‘Indiana Jones’ Star Harrison Ford Was a Self-Taught Carpenter, Continuing Even After ‘Star Wars’ Success

by Jon D. B.

While the Hollywood icon’s carpentry skills are well known, the exact details have been greatly exaggerated. Hear the how, when, and why’ of it all from the ‘Indiana Jones’ actor himself.

What’s that on the screen? It’s an archaeologist! It’s a smuggler! No, it’s legendary actor and lifelong carpenter, Harrison Ford! Any fan of either franchise knows – be it ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Indiana Jones’ (or countless other box-office smashes Ford headlines) – Ford took up carpentry by trade before he hit it big.

What most don’t know, however, is that his craftsmanship continued long into his days as a bonified Hollywood megastar – and still do to this day. This, too, is just the tip of the iceberg.

“When I was a carpenter, I once worked with this Russian lady architect. I would tell her, ‘Look, I’m terribly sorry, but I want to change that half an inch’. And she would say ‘No limit for better.’ I think that is a worthy credo,” Ford is quoted via Considerable.

Considerable‘s piece on the icon puts the spotlight on his carpentry workshop at his then-Mandeville Canyon, Beverley Hills- home in August of 1984. This is important for several reasons. Firstly, no “simple carpenter” affords a home in Beverley Hills. Which brings us to the principle fact: Ford was still elbows-deep in carpentry after starring in not just the first ‘Indiana Jones’ film – but the entire original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, as well.

Harrison Ford was a Professional Carpenter All Through ‘Star Wars’ and into ‘Indiana Jones’ Series

While Ford considers himself a “lifelong carpenter,” which is now absolutely true, he didn’t learn the trade as a child. Instead, the actor was self-taught in his twenties, while he was already chasing work in film. As is the case for many actors, however, it would be a long while before Ford made it big. And there to fill all those frustrating gaps was carpentry.

BEVERLY HILLS , CA – AUGUST 17, 1984: At home, Harrison Ford sits on table and chairs crafted with his own hands in Mandeville Canyon, Beverly Hills, California. ( Photo by Paul Harris/Getty Images )

In a move that would surprise literally all of Reddit collectively, Harrison Ford offered up an AMA Session (Ask Me Anything) to the platform six years ago. Within, he provided firsthand details as to how his carpentry-to-film-legend transition came about.

“How did you feel about Star Wars when you first started? How were you approached?” the top question reads.

“I was approached with the offer of a job, which at that point, was all I wanted to hear,” Ford began in the AMA. “I had helped George Lucas audition other actors for the principle parts, and with no expectation or indication that I might be considered for the part of Han, I was quite surprised when I was offered the part.”

“My principle job at the time was carpentry,” he continued. “I had been under contract as an actor at Columbia and Universal. I had a house at the time I wanted to remodel, a bit of the wreck of a house. I’d invest money in tools but wouldn’t have money for materials, so I realized this was another way of putting food on the table. And allowing me to pick and choose from the acting jobs that were being offered at the time.”

Ford and Jones are Quite Different

In fact, George Lucas met Ford while he was installing a wooden door at Francis Ford Coppola’s house. This led to his casting in Lucas’ first hit, ‘American Graffiti,’ which hit cinemas in 1973. From there, he would make it big (understatement of the galaxy) in ‘Star Wars,’ followed by ‘Indiana Jones’ and dozens of box office hits for decades to come.

Though if you’re wondering why Ford never played a carpenter in any of his most famous hits, there’s an easy answer. He’s an actor, sure, but the icon makes it clear in his AMA that his film roles and life at home are “two separate worlds.”

This does not, however, stop another top commenter from asking “how do you feel about snakes?”

“I actually like snakes!” Ford replies. “When I was young, I was a boy scout nature camp counselor, and one of our projects was collecting snakes and creating an environment for them, so I’m quite familiar with snakes and think they’re fantastic creatures.”

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