When you think of Harrison Ford, you automatically believe Han Solo or Indiana Jones, two of the most iconic roles in American cinema and the actual launchers of Harrison Ford’s acting career. But despite these roles being iconic and unforgettable, it must be noted that he has played more roles throughout his career than anyone can count. He started with uncredited roles in the 60s and became one of the highest-paid actors in America’s cinema history.
The world is lucky to have someone like Ford grace it with his talent since the 60s and up to this day and age. In a world of internet-famous people and singers turned actors, a true gem like Ford only burns brighter, and his iconic roles throughout his career are a testament to his cultural impact that will never be forgotten.
With his last Indiana Jones movie coming out very soon, we have to introduce you to the legend of Harrison Ford. Keep reading as we take a trip down his life and career and witness again the unique footprint he is leaving behind in cinema.
Where it all Started
Harrison Ford was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1942. His parents, Dorothy and John Ford, were a former radio actress and an advertisement executive. It can be said this his mother’s former career is what inspired Ford to share his voice with the public for the first time. He joined his high school’s radio programme, and when he graduated in 1960, his voice was the first voice to grace his high school broadcast channel.
Harrison was a shy child, and in an attempt to break through his shell, he took drama classes during his last year at Ripon College. Although he never graduated, these drama classes were the spark that Ford needed to start his acting career. 1964 as a college dropout, Harrison Ford moved from Illinois to Los Angels to chase his acting dreams.
His Career Begins
Harrison Ford is finally in Hollywood, but things are more challenging than they seem for the young actor. After signing a contract with Colombia Pictures, Ford played secondary roles in TV series such as The Virginian (1962) and Ironside (1967). Later he signed another contract with Universal Studios and played other secondary roles in TV series and movies. But these roles were not satisfying enough and did not take his career anywhere significant. Feeling discouraged and disappointed, Ford broke his contract with Universal Pictures and went on to pursue carpentry.
But carpentry wasn’t what Ford was destined to do, so Hollywood called his name again. This time, four years after his departure from Universal, Ford got his big break when he was cast as Bob Falfa in American Graffiti (1973). This role might not have put his name first in the call sheets, but it definitely was the start of his acting career. Six roles in movies and TV series, and four years later, Ford’s life changed forever!
In 1977, one of Harrison Ford’s most iconic characters was born. The Star Wars franchise begins with Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) and Ford as the leading character Han Solo. Whether Ford knew that or not, back in 1977, Han Solo was about to become an American cultural icon and beloved character all over the world.
It is safe to say that four might be Harrsion’s lucky number because four years after the release of Star Wars: A New Hope, Ford is about to hit the jackpot again. This time with Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Playing the adventurous title role of Indiana Jones, Ford’s blockbuster career is finally in full swing, and there is nothing stopping him from becoming one of the most famous actors in the world.
Remember when we said four might be Harrsion’s lucky number? Well, here is making another appearance. Four years after his Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Harrison Ford received his first and only Academy Award nomination for his role as John Book in Witness (1985). Even though Ford has yet to win an Academy Award, he will go on to win multiple other prestigious awards throughout his career, including Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, AFI Life Achievement Award and an Honorary Palme d’Or.
His Most Iconic Roles
Having been active for almost 60 years, Harrison Ford has a filmography only parallel by a limited number of actors. He has done movies in almost every genre in existence, from drama to comedy to action to adventure to Sci-Fi. Be it through movies or TV series; Ford proved himself as a seasoned actor over and over again and nowadays, no one can ever say that he did not make his due.
Let’s take a look at some of the movies that shaped Ford’s career and made him the cultural icon he is today.
The Star Wars Franchise
Evening though it’s a running joke among his fans that Harrison Ford does not like Star Wars or his role as Han Solo, it must be noted that this role is the reason we know Ford today. And to be perfectly honest, the reason Harrison might not be a big fan of Star Wars is definitely not the fault of the movie or his co-stars (whom he loves!) but the Star Wars fan base, which can sometimes be a little too intense.
Harrison’s iconic role as a cocky pilot Han Solo started with the first Star Wars movie: Star Wars: A New Hope, in 1977. His character, Han Solo, is the pilot of the spaceship The Millennium Falcon. Together with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamil), Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and the droids R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), Han Solo goes on an adventure to destroy the Empire’s battle station and save Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) from the clutches of the evil Darth Vader (David Prowse).
Ford went on to reprise his role as Han Solo in multiple Star Wars films as the franchise grew more significant and more prominent throughout the years. He starred alongside the original cast in the original Star Wars trilogy: Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983). He also voiced the character Han Solo in multiple side Star Wars projects.
