25 July 2022 1041 Views

How to be Harrison Ford

by James Murphy

The Great Man himself celebrated a big birthday, recently.


To mark the occasion? We have some readied tips on how to be just like HARRISON FORD. 

NB: You cannot ‘be’ Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Jack Ryan et al. Indeed, only an idiot would model themselves on an actor as that is as doomed an endeavour as any attempts at recreating the exploits of fictional heroes. You are you. They are..well, whoever an actor is asked to ‘play’, which incidentally, includes a certain persona for purposes of promotional marketing rounds etc.

That said? Ford is the exception that proves the rule. The reason he has endured so long, done so well and retained such popularity is, ultimately, down to a mix of craft and graft.

Indeed, for all his shrug of the shoulders charm and likeable star quality, there is a kind of code by which he has succeeded. Harrison might not know that. But we do. So here, at a glance, is the guide to being just like him!



Yes, Ford is a handsome dude. No question. He makes the ladies swoon, even today. But his looks can vary in quality. This is not a ‘pretty’ boy. The grit is there. Lop sided grin. Scar on chin. Ripped but not to Schwarzenegger /Stallone proportions.

Ford’s entire facial shape and structure change according to hair/make-up/age/whether he is sporting stubble, beard or remains clean shaven. And he can make the smallest of everyday rituals, from getting up and going to work, to breaking for a coffee, seem, somehow, fascinating.

Therefore, you believe Harrison when he plays a hero but equally that said protagonist is more organic and real, always working accidentally out of their comfort leagues and ending up in over their head etc. That quality translates into casual gestures with minor characters and co-stars.

Look at the way he talks to a cop in the hospital in THE FUGITIVE, for example. On the run, having just shaved his beard, coffee and donut in hand as disguise props.

Ford is cornered and asked if he has seen a man fitting his own description: ‘Every time I look in the mirror, pal. Oh except for the beard, of course!’. As a comedic post script to that moment of tension, the cop points out that Ford’s Dr Kimble has his flies undone.

Genius. A fusion of white collar skill and blue collar charm: THAT is Harrison Ford’s unique appeal in a snapshot scene. Brilliant!


Some actors just convince as brainy professionals who happen to be thrust into adventures. Jeff Goldblum is one King of that template (Dr Ian Malcolm in JURASSIC PARK /LOST WORLD). But Harrison Ford invented this wheel.

Seriously. INDIANA JONES and JACK RYAN appear very different characters; in polar opposite genres (former is from fantastical fun period pieces for families; latter = serious techno-thriller with grown up notions). And yet? Common denominator = College Professors who do fieldwork when called upon to do so.

Taken together, and especially when viewed with some of Ford’s other work (Mosquito Coast, for example, and What Lies Beneath); one sees a steady stream of respect for the notion that a university level post grad professional mind need not preclude the qualities of machismo, flawed yet determined humanity, charisma and charm.

That’s the kind of positive example which inspired certain kids (now grown up) to take an interest IN their studies. Because the dream was that one day, they might just grow up to be LIKE one of the Ford style characters; rather than feeling reduced and thereby traduced as some inept nerd. Genius!


Harrison Ford is a good man, no question.

He built adjusted homes for two of his wives. Was a conservationist long before that was ‘cool’. Supports epilepsy charities. Has flown rescue missions to save stranded walking parties.

At the same time, though? He is a very private person, verging on awkward shyness, often confused with being ‘grumpy’. Harrison is a very particular actor and does not suffer fools, either on or off set.

Equally; he has made career mistakes (basically ANYTHING FROM 2001-2008?); and learns, accordingly, as he goes.  This guy is shrewd, tough and resourceful, knowing when a flop has hurt him and the importance of bouncing back.

Examples? Well, Indiana Jones seemed done and dusted back in 1989. So: Ford tried moving away from action (PRESUMED INNOCENT, REGARDING HENRY). That did not work as well as hoped.

And therefore, Harrison went franchise shopping. Paramount and the Jack Ryan producers were wavering on whether or not to re-hire Alec Baldwin. If one believes Alec’s story from his autobiography (worth a read btw and unlikely to libel Mr Ford?), Harrison moved in for the kill and took the Jack Ryan role from Baldwin.

As in, totally prepared to take another man’s movie. Because that’s just business.

