I am deeply and sincerely concerned with Harrison's movie career; when I was young, he was my favorite actor, all categories. And it is right there that the problem lies, and I think I share this with the other concerned noders:

Harrison Ford does not want to make children's movies anymore.

We just have to deal with it. Without using IMDB, I will try to remember his films and analyze the choices he made in his career. (I wrote the list, then checked that I got the films in correct order - which I had not. I did miss out a few films, as you may notice)

  • American Graffiti - First major film, somewhat of a breakthrough. The film was a success, but I don't think Harrison's effort was overly impressive. Nevertheless, I think this is when he really got the taste for it.
  • Star Wars - No comments needed, really. Imagine being young and making a movie like this...Wow!
  • Force 10 from Navarone and some other film. Just trying to get going after Star Wars. He can probably be a bit picky with his parts now.
  • The Empire Strikes Back - Returning to the Han Solo part, enjoying it immensely.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark - This part he got after Tom Selleck turned it down. Now he's starting to create a real name for himself. Picking major roles in major releases. Still, the movies cater to the young audience, being superficial and silly. The films, not the audience, necessary.
  • Blade Runner - This is the first step in a new direction. A more complex and challenging role to play. I wonder if Harrison knew that he was playing a replicant, as Ridley Scott revealed recently. Anyhow, trying to become a more respected actor, this is a clear step away from Indiana Jones, although not a far one.
  • The Return of the Jedi - I think he had a good time doing Han again, although he probably enjoyed the money and the fame more than the part itself.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - A bad choice, I'd say. I have no idea why he chose to do this, but the money keeps rolling in, I guess. This has to be on Spieldberg's Top-5 Worst-list. I think he wanted to work with Steven Spieldberg.
  • Witness - My absolute favorite of his films. By far. This is the first major role where he's playing an ordinary guy of today's society. He really is the perfect fit for "the regular guy"-parts. He really struggles to show a profound and living person, and I think he manages pretty well. Given that he only has two maybe three expressions, this is the movie where you get to see them all!
  • The Mosquito Coast - Crappy film, yes, but a rational choice for Harrison Ford right now. He's fed up with playing Han, Indiana etc. He wants to act. He wants to portray real people.
  • Frantic - The perfect role for Harrison, in my opinion. In this Roman Polanski thriller he plays the regular guy fighting the unknown, doing it just like you and me would. In this movie he has one facial expression throughout the whole two hours; anger combined with surprise. Perfectly logical to pick this role, working with an internationally respected film maker.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - A funny movie to see, and to make as well, I imagine. A bit reluctant probably, but it's work. After this he said he'd never, ever do another Indy film. Well, it looks like that was not the case...
  • Presumed Innocent and Regarding Henry - Presumed Innocent is the same role as in Frantic; a regular guy fighting something unknown and unfair. Definitely a movie for grown-ups...as is Henry. That makes it five films for adults versus one for the kids, or the kids in the adults. See a pattern ?
  • Patriot Games - An interesting choice, really, and the start of a new direction. Alec Baldwin blew his chance as Jack Ryan and they needed someone else. This is really right down Harrison's alley remember ? The ordinary guy...He gets the chance to make high-profile movies that are not fantasy or science fiction. His first real mainstream contemporary action movie.
  • The Fugitive - The ordinary guy revisited. Same thing as Patriot Games. Everybody knows that this is what Harrison does and they love it. Harrison now can carry a major release entirely by himself.
  • Clear and Present Danger - Third straight in the same genre. He's getting the really big bucks now, and he likes that. From an acting perspective I think he liked doing the Henry-like movies more, but this really the direction if you want respect in Hollywood.
  • The Devil's Own - Haven't seen this. I think he was trying to pick the roles a bit more carefully now, looking for more intelligent, less explosives kind of roles.
  • Air Force One - Back to the old bread and butter role, portraying an ordinary guy kinda president. From a Hollywood perspective, you don't get bigger than this. Compare to Bruce Willis, Kevin Costner and Sylvester Stallone that also used to be making meaningless blockbusters that everyone saw.
  • Six Days, Seven Nights - Quite unnecessary movie this. It was probably thought to be a blockbuster, but didn't quite succeed. Why did he chose to make this film...I don't know. Anyhow, it is clearly targeted against a more mature audience.
  • Random Hearts - Again turning to an acclaimed film maker - Sydney Pollack - in order to profile himself as an actor of characters. We all know what character he can portray, and he is really limited to the regular guy. However, a clear step away from Air Force One movies.
  • What Lies Beneath - This his latest pick, is very logical and even successful and at the same time a development. He manages to put together a more complex character than ever before, and for once you don't think that it's Harrison Ford on the screen. This Alfred Hitchcock type movie is exactly what he want to do now. With this, it has become obvious that he wants to be the James Stewart of the 21st century.

