Harrison Ford reflects on four decades as our favourite daredevil archaeologist | Films | Entertainment

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in his fifth outing,

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in his fifth outing, (Image: Disney)

Harrison Ford wearily picked himself up off the ground, dusted off his brown fedora hat, straightened his leather jacket and shook his head. “That’s the last time I’m falling down for you!” he told James Mangold, director of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, which opens on June 30.

Ford was 37 years old when he first cracked Indy’s whip. He’s now 80, starring in the adventure-seeking archaeologist’s fifth and final outing, and he has the aches and pains to prove it.

“Harrison is not unlike Indy in the sense he’s carrying with him the scars of all the films he’s made – as well as his own private calamities,” says Mangold.

“He is this embodiment of all those bruises, broken bones and being bounced off walls and being thrown to the floor over so many years… This stuff takes its toll.”

Even in his latest film, Ford wanted to do as many of his stunts as possible, despite the battering. “He was the one fighting to do things,” says Mangold.

Ford in Indiana Jones And The Temple

Ford in Indiana Jones And The Temple (Image: Getty)

“I would be like: ‘No, not this one.’ When you’re 80 years old, just getting thrown to the ground is its own trauma.”Ford was lucky only to injure his shoulder rehearsing a Dial of Destiny fight scene.

Seven years ago, he broke a leg filming Star Wars: The Force Awakens when a set door on the Millennium Falcon fell on him. Then nine months later he shattered his pelvis and back crash-landing a vintage single-engine plane on a California golf course. It’s been quite a career.

The veteran of Star Wars, Witness and Blade Runner, Ford wiped away tears after watching a montage of his many roles as he received an honorary award at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

“I just saw my life flash before my eyes,” he laughed. More tears flowed after a screening of Dial of Destiny. It’s extraordinary to see a kind of relic of your life as it passes by,” he said.

The new film finds Indy retiring as a college professor, when drag-ged into a fresh adventure that gives him a new lease on life.

“I’d always wanted to do a final chapter in the story,” explains Ford. “I wanted to see him diminished and revivified.”

Director James Mangold revealed Ford still wanted to do his own stunts

Director James Mangold revealed Ford still wanted to do his own stunts (Image: Getty)

Ford is still working hard, starring in streaming comedy series Shrinking, and Wes-tern drama 1923 opposite Helen Mirren, but insists this is his last adventure as Indy: “This is it. I will not fall down for you again.” He adds, laughing: “I need to sit down and rest a little bit.”

The film co-stars Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Indy’s troublemaking goddaughter Helena, and Mads Mikkelsen as a villainous Nazi, in the hunt for an ancient astronomical dial that could change the course of history.

The first 25 minutes is set in 1944, where Ford is digitally de-aged to appear 35 years old, using advancements on the technology that made Robert De Niro and Al Pacino years younger in 2019 drama The Irishman.

“I never loved the idea until I saw how it was accomplished in this case – which is very different than the way it’s been done in other films I’ve seen,” says Ford.

“They’ve got every frame of film, either printed or unprinted, of me during 40 years of working with Lucasfilm on various stuff. I can act the scene and they sort through with AI every ****ing foot of film to find me in that same angle and light. It’s bizarre, and it works.

“That’s my actual face. I put little dots on my face and I say the words and they make it. It’s fantastic.”

Ford with Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Ford with Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Image: Disney)

Ford doesn’t find it strange seeing himself decades younger on screen, confessing: “That’s what I see when I look in the mirror. I still see brown hair.” The script was originally littered with jokes about ageing, but Ford and the producers removed them all. “I’d rather create behaviour that is the joke of age, rather than talk about it,” he adds.

Most of the film is set in 1969, amid the Space Race and the Cold War, when Indy’s tomb-raiding exploits seem anachronistic. He brings a bullwhip to a gunfight, with expectedly comic consequences. Waller-Bridge says she had the time of her life
during filming, but initially had a minor meltdown when offered the role.

She said: “There was a panic attack, but then I read the script. I mean, it was a good panic attack, and also slight disbelief.

“When I read the script I felt like I read it in five minutes. It was the most joyful and brilliant read, and then I was screaming ‘Yes!’ into my own kitchen.”

Her first day filming opposite Ford proved challenging. “Seeing Harrison in the fedora was exciting,” she says. “I remember telling him I was quite nervous and I needed to sort of snap out of it, and he rolled up his script and slapped me round the head with it and said: ‘Does that help?’ And I was like, ‘Yes actually, it did. Do it again! Thanks’.’”

At one point Indy and Helena explore an ancient tomb hidden in a cave. “I remember the childlike wonder I felt walking into that set,” Waller-Bridge says.

“It was the same I felt imagining what that would be like watching those films as a child. I couldn’t quite believe it and was a bit overwhelmed.

“It’s such an extraordinary thing working on movies that have this scale. You really feel like you are living the adventure. I feel like all that stuff actually happened to me.”

Ford’s advanced years barely slowed him down, with Waller-Bridge admitting: “Keeping up with this guy is exhausting.”

The Chicago-born actor, who turns 81 in July, can be irascible, even curmudgeonly when dealing with the media, and while he plays a psychological therapist in Shrin-king, he has little time for introspection. “I’m not anti-therapy for anybody – except for myself,” he says. “I know who the **** I am.”

While he loves acting, he has little time for Hollywood’s self-aggrandisement, and prefers retreating from Tinseltown’s superficiality.

He moved 40 years ago to an 800-acre ranch in Wyoming, where he lives with his wife, actress Calista Flockhart, emerging only to film, or promote a movie.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Image: Lucas films)

“My job, at the moment, is to help sell the product,” he says bluntly. “This is what they really pay me for. The acting I’d do for free.”

While the digital technology may now exist to engineer Ford starring in a sixth Indiana Jones adventure – without ever leaving home or filming a single scene – he insists that will never happen. Nor will he miss playing Indiana Jones.

“I’m not built that way,” he says. “I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to play him. I’m especially happy that we have closed the circle on him and that we see the character in a different light and in different circumstances than we might expect. I’m very happy with the film we’ve made.”

Yet he has no plans to retire from acting just yet. “I like playing an old guy. If I wasn’t having a good time, I would stop doing it.” And he looks at his de-aged younger self on screen without envy. “I don’t look back and say I wish I was that guy again. I’m really happy with age. I love being older.

“It was great to be young, and I could be dead! But I’m still working.

“Go figure.”

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