Harrison Ford ready for fifth Indiana Jones film
The Hollywood action hero, reduced to tears after a tribute at Deauville film festival, on his aircraft and bike collection
Harrison Ford shows no sign of settling into a comfortable, sedentary retirement. While most men his age are content to enjoy the odd round of golf, the 67-year-old star is preparing to step back into his khakis, crack that famous whip and tip his fedora for a fifth instalment of Indiana Jones.
“The story for the new Indiana Jones is in the process of taking form,” the Hollywood veteran revealed last week while guest of honour at the Deauville film festival in France. “Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and I are agreed on what the fifth adventure will concern, and George is actively at work. If the script is good, I’ll be very happy to put the costume on again.”
There are plenty of reasons Ford might be keen to sign up for a final fling with the adventurous archeologist. For a start it will mean another bumper pay packet. Ford topped the list of Hollywood earners this summer, reportedly netting more than $65m (£40m) and seeing off younger rivals to become the highest-earning actor of the past 12 months, thanks to the success of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which took nearly £500m at the box office.
It is almost three decades since Indie’s first outing in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but despite his age — or maybe because of it — Ford continues to push the boundaries on and off screen. When he is not pretending to be Jones or the intergalactic smuggler Han Solo in Star Wars, or any one of a number of hard-as-nails fugitives and straight-talking CIA analysts, you will most likely find him flying one of his many private jets or tearing up the asphalt on his BMW motorbike. So it came as something of a surprise last weekend when pictures emerged from Deauville showing the tough-guy actor, eyes clearly wet with tears, visibly moved by the proceedings.
True to his no-nonsense form, Ford had flown his fiancée, Calista Flockhart, their adopted son, Liam, and himself 6,500 miles across the Atlantic in one of his Cessna aircraft to be the festival’s guest of honour. But the glowing tribute, with clips from his box-office hits, was all too much for Ford, who, despite starring in almost 40 films since his breakthrough in Star Wars in 1977, has never won an Oscar.
“I was embarrassed by it all,” he admits sheepishly when we meet later, still uncomfortable about publicly losing his cool. “I look at acting as a service occupation. I am grateful that people are interested in my career. If they didn’t support my lifestyle, then I’d be back as a passenger on commercial airlines.
“All I’ve done is to try to get scripts that interest me and make sure I prepare as well as I possibly can. I enjoy the process of film-making. It’s not an art, to me. More like a craft. The rest? You’d never catch me volunteering to walk along a red carpet at a premiere. Or attending a party.”
Ford is at pains to portray himself as just a regular guy, although he’s self-aware enough to realise that most people probably won’t find the everyman shtick entirely convincing. “I do the dishes. And I make dinner,” he said at Deauville, adding, with a touch of dry humour: “In the mornings I get my eight-year-old son Liam ready for school, and then I pass my time flying around in my planes. You see, I’m just like anybody else. My children are between eight and 42 and I’m also a grandfather.”
The earring that appeared in his left lobe about 10 years ago continues to attract raised eyebrows and suggestions of a long-running midlife crisis but Ford is as fit as many men half his age, keeping his 5ft 11in frame trim with daily tennis sessions and three workouts a week in his gym. Paul Bettany, the 38-year-old British actor who had to wrestle him to the ground in the 2006 film Firewall, admitted: “It was like trying to grapple with a rock.”
When you spend time in Ford’s company, what comes across is a certain shyness — or perhaps it is self-protection after so many years in the spotlight. His words come low and slow, without obfuscation. He is clearly much happier talking about his hobbies — aircraft, motorbikes and carpentry — than he is pondering the nuances of acting, film sets and directors. “It is horribly embarrassing to admit, but I hardly ever go to the movies,” he says. “I honestly cannot even remember the last movie I saw.”
