10 Best Harrison Ford Characters
I have always been a huge Harrison Ford fan. Of course, as a big science fiction geek, it is hard not to be. He has been immortalized in two of the greatest science fiction stories of all time and portrayed several characters that have become movie legends. In honor of Ford turning 70, I decided to compile a list of my top 10 characters that Harrison Ford has played over his very long and successful career.
10. Henry Turner
Movie: Regarding Henry (1991)
- John Leguizamo received hate mail, because his character shot Harrison Ford.
- Ford almost declined the role because Henry was a lawyer and he had played a layer in his last film, Presume Innocent.
About: Successful lawyer, Henry Turner, is shot during a robbery. As he recovers his lost memories, speech and motor skills, he does not like what he finds. With the help of his wife and daughter, he not only heals physically but becomes the man he would like to be.
Why Top 10: Regarding Henry was not one of Harrison Ford’s best films. It didn’t break box office records or receive critical acclaim. Yet, this remains one of my favorite non action, Harrison Ford films. Watching Henry discover who he was before being shot and not liking what he finds grabs me every time I watch it. What I loved most about this performance was the way in which he rediscovers the world and enjoyed all its simple wonders.
9. Mike Pomeroy
Movie: Morning Glory (2010)
- This is the first time Harrison Ford has worked with Diane Keaton.
About: Becky, a young workaholic morning television show producer, is hired to save a struggling morning show. In an attempt to boost ratings, she hires Mike Pomeroy who brings a respectable journalistic integrity to the show and his huge ego. As Becky struggles to manage larger than life personalities and a failing show, she must also find balance in her own life.
Why Top 10: This may seem like a strange pick for favorite character but I feel like it goes a long way in Harrison Ford choosing roles that are appropriate for him, instead of the lead. This would be one of the few times a movie with Harrison would not involve his head taking up more than half the promotional poster. (Don’t believe me? Check out the movie posters next to his other characters.) In Morning Glory, Ford captured Pomeroy’s arrogance, discontent and passion for news perfectly. He provided an excellent foil for the star Rachel McAdam, while still remaining likable to the audience.
8. Woodrow Dolarhyde
Movie: Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
- Harrison Ford did not want to wear a hat, because he was worried about similarities with his famous Fedora wearing, archaeologist character.
About: A man wakes up with amnesia and has a strange device strapped to his wrist. This advanced technology does not fit in 1873 Arizona. However, this cowboy will slowly regain his memories as he leads a posse to save a town’s people from Alien invaders.
Why Top 10: Cowboys and Aliens put Harrison Ford back into familiar ground battling aliens and not interdimensional beings. Also, the gritty Woodrow was much more believable than his earlier cowboy, Tommy, in The Frisco Kid.
Jimmy Kimmel Sketch
I just thought this video was funny and appropriate for the article.
7. President James Marshall
Movie: Air Force One (1997)
Budgets: $85,000,000 (estimate)
- Harrison Ford has said Gary Oldman is one of his favorite on-screen nemeses.
- The role was written for Kevin Costner but he could not do the role because he was working on The Postman (Oops!)
About: While in Russian, the President of the United States gives a tough speech against terrorism because of their recent success in bringing down General Ivan Radek. Radek loyalist then hijack Air Force One on its return flight home, in the hopes of freeing their leader. President James Marshall defies protocol and refuses to leave the plane without his family. The President uses his military training to save his family and take back his plane.
Why Top 10: Harrison Ford as President of the United States. This Commander in Chief loves football, debates beer (scene deleted from movie), was a Medal of Honor recipient, and will not negotiate with terrorist. The President is supposed to be the first person off the plane during an emergency, instead he is the last to leave (alive). This role was destined to make the list. Harrison Ford is not afraid of getting roughed up. He told Gary Oldman to hit him during one of their fight sequence. He also has no problems flexing his star power. When Wolfgang Petersen could not get access to the real Air Force One, Ford called the White House and got him a tour.
6. Dr. Richard Kimble
Movie: The Fugitive (1993)
- The composite picture from Richard Kimble’s Medical School was Harrison Ford’s yearbook picture from Ripon College.
- Harrison Ford did a cameo scene for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, while The Fugitive was still in production. That bearded cameo inspired George Lucas to create another Indiana Jones film, set in the 1950s.
About: Dr. Richard Kimble was wrongly imprisoned for his wife’s murder. When the train transporting him crashes, Kimble used the opportunity to escape. Rather than attempting to disappear forever, he tries to find his wife’s real killer. While trying to evade police and find clues, Richard discovers this was not just a random murder or robbery.
Why Top 10: Despite having never seen an episode of the 1963-67 television series, Harrison Ford was able to bring Dr. Richard Kimble to life for the big screen version of The Fugitive. Completely dedicated to his craft, Ford did not have surgery till the end of filming so his character would keep the limp he had acquired after injuring ligaments in his leg during one of the film shoots.
5. John Book
Movie: Witness (1985)
- Harrison Ford worked as a carpenter before his acting career took off.
- The line “Honey, that’s great coffee,” was a reference to Harrison Ford talking about not being able to land Folger’s commercials, because he couldn’t say, “Honey, that’s a great cup of coffee”.
