Come Again?

AICN’s Capone and a few other goonies recently met with Harrison Ford in Montana to discuss Cowboys & Aliens, and the following exchange was part of it:

Q: “There’s a lot of talk about nostalgia and bringing a sense of nostalgia to movies currently for an audience. Jon [Favreau] mentioned earlier that they had envisioned a scene where Daniel Craig‘s character jumps on one of the alien spacecrafts as sort of a similar moment to that Vick Armstrong stunt in [an Indiana Jones film] where he jumps on the tank. I was wondering if there is also a sense of nostalgia for action adventure that drew you to this film as well?

Ford: “Nope.”

[Everyone Laughs]

Q: “Fair enough.”

Ford: “I’m in it for the money. This is my job. I love making movies and I love being a part of good movies and I love working with ambitious people. Nostalgia doesn’t enter into it for me.”

Shutting down a fanboy question and pissing on nostalgia with a one-word answer…quite excellent! But in another sense everyone says that Ford’s insistence on having his quote met before he opens a script is one significant thing that’s not working in Ford’s favor at this stage of the game. He has to adopt a standard two-tier approach — i.e., getting his quote for the big-budget projects but doing smaller films for a reduced fee because he wants to do them and life is short.

  • Krazy Eyes

    It’s good to hear an actor refer to his job as just that … a job. Something he does to make a (very nice) living.

    I’m a graphic designer and I’ll often take on projects I have little interest in if they pay a good amount of money. I still do a good job but there’s no shame in doing work “for the money.” I don’t see why actors or directors are so often held to a higher standard.

  • Owen Walter

    As if Harrison Ford doesn’t have enough money that he couldn’t spend ALL his time making only the best movies possible, the ones that wouldn’t shit on our memories of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” But maybe this goes back to the slo-mo pre-dementia brain that I detected in the clip from Letterman. People who refuse to be nostalgic, that is, people who refuse to remember their pasts fondly, may very well be the ones who simply forget their pasts. “‘American Graffiti’? I had a small choice part in ‘American Graffiti’? Nah, better concentrate on my next role as a drivel-mouthed codger so I can expand my million-acre ranch in Montana and buy Calista some more builimia therapy.”

  • slashmc

    Harrison Ford has long said that he thinks of his job as an actor as similar to being a plumber, in that a plumber doesn’t come to your house and refuse a job because your sink is ugly…a plumber takes a job because its work and he’s going to be paid. While a large portion of Hollywood actors probably aspire to do award winning works or tiny artsy projects that really interest them, Ford definitely insists that for him it is just a job.

    I’ll agree that his attitude is definitely in the minority among actors, but there’s certainly no reason to insist that he must want to aspire to anything other than the next paycheck. I don’t think after his career is over anyone will be wondering why he didn’t win an Oscar – but we’ll definitely remember a lot of fun films.

  • Alboone

    The whole “nostalgia” angle has become a red herring in the grand sceme of things. Filmmakers pathetically use it as a marketing tool to get the 25-49 demo into the theaters thinking that we’ll fall for it like a bunch of slobbering drones. They’re getting the aesthetics right, but the emotional tone, the rhythms are still entrenched in todays adhd spectrum. Bad movies in the 80’s at least made an attempt at establishing character motivations, today its just an afterthought.

    But I’m glad Ford put a monkeywrench into the whole AICN fanboy wish fullfillment of yesteryear. They need to grow the fuck up over there.

  • Luke Y. Thompson

    Ford probably has this attitude because he was a carpenter first.

  • corey3rd

    There’s no one for the money, one for my art attitude coming from Harrison.

  • Markj74

    The turning point in Ford’s career was dismissing Traffic after not being offered his $20 million payday. He was perfect for that role. His choices over the past 10 years have been atrocious.

  • littlebigman

    Truth be told, Ford is not much of an actor. Here and there (and certainly more there than here) he has moments where it looks like he read the screenplay and invested more than a minute trying to understand his character. But, mostly – its Ford trying to keep up with his own iconography.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to markj: I feel the same way. Ford really blew it by passing on Traffic, and on some spiritual level he never recovered.

