ALL about… Harrison Ford

Andrew Hampp

Star discusses career, leading-man status in conference call


Credit: Carl Schierhorn

As far as movie stars go, they literally don’t get any bigger than Harrison Ford.

And as far as college conference calls go, they don’t get any more awkward than the one held last week between Ford and a group of college students from across the country to promote the star’s upcoming thriller, Firewall.

Take Eva Dameron, a reporter from the University of New Mexico, who was trying to hint at the hostage-themed plot of Ford’s new film when phrasing her question.

“Has this movie given you more empathy with criminals?” she asked.

Ford paused for a moment, then politely gave his reply in the gruff, movie-star voice of his that has become one of his trademarks.

“I don’t understand the question, Eva. Why don’t you give it another shot?”

Dameron tried again.

“Seeing as people can fall into unfortunate events by means outside of their control, are you more into playing pathetic people?”

While Ford at least attempted to answer Dameron this time, his answer was just as generic as the question that prompted it.

“Acting gives you the opportunity to live different lives and hopefully you develop a perspective that allows you to look at things from different points of view.

“But I’m not looking to empathize with the things done by the character Paul (Bettany) plays because of the nasty-ass things he’s doing. So I have no empathy for bad guys.”

A reporter from Brown University later tried his hand at a more intelligent question that accomplished little other than proving its author attended an Ivy League school.

“You say you vary your roles,” he said, “but I’m sure you realize a lot of your films depend on the durability of your extremely powerful public persona. And so these roles are responses to your persona and less to the particularities of your character. Do you agree with this and do you think that’s a problem?”

Ford replied, “That’s a pretty sophisticated question. I’ll try to give you a sophisticated answer.”

His answer touched on the fact that audiences haven’t been very receptive when he has tried to change things up role-wise.

After a series of questions that covered the usual bases (the new Indiana Jones is still very much in the early stages of development, Ford’s favorite fictional hero is Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird, specifically as played by Gregory Peck in the film version), it was time for the actor to take a question from the Daily Kent Stater.

“My question for you is this: You haven’t done any supporting roles since the ’70s, when you were in American Graffiti and Apocalypse Now. Is working with an ensemble something you’re interested in or are you only comfortable when all the responsibility of the film is on your shoulders?”

Ford began by saying he currently has a few projects in development in which he will play a supporting role. A critically acclaimed part in a hit movie would be a big coup for the formerly unstoppable actor who’s seen three of his last four projects stumble at the box office.

However, those kinds of roles don’t appear to be his main priority at the moment.

“It’s important to me to be responsible for what people come to see because it’s offered under my name. But I am interested in playing supporting parts.

“I’m a bit like a fireman. I don’t wanna roll out on a little trash fire in a Dumpster. I’m gonna pull on my boots. I wanna fight the big one.”

Then, to finish up his statement, as well as the entire conference call, Ford had one more thing to say.

“This is my job. This is what I do for a living. The fact that it’s a very good living has got nothing to do with it – it’s the same thing. You make choices in your job which are meant to protect your prerogatives.”

Contact campus editor Andrew Hampp at [email protected].