ford attend the Photocall for" Morning Glory" at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Actors Rachel McAdams and Harrison Ford attend the Photocall for" Morning Glory" at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Actors Rachel McAdams and Harrison Ford attend the Photocall for" Morning Glory" at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14:  Actors Rachel Mc Adams (L) and Harrison Ford (R) arrive to attend the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
    'Morning Glory' Paris Photocall
    PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 14: Actors Rachel Mc Adams (L) and Harrison Ford (R) arrive to attend the Photocall for the" Morning Glory" film at Hotel Meurice on January 14, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
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