The son of two occasional actors, Ford moved from Wisconsin to Los Angeles in 1964 to pursue an acting career too, but by the early 1970s he was earning a living as a carpenter. It was while working in the homes of Tinseltown’s rich and famous that he came to the attention of an up-and-coming director called George Lucas and finally got his big break. Lucas cast him in a small but pivotal role in his 1973 film American Graffiti. Star Wars followed a few years later and, aged 35, Ford finally saw his career take off. Roles in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade Runner, Witness, The Fugitive and Clear and Present Danger followed, to name but a few. Ford was box-office gold. Carpentry became a hobby.
“It (woodwork) was a skill and a joy to me,” Ford says. He set up a carpentry workshop at the ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that he bought in 1983 and continued to build barns and make additions around the house. It has since fallen into disuse, though. “I don’t have the time now,” he says. “I have also lost my tool skills. Or at least some of them. I suppose flying took over as my main passion, and there are only so many hours in the day.”
Despite flirting with the idea of being a pilot in his twenties (he took some flying lessons in the 1960s) Ford did not become qualified until 30 years later. Since then, it has become an obsession. He has even spent some off-duty time in his Bell 407 helicopter helping the Teton county search and rescue services while staying at the Wyoming ranch and has rescued lost or disoriented hikers on a number of occasions. He confirms stories of two such mountain rescues with typical self-deprecating lines. “Such rescues happen on a regular basis, but there was publicity because it was me,” he says. “I wanted to do my share for the community. It was no more than that. I was never in danger.”
Ford keeps several aircraft at Santa Monica airport, near his main home in Los Angeles, including a Cessna Citation Sovereign and 208B Grand Caravan, a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, an Aviat Husky A-1B and a 1929 Waco Taperwing. “It is my only financial indulgence,” he says. “I have gone through several planes over the years. I am relatively frugal, considering my circumstances. I live well but do not live large — apart from the aeroplanes.
“When I say that the only suits I’ve ever owned in the past 25 years have come from movies, people smile as if it’s a joke. But it’s true. I look carefully at what I spend.”
He has spent handsomely on two divorces, though. The first, just as his career was going into overdrive, was in 1979, from Mary Marquardt, his college sweetheart, whom he had married in 1964. They have two sons, Benjamin, 42, and Willard, 40. He divorced Melissa Mathison, his second wife, in 2004. They had been married for 21 years and have a son, Malcolm, 22, and a 19-year-old daughter, Georgia.
He met Flockhart, 44, former star of the television series Ally McBeal, at the Golden Globes ceremony in 2002 and he took plenty of flak for setting up home with another woman so quickly after his second divorce. Press him on the latest situation with Flockhart, including rumours that a marriage date has been set, and he is unforthcoming. “I would rather not talk about that,” he says evenly. “It is no secret that we are having a very good time together.”
He admits that having a young boy around his house has led to some life changes. For a start, he has bought a car: he now owns a Toyota Prius as well as a garageful of motorbikes. “I always preferred the look of motorcycles,” he says. “But I did not trust myself with one until I was about 45 to 50. I was too much of an adolescent up to then, and anything could have happened.”
One of his greatest pleasures is now to ride, unrecognised, clad in leather and helmet, around the bends and canyons north of LA, just for the hell of it. “I go with a group of pilots and friends from the airport,” he says. “We get a kitchen pass every Sunday morning, and we just go riding.”
On my CD player
I like everything from the Rolling Stones to Hoagy Carmichael and from Simply Red to Bonnie Raitt. I have eclectic tastes.
On my DVD
Absolutely nothing. I only use it when I’m looking at the films of a director with whom I’m supposed to work. I have DVDs sent to me for the Oscar selection but — I probably shouldn’t say this — I don’t vote.
My favourite gadget
The Garmin 696 EFB, a GPS navigation device that I use in the cockpit for all my charts and maps.
My life in cars
Ford’s first set of wheels after leaving college in 1964
He bought this second-hand in 1967. It was the first model with a three-point seatbelt
BMW R 1200 GS
Ford took up motorbiking in his forties, and this BMW is his current favourite ride
Harrison Ford Says ‘Indiana Jones’ 5 Movie Is In Development