  • MrTribeca

    “His choices over the past 10 years have been atrocious.”

    Not completely true – Morning Glory was a better-than-average romantic comedy and he put in a damn good performance too.

  • JLC

    People are always quick to tell others how they should live their lives. Harrison Ford neither wants nor needs our approval. He’s done enough iconic roles that he could host Jersey Shore for the rest of his career and there would still be millions lining up to defend him. The opinion of a few movie bloggers literally means less than nothing to him.

  • Owen Walter

    The current Harrison Ford would indeed star with The Situation in a blockbuster about aliens on the Jersey Shore. I’m copyrighting the idea and sending it to him now. He’ll probably draw the line at co-starring with Snooki, though.

  • Smedley

    My opinion on Ford’s “just for the money” attitude changed after I listened to the commentary on MORNING GLORY (yes, I did). The director noted several scenes, prop choices, character traits, etc that were Ford’s ideas. After having just watched the film, I felt those suggestions had been key additions. It sure did not sound like he just showed up and did the minimum and went home richer.

  • bluefugue

    >Truth be told, Ford is not much of an actor.

    He’s not a thespian, but he is a star — one of the major “man’s man” leads alongside guys like Gable, Connery, Wayne, et al. He’s also capable of playing variations against his persona, often with a great deal of humor. He hit the double of all doubles with Star Wars/Indiana Jones, but through the ’80s he elevated a number of other movies with his reliable star presence (Blade Runner, Witness, Frantic, Working Girl). I’d throw in Mosquito Coast as well, but haven’t seen it in years and not sure how good it really is.

    I have nothing against an actor admitting they’re in it for the money. That said, I also feel very little compulsion to see any movies that Ford has chosen lately (I did catch the first half hour of Morning Glory on a plane and enjoyed him in that). He can keep earning his monster paychecks and enjoying his ranch, but it has little to do with me. It’s possible that the ones who agonize about their art a bit more — even to the point of pretension — also happen to do more interesting work. Or maybe not.

    As for nostalgia, there’s probably a correlation between spectacularly successful individuals and an absence of nostalgia. Hard to move forward when you’re looking backward. (Proust managed it, though.)

  • Owen Walter

    In his cork-lined room Proust barely existed except for his art. “Each of us is truly alone,” he wrote between wheezes. He’s hardly a model for anyone, not even someone who wants to emulate (imho) the greatest novel of the twentieth century. There is no recipe for art or life, except what makes your art good and your life worth living.

    With Ford, my anger resides not in his lifestyle choices or his curt disingenuous answers to interview questions but in the fact that he doesn’t seem to care that his legacy, a superb one as bluefugue outlined, can be colored by the choices he makes even now. Cary Grant’s career would be different if he never made the great Hitchcock movies of his late phase. Conversely, DeNiro’s work has been so bad in the last two decades or so that, in my eyes, it’s diminished the great performances at the beginning of his career: I’ve started to think that the glint I saw in his eyes in “Mean Streets” was just the light, after all, and not something brilliant from within.

    But I’m not going to handcuff Ford to David Fincher and make him make a good movie. I just find it all ineffably sad and wasteful.

  • DiscoNap

    Talking that back in the day shit. THERE AINT NO NOSTALGIA TO THIS SHIT HERE.

  • Rev. Slappy

    My theory about Ford’s decade of bad choices stems from the end of his marriage to screenwriter Melissa Mathison. I can’t imagine having a writer around the house doesn’t help you when it comes to picking material.

  • Jeff and/or Danny Is Always Wrong

    Does anyone know why Ford’s never worked again with Peter Weir? Did they have a falling out or something?

    Weir got the best performances Ford ever gave without a bullwhip or a blaster, why not try for three?

  • dharth presley

    I get the feeling that Ford is not the least bit interested in “polishing his legend” – he’s nearing 70 now – his body of work speaks for itself – he’s got a full well-rounded life with many other interests and he’s not looking for work or interested in playing some sort of industry game – he stands apart. If you want him in your movie, this is what it costs to pay him – if you don’t want to pay him that, fine – he’s more than comfortable and doesn’t care what you think. It’s a business and he’s in the Harrison Ford business. It’s a great position to be in on many levels and it works for him. I totally get it.