Think about it. Han Solo, Indiana Jones: good guys but willing to ‘play’ dirty/bad/roguish to win. Harrison plays those well. For a good reason. He IS like that? A BIT? 😉

See also: Tom Selleck was cast in Raiders of the Lost Ark but had to drop out so Ford rose to the challenge. And he has done so, ever since. Ford has made the role his own.

That is why we only have 3 (or 4, or 5, depending on your view of ‘canon’) Indiana Jones films. Had they re-cast? It’d be another 007 franchise, for sure, with a movie every 2-3 years and a new actor per rebooted iteration.

Ford was fiercely protective of a part he made his own. Yes, he allowed and enabled the sadly late River Phoenix to play young Indy. But notice his blocking ANY notion of premature torch passing to Chris Pratt/Pine/et al. 

And just like when Kevin Costner preferred boring himself to death with reshoots on THE POSTMAN over making AIR FORCE ONE, in 1997?

So Harrison stepped in, by Kev’s request. Ford thereby bounced back to commercial relevance after 1995’s SABRINA disappointed most viewers.

Any attempt at retiring from action or growing old gracefully was removed from Ford. Calcium deposits in knees and back injuries: no excuse for failing to give the public what they want. Harrison, beating up bad guys and smirking as he runs away.

‘Running and physical acting are not stunts; they are staples of the trade; same way celebrity is the pox of success’ (actual quote from Mr Ford, yep). 

He accepted that lot in life. Good problem to have, right? Hence, he finds himself still doing Indiana Jones films at 80!



‘Goes without saying: Ford has skills.

Carpenter! Roadie! Philosophy undergraduate! There is a brain at work there. Yes, he is laconic, verging near caricature on occasion, almost dozing off in his own sentence delivery?

That is why I was unsurprised by Carrie Fisher’s revelations that Harrison is no stranger to the joys of weed. This dude was a stoner? Solely off duty, mind!

The only way Carrie could animate the man was to steal his stash and basically, well, do sex-stuff, to divert him from crosswords and huffing like a taciturn misanthrope in the corner all day. Fair enough. And HILARIOUS! 😉

But never underestimate the man’s brain.

Harrison does, genuinely, ask and also answer searching questions about character, story and the ‘utility’ of his role in both those systems as an assistant teller of the movies’ motifs.

Unfailingly honest, Ford confesses he was too ‘lazy’ to direct a film, yet exerted creative control in a number of projects, shaping franchise fates, en route. Clever!

There is a thirst for knowledge; a lust for and love of life at work in the man, both on and offscreen. Even Coppola was impressed by Ford’s work ethic and curiosities, so they collaborated well on THE CONVERSATION and APOCALYPSE NOW.

Taking up flying at 50, he is a distinguished and brilliant pilot whose interest in aviation is infectious. A ranch owner, Harrison built a number of his own properties from scratch.

It is those survival skills that have enabled him to endure as both film star and actor. And though his acting range is by no means what people think of, for the most part, it is ‘there’, through his own ability portfolio, beyond the roles played.

The qualities match up on occasion in moments of brilliance in his back catalogue of parts. WITNESS earned him an Oscar nomination. A most natural, human, vulnerable and yet physical role; playing to all his strengths whilst testing him in new material and genre zones.

He can also be a funny comedian; with an improv instinct and razor sharp timing to match, as evident in his STAR WARS appearances as HAN SOLO.


5: IE..

Yes, none of us can ‘be’ Harrison or any of his characters. But we can indeed learn from his strengths and abate our own limitations, accordingly. Grow old and grumpy but know when to balance retreat with sudden advance and lease of new life/second winds.

Remain as competent and cool as possible in every area of life, always pushing yourself but with one eye to the everyman qualities of charm, style and good grace that make anyone a true ‘star’. THAT, plus a BIT of good luck and timing? And hey, even YOU can be just like Harrison Ford.

You will need to work on the lop sided grin and finger raising gestures though. Those are inimitable.

HARRISON FORD: the dad, uncle, big brother, mentor, teacher and hero we have all grown up with, at the movies.

Casual. Cool. Competent. Charismatic. Craftsmanship! 

Long may he continue doing what he does best.


(‘DON’T CALL ME ‘SIR’: I WORK FOR A LIVING!’ = Actual quote, from Mr Ford./ Yep). 


PS: BLADE RUNNER is another Ford classic, right? So why not build your OWN future urban /travel/ other areas?..

Try: Sustainability Roadmap

And: City Maps

Or: Augmented World

And this company, right here, which I have come across in my research.

If you are still reading at this stage then also check out these two:





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