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Analyzing Harrison Ford’s Greatest Roles

Monday, June 08, 2015


Harrison Ford. What or who comes to your mind when you think of him? Is it Han Solo? Is it Indiana Jones? Or is it Rick Deckard from Blade Runner? Regardless of what role come to mind, Mr. Ford’s impact on cinema is undeniable. Beyond portraying some of the greatest heroes of film, he has managed to create dozens of other more characters, and make them completely believable and engaging. 

Of course this article isn’t about those incredible dramatic roles like John Book from Witness or Henry Turner in Regarding Henry(surprisingly written by J.J. Abrams). No, no, no this is about those roles that come to mind first. We’ll talk about Indy, Deckard, and Han; where they came from and what the future holds for each.

Rick Deckard

The first of the Harrison’s roles that we’ll cover is probably the lesser known of the three, particularly for those that don’t watch and/or read much science fiction. Deckard is the creation of the famed science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. Originally published in 1968, the book follows Rick Deckard through a post apocalyptic earth as he tracks 6 escaped androids across San Francisco. 

The movie, directed by Ridley Scott, an icon of science fiction cinema in his own right, follows the story fairly close though it is a bit more action-y than the original story. Harrison Ford, coming hot off the heels of his other two greatest roles, stars as Deckard. He does a great job of being the hard-boiled detective, and has fantastic chemistry with Rutger Hauer who actually kind of steals the show on this one.

A second Blade Runner film is currently in pre-production, so we can look forward to more Harrison/Deckard sci-fi goodness in the near future. 

Indiana Jones

Let’s re-live the early ‘80s! Starting in 1980 with The Empire Strikes Back Harrison Ford was on a tear. Raiders of the Lost Ark followed the best film in the Star Wars trilogy just one year later. This launched another massive franchise for Ford and created one of his most iconic characters. Indiana Jones, like Star Wars, was originally created by George Lucas, but with the whole Star Wars thing happening he was a tad preoccupied to entrain the idea. Enter Steven Spielberg, Spielberg was looking for a new project after coming off of the success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the timing could not have been better. Needless to say Indiana Jones became an enormous hit, and the first of the films won 5 Academy awards and was nominated for a total of 9. 

In a continuation of the ‘80s flashback Indiana will also be returning to the silver screen, but details are slim right now.

Han Solo

Star Wars produced a boatload of iconic characters. Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, but one of the few to make it out of the galaxy far far away was Han Solo. Harrison Ford turned the charisma and charm he showed in Star Wars and made dozens of incredibly successful movies afterward, while many of the other actors struggled to find suitable roles. 

The thing that made Han great was the pure anti-heroness of him. He’s a gambler, and a smuggler, an all round scoundrel. He shoots first and asks questions later. There are few actors out there than can exude that confidence, but the young carpenter pulled it off with ease. 

Now, in December we get to see that swagger again, but this time, as in real life, with thirty years of experience behind it. 

While some might complain that the resurgence of these three characters is a perfect example of Hollywood’s lack of ideas, many who grew up with these stories are excited to see Harrison Ford return to some of his most iconic roles for what may be the last time. Part of that excitement comes from the crop of new storytellers that are reviving the excitement and adventure that captures both the nostalgia of the old films, and newness that brings in younger audiences. And as Indy says in Raiders “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the milage.”


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