Harrison Ford has a prolific career filled with iconic roles. Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Jack Ryan, and Jacob Dutton are career-defining parts. An actor would be lucky to just land one of those roles, but for Ford, they’re just the tip of the spear. However, the veteran star has also passed on roles that almost any actor would kill to get. Including one that eventually went to Yellowstone‘s Kevin Costner.
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Of course, an easy path to discovering roles Ford passed on is Steven Spielberg’s projects. Ford and Spielberg have had a professionally rewarding partnership throughout the years, boosting each other’s work to greater heights. After all, without Ford’s renowned portrayal of Indiana Jones, these classic movies wouldn’t be as iconic; similarly, it was Spielberg who initially gave Harrison his big break in film back in the day. Getting to play Indy helped Ford break away from Star Wars and cemented him as a star.
However, when Spielberg offered Ford the lead role in Schindler’s List (when went to Liam Neeson), he immediately declined. But his reason is so honorable and it has only made fans admire him more; Ford denied the advantageous offer because he thought his celebrity status would overshadow the significance and teachings of the true story.
Another Spielberg project Harrison Ford passed on
That same year, Spielberg offered Ford the lead in Jurassic Park, Dr. Alan Grant, which went to Sam Neill. The character of Dr. Grant almost appears to have been written specifically with Ford in mind given how he acts and moves throughout the movie. You can’t help but wonder if Spielberg deliberately crafted Grant’s mannerisms to embody a similar tone as Indy Jones—even Grant’s wardrobe is reminiscent of Indiana’s iconic look! Let’s face it, a paleontologist and an archaeologist are just a stone’s throw away from each other.
Slash Film reported that when Ford discussed the Indy movies with Spielberg, he pointed fingers at the director for only giving him those roles. However, knowing his worth in Hollywood and other projects out there, Spielberg reminded him of how he had declined Jurassic Park— leaving fans to wonder why. Ever so quickly though, Harrison moved on and did not allow any further investigations about this topic.
Kevin Costner and Harrison Ford swap two big roles
Another role that Ford passed on eventually went to Kevin Costner. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Ford was up for the part of top cop Elliot Ness in the 1987 gangster epic, The Untouchables. However, he decided to turn it down. This left the door open for Costner, who co-starred in the film with Ford’s eventually onscreen Indiana Jones father, Sean Connery.
However, eventually Kevin Costner returned the favor to Harrison Ford. Costner was the first choice to play President James Marshall in the “Diehard on a plane” action film, Air Force One.
“This was a script that Kevin Costner originally had and he gave it to me,” Ford told the Los Angeles Times in 1997. “Kevin knew this was a big commercial movie and his schedule didn’t allow him to do it. And I like him a lot more now because he really threw a winner my way,” he quipped.