Ford’s final time portraying Han Solo was in 2016 in the first movie in the newest Star Wars trilogy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For his final Star Wars hurrah, Han Solo is murdered at the hands of his own son Kylo Ren ending the era and starting a new one with new heroes and villains.
Han Solo is one of the most iconic characters in movie history, and no matter what Star Wars fans think he thinks about the character today, we are sure he enjoyed his wild ride as the cocky pilot and the love interest of no other than the iconic Princess Leia.
The Indiana Jones Franchise
In our humble opinion, Harrison Ford’s most beloved character is Indy from the Indiana Jones franchise. It also doesn’t hurt that Ford genuinely seems to love this character and enjoys his time anytime a reporter asks about Indiana Jones.
Harrison Ford first played the infamous Nazi puncher archaeologist in 1981 in Indiana Jones: Raiders of Lost Ark. The film, directed by Steven Spielberg, follows Indy, an archaeologist and adventures as he goes looking for the Ark of the Covenant to obtain it for the US government before the Nazis use it in their favour.
A fun fact from the movie is that the most iconic scene where Indy shoots a man instead of taking him up on his challenge of a sword fight was actually suggested by Ford as he was too sick to perform the stunt needed for the scene. He asked Spielberg if could just “shoot the sucker”, and Speilberg agreed!
Indiana Jones went on to have three more highly successful sequels: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). If anyone thought that Harrison Ford was done playing the cheeky and adventurous archaeologist, they had another thing coming when he announced a final movie coming out this year! Indiana Jones and the Dial Destiny (2023) will be Ford’s last time playing Indy (the man is 80 years old!), and we cannot wait to see what he has left in store.
The Blade Runner Franchise
Star Wars and Indiana Jones might be Ford’s most famous franchise roles, but he was also part of the futuristic Balde Runner franchise playing the leading character Rick Decker in Ridley Scott’s Balde Runner (1982) and later reprising his role in Denis Villeneuve’s sequel Blade Runner 2049 (2017).
When the first Blade Runner film was released, it divided critics. Some loved its futuristic theme and its use of high-tech, while others criticised it for its slow-paced action. Nowadays, though, Blade Runner is perceived as a cult classic. It has influenced many projects after it, including movies, TV series, video games and anime.
Taking a break from significant blockbuster roles, let’s talk about Harrison Ford’s Academy Award-nominated role in Witness (1985). Peter Weir’s neo-noir crime thriller film was released in 1985 and earned eight Academy Award nominations in 1986, including Best Picture and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Ford.
The movie follows Detective John Book (Ford) as he attempts to protect a child who witnessed a murder in Philadelphia. Detective Book joins the Amish community -which the child belongs to, in order to keep an eye on the Witness. The movie discusses the intersection of Amish and non-Amish people and is highly praised by critics and scholars such as David Weaver-Zercher for its portrayal of Amish culture.
Harrison Ford was highly praised for his “emotive and sympathetic performance”. His role as Detective John Book earned him his first Academy Award nomination, as well as a BAFTA and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.
Awards and Nominations
Throughout his almost 40 years old career, Harrison Ford has been the recipient of multiple awards and nominations. He received the Jupiter Award twice for Best International Actor for his role as Indiana Jones, MTV Movie Award for The Fugitive (1994) and three People’s Choice Awards for Favourite Motion Picture Actor in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Ford was nominated for an Academy Award, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe for acting but never had the honour of winning any of them.
Recognising his unparalleled achievements, Harrison Ford received multiple honorary and lifetime achievement awards in recent years. These awards include the AFI’s Life Achievement Award in 2000, the Golden Globe’s Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2002, the Lifetime Achievement Award from CinemaCon in 2013, and finally, an Honorary Palme d’Or from Cannes Film Festival in 2023.
At 80 years old, Harrison Ford is not showing any signs of retiring from acting just yet. As passionate as he was about acting at 30 years old, Ford is still booking high-profile projects left and right.
This year on June 23rd, Ford is releasing his fifth and final Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. This movie will mark the end of Indy’s adventures and maybe pass the torch to a new archaeologist/adventurer to continue this journey.
Last year, it was announced that Harrison Ford would be joining the MCU as Thaddeus Ross in Captain America’s latest film, Captain America: Brave New World, set to release in 2024. He will also be portraying the same characters in the MCU’s Thunderbolts, also set to release in 2024.
Harrison Ford is an icon. He is a gem of not just American cinema but of the whole world’s movie industry. He started from all the way down and clawed his way to international stardom. He will forever be etched in our brains with his iconic unforgettable roles, his sense of humour and his pure love for his craft. Some might say that Ford is too old to continue acting, but we say that he is just like fine wine; he only gets better with age.