    Also: he is a great screen actor. His physicality, especially evident in every one of the Indiana Jones movies, is astonishing to me every time – he moves like a Will Eisner drawing come to life. Right up there with Buster Keaton and Cary Grant in my book.

  • markj

    The turning point in Ford’s career was dismissing Traffic after not being offered his $20 million payday. He was perfect for that role. His choices over the past 10 years have been atrocious.

  • Edward

    I love the ironic use of the Mothers’ cover.

  • Peterzee

    Ford is a first-class crank with zero patience for people he would just as soon not be hanging around with. Did you see his interviews with Favreau around this movie? THAT guy was sharp, funny, engaged…he was the Harrison Ford I like. I get the distinct impression he may exaggerate his “job of work” attitudes about acting around the geekerati.

  • ModernLifeIsRubbish

    Jeff and/or Danny Is Always Wrong —

    I’ve always wondered the same. I know The Mosquito Coast (great film) was a financial bust, which one might assume would alienate movie-star Ford from Weir, but then I read Ford, rightly, considers it one of his finest moments. So…no clue.

    Though considering how much Weir struggled when putting together the money for The Way Back, and his seeming reluctance to return to the studio system, who knows if he could even afford Ford anymore.

  • twicks

    I think bluefugue is right…isn’t HF notorious for being “hands-on” with screenplays, directors, etc?

    Doesn’t sound like a guy who’s only interested in sleepwalking through roles and cashing a paycheck.

  • Cadavra

    It’s one thing to be in it for the money. It’s quite another to be in it for an unalterable amount. Would it kill him to take, say, $10 million to work with an interesting director on a non-tentpole comedy or drama? Many other big stars do occasional “pro bono” projects without threatening their quote. It makes him sound mercenary, and shows his priority is not to the “job,” but to A “job” that pays especially well. I wonder how many other worthy projects he blew off because they couldn’t afford him and he wouldn’t budge.

  • BobbyLupo

    “doing smaller films for a reduced fee because he wants to do them and life is short.”

    What part of everything Harrison Ford has said for the last 20 years don’t you understand? He doesn’t want to do them. He genuinely doesn’t seem to care if he ever acts again. And if the 4th Indiana Jones movie hadn’t boosted him back up for a little while, he probably wouldn’t be, because nobody would be willing to meet his quote. And he’d be just fine with that. He’d be doing the things he wants to do because he can afford to do whatever he wants and life is too short.

    This isn’t a knock; I think he genuinely works at acting when he does it, and really engages as much as he can with whatever he’s doing, which is why he only wants to do it if it’s “worth” it to him. I think there was a point when he was interested in an Oscar, at least a little, but it’s long since gone.

  • Funker Hornsby

    ford doesn’t like doing interviews. he usually is very upfront about it. saying “i do it because i get paid” is a pretty good way of keeping idiot journalists at bay. if you ask him about that, he usually anwers something along the line that he used to be a carpenter, that that was a good job as well, just not paid that well, and that he feels lucky to be in the situation that he’s in. but really, it’s an answer to let you know: i’m not interested in cosy blah-blah, i’m a hands on guy, and that’s how my answers will be. which doesn’t mean that he can’t be funny and courteous and intelligent and enlightened. it just depends on what you ask him and how you do it. fair enough. it’s worked alright for him all his career. i’d rather have that than some phony bullshit. and just because you do stuff because you get paid it doesn’t mean you don’t want to do it well.

  • Terry McCarty

    Wells to markj: I feel the same way. Ford really blew it by passing on Traffic, and on some spiritual level he never recovered.

    Assuming this is why Ford appeared in CROSSING OVER.

  • dofollow blogs

    I have nothing against an actor admitting they’re in it for the money. That said, I also feel very little compulsion to see any movies that Ford has chosen lately (I did catch the first half hour of Morning Glory on a plane and enjoyed him in that).

    Asheville Home Theater

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