How Harrison Ford’s Breakout Role Nearly Went to Kevin Costner

by Liz Holland
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Harrison Ford has an impressively long Hollywood career, appearing in films and on TV since the 1960s. Many know Ford for his role as Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise, an iconic portrayal that has won Ford recognition across several generations of fans. However, Ford’s true breakout role was in the 1997 film, Air Force One. Ford portrayed the iconic President Marshall, a role that catapulted his career. Ford went on to star in several other action films as the leading man. Additionally, Ford was able to reprise roles in his later years that he portrayed in his youth. Except, this time, his name held a lot more star power. 

However, Harrison Ford didn’t get the “Air Force One” role in any traditional sense. Ford only got the role because fellow actor and action icon Kevin Costner gave it to him. In a 1997 interview with the Los Angeles Times, the actor explains how it all went down. “This was a script that Kevin Costner originally had and he gave it to me. Kevin knew this was a big commercial movie and his schedule didn’t allow him to do it. And he told [the producers] he would let it go only if I could do it. Now Kevin and I are not intimates. I’ve met him on a number of occasions and I like him very much. And, I like him a lot more now because he really threw a winner my way,” Ford said with a laugh.

Harrison Ford’s Presidential Role in ‘Air Force One’

Ironically enough, Ford met the real president at the time, Bill Clinton, shortly after he accepted the “Air Force One” role. According to Ford, the pair didn’t talk about what it takes to act presidential. Ford told the LA times he believes that “Air Force One” establishes that when his character, Marshall “gives his speech at the beginning before the Russians.”

Ford continues talking about that scene, saying, “It was a tense moment, a very short moment. But it was important. That speech had to be brief and bold and it was probably the most rewritten part because it had to establish the president’s authority and serve as an armature on which to build the rest of the plot. Every word, every bit of meter counted and it took a while before we got something that pleased us all.”

Surprisingly, his role in “Air Force One” was not the first one Ford fell into after another actor didn’t work out. For Han Solo, the role nearly went to Kurt Russel before casting directors eventually chose Ford. For the role of Indy in Indiana Jones, the role was offered by George Lucas to Tom Selleck– who had to turn it down because it conflicted with his work on Magnum, P.I. Ford was there to swoop up the role, which he is set to reprise in a 2023 Indiana Jones Film. When it comes to the part of President Marshall, Ford certainly crushed the role, as it opened up a plethora of new opportunities for him. Harrison Ford is still active in the entertainment industry today– and apparently we all have Kevin Costner to thank.

Outsider.com