Geek Intersect: Harrison Ford

Category: Intersect
Last article published: 15 August 2016
This is the 5th post under this label

A Geek Intersect is an entertainer - often an actor - who has portrayed more than one seminal role associated with genre television or movies. Someone who has come to MEAN something to fans of genre fiction, and consequently, whose every new appearance takes on a double meaning. To geeks, they've become a connection to important geekery real estate and immediately create a reference or allusion back into the Intersect of All Things Geek. And this guy is probably at the top of many a list.

Harrison Ford: Modern-day matinée idol

Han Solo: All his key roles are bunched up in the late 70s/early 80s, but the first is and always will be Han Solo. A goody space pirate with the fastest ship in the galaxy and a smirk, Han is cool from the moment he shoots first to the moment he tells Leia "I know". And I don't even have to contextualize those references, because of course you know what they mean. In the school yard, nobody wanted to be Luke, but everyone wanted to be Han, even if perhaps he had a laser sword (as you might surmise, we had gender-segregated school yards). It's kind of funny that, in the sequels, the tables are sort of reversed for me, where Old Luke is a total badass who knows what's what, and Han has kind of failed to grow up. Bonus points for talking shit about Star Wars, while also taking the paycheck for returning even beyond the character's death.

Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark was the first movie I ever saw in theaters without parental (or any) accompaniment and it rocked my world. Same basic persona, and George Lucas was also bringing a love of old movie serials to the project, so chances are, if you liked Han Solo, you liked Indy too. Han Solo UNCHAINED, truly SOLO, no pesky kid or back-talking princess... well, until Temple of Doom, I guess. Truth is, Indy was never on his own, but his cast of friends and helpers (Mario, his dad...) were pretty cool. In the schoolyard? We went from going piew-piew to WHIP-CRACK!

Rick Deckard: Ok, I didn't see Blade Runner until I was much older, and I know Ford did not like his experience very much and thought he should be more of a white hat, but it's one of my very favorite movies, and it does an excellent job of weaponizing his screen persona. He goes from matinée idol to ambiguous noir protagonist, which are both genres from a bygone era, and yet, in each of these "retro" projects are timeless. Deckard has the same vulnerabilities Han and Indy had - they take a lot of punishment - but they all defiantly joke through it. When you look at action movie history, you might look to John McLane in Die Hard as the first of a new breed of damageable smartmouth hero transitioning away from the big unstoppable guys like Arnold and Stallone, BUT I think Harrison Ford has a claim to having been this all along...

Favorite moments: "Boring conversation anyway" - Han Solo not a great fast-talker, but when all else fails, just shoots the console. Indiana Jones had me at his trap avoiding in Raiders, but who doesn't love his nonchalantly shooting a showy knife fighter from a distance? As for Deckard, I'd rather tell two Harrison Ford stories surrounding Blade Runner. One is how he droned the studio-mandated noir voice-over for a technician who didn't know or care who he was, leading to the last 30 years of my life saying "sushi: cold fish" as perhaps one of my most often used movie quotes. The other is in the making of documentary "Dangerous Days" (in the trailer for it in fact), where Edward James Olmos asks "Did you get Harrison", and they cut to Ford going "It was a... it was a bitch."

Extra credit: Through the 80s and 90s, Harrison Ford was the grounded hero you rooted for, whether his "dad" version of Jack Ryan, as Richard Kimble in The Fugitive, or the U.S. president in Air Force One. His genre cred led to natural casting for Cowboys & Aliens, Ender's Game and The Expendables 3 (I'm not saying anything about the quality of those films, but we know why he's in them). Obviously, Harrison Ford has done a lot of other things, and sometimes even actively tried to get away from the action hero roles I'm sure he was consistently offered. But they keep pulling him back in. Sometimes to the very roles that made him a star...

Geekmeter says: I have a very good feeling about this!

What are your favorite Harrison Ford memories?


Eric TF Bat said...

A very indirect memory. In my original home town of Canberra, the capital city of Australia, most of the suburbs are named for politicians and other notables. Frank Forde was Prime Minister for 8 days in 1945, and Peter Harrison was a city planner. When the Gungahlin region of Canberra was being laid out in the 1990s, there was a bit of rearrangement, and for a while the proposed suburbs of Harrison and Forde were next to each other. Perhaps fearing the possibility of direction signs being constantly stolen like the ones on Penny Lane and that place in Austria, they shifted them apart. Boo!


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