See, from the early parts as fantasy action hero, through some contemporary films and then the action blockbusters, he has reached a point where he can pick good scripts with interesting parts within reach for his abilities. He wants to make movies for people who go for the movie itself and pay their tickets themselves. I think we've lost him as the Han/Indy/Jack guy, and will see more of him in films in the spirit of these three latest films I've listed. I think we will see him in more James Stewart-like roles in the future.

In writing this, I realize that I've forgotten Working Girl, where he plays against - among others - Sigourney Weaver. Just change the names of the films, and put her name instead of Harrison's and you have a writeup that is probably quite accurate... On another note, we all wonder when he will toss that stupid toupé.

Update: I turns out that the next film he's doing is a mega-bang-blockbuster-action flick. He's getting paid $1.250.000 per day! 'nuff said about that!

Note: Part of this was in response to a now deleted write-up. The write-up in question implied that actors have no choice in the roles they play. The italicized text below is from that write-up.

That said, Harrison Ford does not choose the movies he is in. It does not work that way in Hollywood. It is the casting directors who choose actors for movies, though in the case of a famous actor, such as Harrison Ford, it can be the director or even the producer who picks him.

The only choice an actor has is to go to an audition or not to go. However, not going to an audition equals to a professional suicide. Hollywood auditions are not open to the public. The actor's agent works hard to get the actor to be even allowed to audition. An actor who misses a couple of auditions may as well say good-bye to the movies.

That includes stars. In Hollywood one day you may be a star, the next day you may be a has-been.

This is so patently untrue it's almost funny. If you're talking about struggling-actor-Joe-Nobody, then yeah, the agent busts his ass to get the audition, and the actor takes any job he can find... be it summer blockbuster or hemorrhoid cream ad. However... any A-list actor in Hollywood (and this includes Harrison Ford) can choose whatever role he or she wants. Not only that, but they can demand whatever salary they want. I don't know where you got the above idea, but here's how it works...

A studio obtains rights to a film. In some cases, it's the director or producer that has the rights, but unless you're an indie film developer, you need a studio to fund your picture. It then undergoes a long, drawn out period of development, where screenwriters edit the script, and preliminary copies of the script are distributed to potential actors and directors. Not directly to the actors or directors, mind you, but to the agents of those actors and directors. The agents pass on scripts to their clients, who can decide whether or not they are interested. James Woods fired his agent after he failed to receive a script for Reservoir Dogs... his agent felt that the salary offered to Woods for the picture was insulting, so he didn't even bother to pass it on.

Directors and producers can express an interest in who they want for certain parts, but that by no means requires an audition. Ridley Scott wanted Dustin Hoffman for the part of Blade Runner's Deckard. Hoffman wasn't interested (note: this didn't exactly amount to 'professional suicide'). Harrison Ford was chosen instead. And everyone knows how Ford got his part in Star Wars -- George Lucas was one Han Solo short for his ensemble cast audition, and asked a nearby carpenter to stand in. It just happened to be Harrison Ford. Burt Reynolds was allegedly tapped to play Han Solo, but he dropped out to do Smokey And The Bandit.

Once a director, film crew, and a relatively solid cast are selected, the film is greenlighted. Principal photography, special effects, soundtracking, promotion, and editing begin. A release date is set and trailers are released. If someone walks out at THIS point, it could be considered professional suicide. Still, it didn't stop director Kevin Reynolds from walking away from Waterworld.

The point is, good actors have their choice of roles. Rumor has it that Leonardo DiCaprio had over 200 movie offers after Titanic (why he chose The Beach is anyone's guess). Don't let anyone fool you... Harrison Ford is directly responsible for the roles he chooses. In the past couple of years, he's turned down Proof Of Life (which went to Russell Crowe), The Perfect Storm (which went to George Clooney), and The Patriot (which went to Mel Gibson).

As for why he's turning down these roles? I don't know... maybe it's because he's pushing sixty, and he's trying to make a career turn away from full-blown action hero?

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