There’s a recent red carpet interview when Harrison Ford was asked, in relation to Indiana Jones, if he’s finally ready to “hang up his hat” and hand off the character to another actor. Ford was polite and basically said to just wait for the movie, then wandered off. What’s weird is he’s been asked some form of this question for decades now. And he’s been pretty clear the answer is, “no.” A few years ago he literally went on the Today show and told us when he’s gone, Indy is gone.
And as an actor, this is one of Ford’s most prolific time periods. He obviously has Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny coming in 2023. He has a new Apple series, Shrinking. He has signed on to play Thunderbolt Ross in Captain America 4. Oh yeah, and he’s also starring in his own Yellowstone spinoff series, 1923. You know, that series which are the most watched shows on television? This does not sound like a guy who is hanging up his hat for anything anytime soon.
In 1923, Ford plays Jacob Dutton, patriarch of the Yellowstone ranch, which he runs with his wife, Cara, played by Helen Mirren. This is a reunion between the two legendary actors, having co-starred in the excellent The Mosquito Coast back in 1986. It’s actually surprising it took this long for these two to reunite. In fact, a few years ago I interviewed Mirran and brought up The Mosquito Coast and it’s immediately obvious how much she loves that movie and working with Ford. I read to Ford what Mirren said and he had a big smile on his face the entire time.
And then there’s Ford’s former Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom co-star Ke Huy Quan, who is getting rave reviews and picking up awards along the way for his performance in Everything Everywhere all at Once. He and Ford made some headlines for appearing in a pretty joyful photo together back at D23. I asked Ford about that photo and he did that Harrison Ford thing where he stopped me in my tracks to tell me he has seen Everything Everywhere all at Once and gushed as he talked about his former sidekick. When I mentioned he might get nominated for an Oscar, Ford did that thing only Ford can do where he takes a pause, his eyes light up, leans forward then forcefully enunciates, “Well deserved!”
Harrison Ford: Nice to see you.
Oh nice to see you. I’ve always wanted an excuse to start getting into Yellowstone. Talking to you was my excuse. And I watched this first episode of 1923, yep, I’m in.
Great! Glad to hear it.
I knew I was in when I saw that old-timey photo of you and Helen Mirren in the opening credits, that’s a great photo of you two.
Yeah, and it’s great to work with her again. As you probably know, we worked together 40 years ago on a movie…
Yeah, The Mosquito Coast is one of my favorite movies. We literally just watched it a couple of days ago.
Oh, really? Great.
It’s funny, last time I talked to you, I made a Mosquito Coast reference and you interrupted me and you’re like, “I think Allie Fox is Nuts!” So I’m glad you and Helen get to do a project now where you’re not, using your word, playing a nut.
[Laughs] No, listen, that was a glib characterization of something that was … a glib reference to a character in the past. I think the writing in this is extraordinary, and Taylor Sheridan has given me a character that he spent some quality time with. This script, the architecture, the development of the character is really clear and interesting to me, so it’s easy to know what to do.
You get to basically play a cowboy in this. Is that something you’ve wanted to do? I know you’ve dabbled. I’ve seen The Frisco Kid. I’ve seen obviously Cowboys & Aliens.
“Cowboy” is a … I don’t know what a “cowboy” is!
I don’t either, to be honest.
The guys who work on ranches are “cowboys.” They work with cows.
Yeah, they do.
And many of them are boys! But he’s a rancher, and a rancher is financially responsible as well as everything else for the outcomes. The pressures on Jacob Dutton at this point are considerable. The economic pressures. Banks are not loaning to cattle ranchers, having suffered losses. The business has not become as efficient as it needs to be just to generate consistent profits. The railhead is not close enough, so cattle still have to be driven. They lose weight, and they suffer casualties on the way to the market.
There are a lot of things coming that are unknown. There’s electrification. There’s cars in the street instead of horses. Jacob Dutton looks around and he’s seeing the threat to his way of life, to the simplicity. He’s challenged by all of it. All of it becomes his responsibility to extend the opportunities he’s had to his family for generations to come. You want that ranch, you got to keep that ranch in the family. You got to hold onto it, and there’s a lot of pressure on it.
Does it surprise you how long it took for you and Helen to do something together again? Because I’m under the impression you two both admire each other’s work quite a bit.
No, I think each had different paths and different opportunities. Her work has been incredible. She’s had a very different career than I’ve had. And yet we’re very, very comfortable with each other, I think. I enjoy the opportunity to work together.
I mention that because a few years ago I brought up The Mosquito Coast to her. She just lit up and had a lot to say about it, but this part struck me, “Harrison was trying to do something different. They couldn’t see their beloved Harrison Ford being this dark, conflicted, problematic character. They just couldn’t handle it. They couldn’t handle it. It’s interesting,” as she gives this big defense of you. At that moment I was like, well they will work together again.
[Laughing] I’ve never heard that! That’s very sweet.
Do you agree with that though? That people couldn’t handle dark Harrison Ford at the time? You’re awesome in that movie and you know that.
Well, thank you very much. Allie Fox was a wonderful character to play, and his questionable sanity is one of the … a process that Peter and I had to work through together. That’s a very supportive and generous thing to say, and that’s Helen.
When people bring up your most famous scenes, like the swordsman in Raiders, for my money when you fire up a chainsaw to spout nonsense to a little kid and you can’t hear what he’s saying should be on that list. High comedy.
[Laughs] Good. Good!
That picture you took with Ke Huy Quan a few months ago, that made a lot of people happy. The Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom reunion…
Oh yeah. Yeah, it was great to see him. I mean … I’ve had the opportunity to see the film. He is really terrific in his movie. And I’m so glad to see him … and what he has become. I’m so happy for him. He’s such a happy guy, too.
Indiana Jones and Short Round are reunited after 38 years.
(via Ke Huy Quan’s IG) pic.twitter.com/p10XaMtJz5
— Letterboxd (@letterboxd) September 10, 2022
Yeah, he just got a best supporting actor award win from the New York Film Critic Circle, and he’s probably going to get an Oscar nomination.
And well deserved! Well deserved.
I’m out of time, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that the Indy 5 trailer looks great.
[Laughs] Thanks, man. Hope to see you for that.
Ha, yeah, me too. It was good to see you.
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