Harrison Ford turned 80 years old yesterday. On the one hand, this milestone will make a lot of people feel really quite old. But on the other hand, maybe it’s not so surprising.
After all, it does feel like the actor has been making films forever and ever. And in a way, he has: George Lucas’ Star Wars – the film that catapulted Ford into international stardom – was released 45 years ago.
With 50 per cent of the UK population under 39 years old, that means that half of the country was not even born when Ford was doing the press tour for the space saga blockbuster.
The actor – who is arguably one of the last great movie stars – has played some of Hollywood’s biggest roles, from Han Solo to Indiana Jones to Rick Deckard. He’s starred in 59 films over his long career, has been nominated for an Oscar, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and has won dozens of other accolades for his momentous body of work.
So, to celebrate the actor becoming an octogenarian, here are our favourite Harrison Ford moments in film.
Star Wars, 1977
Ford was already 35 when he made it big playing Han Solo in George Lucas’ Star Wars. Since the mid-sixties, he had been playing bit parts and supporting roles and had even starred in some films, such as the 1967 Western A Time for Killing, and the 1974 Francis Ford Coppola-directed The Conversation.
But it was the role of the smuggler, captain of the Millennium Falcon and leader of the Rebel Alliance that changed the actor’s life.
Apocalypse Now, 1979
Apocalypse Now was directed by Coppola and starred an impossibly star-studded cast including Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen and Laurence Fishburne. Loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella Heart of Darkness, the film tells the tale of soldiers conducting a secret mission during the Vietnam War.
Ford played Colonel G. Lucas (which was a writers’ joke – Coppola and Lucas were friends, setting up production company American Zoetrope in 1969). Although it wasn’t his biggest role, it saw Ford easily make the transition to another blockbuster where he was not Han Solo.
Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981
Directed by Steven Spielberg, Raiders of the Lost Ark saw Ford become much-loved adventurer Indiana Jones, a role he would go on to play four more times. It was the highest-grossing film of 1981 and won five Academy Awards.
Blade Runner, 1982
There is possibly no film in the world that is more eighties than Blade Runner. The music, the camera angles, the clothes, the colours, the themes. This Ridley Scott science fiction blockbuster, which went on to become one of the most celebrated in the annals of science fiction movie making, was loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Set in a dystopian future Los Angeles, the film followed Ford’s character, Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who kills androids when they try to escape from planetary colonies. A sequel, Blade Runner 2049, which was directed by Denis Villeneuve was released in 2017 and saw Ford reprise one of his best-loved roles.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984
Ford’s second appearance as the professor of archaeology could be seen as his most famous, largely because of the hat scene that has gone on to be one of the most homaged/parodied moments in cinema: racing through a massive stone door as it lowers on him, Jones nevertheless reaches back through the narrowing gap to retrieve his infamous wide-brimmed sable fedora, missing being crushed by a whisker.
The film also starred Kate Capshaw, Amrish Puri and Roshan Seth.
Directed by Peter Weir, who also made The Truman Show and Dead Poets Society, Witness followed the story of a police detective (Ford) who tries to protect an Amish woman and her young son after he witnesses the murder of an undercover police officer.
The film garnered a massive eight Academy Award nominations, including best actor for Ford. He missed out, but the film went on to win two – for Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing.
Working Girl, 1988
In the midst of several years’ worth of action thrillers and psychological neo-noir dramas, Working Girl saw Ford in a role that enjoyed a little (much-needed) levity.
Ford played a mergers associate in this romantic comedy-drama starring Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin and Joan Cusack. The story follows an ambitious secretary Tess (Griffith) whose boss Katharine (Weaver), declines, then later steals her brilliant merger idea. When Katharine is put out of action with a broken leg, Tess uses the opportunity to get ahead, moving forward with her idea.
The film also did well at the Academy Awards, earning six nominations.
Presumed Innocent, 1990
An absolute classic of the thriller genre coming out of Hollywood that decade – think The Firm, Jagged Edge, Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction, The Pelican Brief – this legal thriller saw Ford play a prosecutor who gets charged with the murder of his colleague and mistress.
Ford, who often plays the grumpy guy, did it best here. He is Linus Larrabee, the super-rich older brother of bad boy David. Sabrina is the daughter of the Larrabee family’s chauffeur. She returns from an internship at Paris Vogue completely transformed.
A remake of the 1954 Billy Wilder film, it was never going to reach the heady heights of its original – how could it ever rival a film that had Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn on screen together – but was still great fun. An age-old romantic-comedy dynamic.
What Lies Beneath, 2000
Ford starred opposite Michelle Pfeiffer in this supernatural horror film about a couple living in a haunted house. Although it was met with mixed reviews, it went on to become the tenth-highest-grossing film of the year, showing that Ford has lasting power at the box office.