Harrison Ford, you had us at Han Solo. And Indiana Jones, Jack Ryan, Dr. Richard Kimble and Det. John Book.
And for Harrison Ford, today is a big day. Let’s see if Chewbacca is available because it’s time to celebrate birthday No. 79 for one of Hollywood’s all-time best. Indeed, may the force be with you and Ford on this special day.
Ford could play it all in his career. Yet it’s difficult to believe his career took a while to take off. That’s why he worked as a carpenter to better support his wife and two sons in between guest-starring roles in shows like Gunsmoke, Kung Ku and Love American Style.
What Was First Big Role for Harrison Ford? Hint, He Drove a Chevy
His big break came in American Graffiti, George Lucas’ first big project. This was in 1973. Harrison Ford was a charismatic Bob Falfa, the out-of-towner who raced his black Chevy in one of the movie’s key scenes.
Then came Star Wars. And Lucas needed to be talked into casting Harrison Ford as Han Solo. Lucas had a rule that he didn’t want to cast anyone from a previous movie. Fred Roos, who was a Hollywood casting director, was a big fan of Ford’s. And Ford even had done some carpentry work for him. So Roos hired Ford to build a door for him so he could accidentally (by design) run into Lucas during a Star Wars casting call.
“Harrison had done a lot of carpentry for me…He needed money, he had kids, he wasn’t a big movie star yet,” Roos said of Harrison Ford in an interview earlier this year. “The day he was doing it, George happened to be there. It was serendipitous.”
That’s how Ford became Han Solo, the crusty, but handsome scoundrel who joined Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) to tell one of the biggest tales unfolding in a galaxy far, far away.
Remember the first time Han Solo brought up the Force with Luke? “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
But eventually, Harrison Ford as Han Solo says: “I used to wonder about that myself. Thought it was a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. A magical power holding together good and evil, the dark side and the light? Crazy thing is, it’s true. The Force, the Jedi — all of it. It’s all true.”
With Star Wars Franchise Still Filming, Ford Landed Another Iconic Role
While Harrison Ford still was playing Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise, he also became a part of another blockbuster set of films.
Tom Selleck likes to tell the story about how he was supposed to be Indiana Jones, if not for his commitment to Magnum P.I. But Ford landed the role and played it to perfection.
While Stars Wars was set in the faraway future, the Indiana Jones movies were in the recent past. The first was Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981. He played an archaeologist, who traveled the world solving the greatest international mysteries. Snakes were about the only animal that scared Indiana. Swords didn’t intimidate him.
Check out this iconic scene.
Harrison Ford, at age 79, is approaching $10 billion box-office club for all his movies. Count on that number to swell.
Ford currently is filming a fifth Indiana Jones movie. It’s expected in theaters next year.
So Happy Birthday, Harrison Ford.