About: The only witness to a murder is an Amish boy visiting the city with his mother. When detective John Brooks discovers that the murders are his fellow Philadelphia police officers, he flees to the their Amish community to keep them safe. While they are hiding he must adapt to their culture, as well as work though his growing affections for the boy’s mother.
Why Top 10: Harrison Ford’s work on Witness in would lead to his first (and up to this moment only) Oscar nomination. As a detective hiding out in an Amish community, Harrison Ford got to put his carpentry skills to use and raise a barn along with a performance of a lifetime. His portrayal of John Book would allow Ford to successfully branch out from the science fiction and fantasy genre he had been best known for.
3. Rick Deckard
Movie: Blade Runner (1982)
- Ford has said Blade Runner was one of the most frustrating films of his career.
- As a result of Blade Runner, Ford became a product spokesperson for Japanese electronics in the 80s.
About: In the future, replicants (androids) are created for dangerous or menial jobs off world. These replicants are banned from Earth and when they do try to hide, Blade Runners are called into retire (destroy) them. When a violent group of replicants escape to earth, Rick Deckard is called in to clean up. As Deckard chases these escaped androids through LA, he discovers his own humanity and the audience starts to question how human he really is.
Why Top 10: Blade Runner was a production nightmare. The majority of the crew hated working with Ridley Scott. Ford had such a terrible time with this film that he refused to talk about it till the 2007 DVD documentary. It was rumored that Harrison Ford sabotaged the voiceover by doing a horrible job in his delivery. Even the debate of Deckard being an android or human could not be agreed upon. Despite all these negatives, I had to put Rick Deckard from Blade Runner as my number three because it has gone on to become a science fiction cult classic and will live on forever.
4. Jack Ryan
Movies: Patriot Games (1992) & Clear and Present Danger (1994)
Budgets: Patriot Games $42,000,000 / Clear and Present Danger 45,000,000
Salary: Patriot Games: $9,000,000 / Clear and Present Danger: $10,000,000
- At the beginning of Patriot Games Jack Ryan’s room number is 713, a reference to Harrison Ford’s birthday on July 13th.
- Harrison Ford did his own stunt driving for the final escape in the SUV attack sequence.
About: Jack Ryan is the main character in a series of novels by Tom Clancy. This ex-marine was injured during a training exercise and left the military. He took a job in Wall Street and became a millionare. Always a patriot, he began working with the CIA and would eventually become President of the United States. When Harrison Ford took on the role of Jack Ryan, he was a CIA Analyst. Patriot Games took on a more personal story with his family put in danger when a renegade faction of the IRA goes after his family in retaliation for his interference with their assassination. For Clear and Present Danger, Jack is still working for the CIA but is now Acting Deputy Director. When he investigates a covert war being waged against a drug cartel in Columbia, he makes sure the honorable action are taken the the truth is exposed.
Why Top 10: Three actors have played the character of Jack Ryan from the Tom Clancy Novels. (Alec Baldwin: The Hunt for Red October & Ben Affleck: The Sum of All Fears) Harrison Ford is the only actor to have played him in two films. Alec Baldwin did a great job but he only got the part after Harrison Ford originally turned it down because Ford felt the script was more about Captain Ramius than Jack Ryan. When scheduling issues prevented Alec Baldwin from returning, Harrison Ford accepted the role of Jack Ryan in the next two movies. (Patriot Games / Clear and Present Danger). When people think of Tom Clancy’s character of Jack Ryan, they think of Harrison Ford. (Note: Harrison Ford is my favorite actor to play Jack Ryan, The Hunt for Red October was my favorite film of the series.)
*As I was about to publish this article it was announced thAT Chris Pine was going to be in the next Untitled Jack Ryan Project. Since this is early in production we shall see. However, I am confident Harrison Ford will still be THE Jack Ryan. Not only do I have confidence in Ford but I have never found much depth in Pine’s character work.
2. Han Solo
Movie: Star Wars Franchise
Budgets: New Hope $11 mil. / Empire $18 mil. / Jedi $32.5 mil.
Salary: New Hope: $10,000 / Jedi: $500,000
- Harrison Ford was not auditioning for this role. He was cast from his reading lines for other actors during their screen tests.
- Harrison Ford’s friend Billy Dee Williams auditioned for Han Solo. He was cast as Lando Calrissian in the following film, Empire Strikes Back.
About: When we first meet Han Solo on Tatooine, he is a smuggler that Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker hire for transportation to Alderaan. This smuggler, who George Lucas described as, “a loner who realizes the importance of being part of a group and helping for the common good”, would befriend our band of heroes and join them in their quest to bring down the evil Galactic Empire. Along the way he helped blow up 2 Death Stars, become a general in the Rebel Alliance and fell in love with a princess.
Why Top 10: Harrison Ford made his screen debut as a bellboy in Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round and formed his successful relationship with George Lucas in American Graffiti. However, it would be his portrayal of Han Solo in Star Wars that would make him a star and propel Ford to be one of the biggest box office actors of all time. In a galaxy full of jedi knights, alien species, rebels and a galactic empire, Ford’s arrogant space pirate with a heart of gold made not only a princess fall in love with him but audience members from around the world as well. Flying the Millennium Falcon with his faithful Wookie co-pilot at his side, Han Solo would become one of the most popular characters in an ever expanding universe.
1. Indiana Jones
Movie: Indiana Jones Franchise
Budgets: Raiders $18 mil. / Temple $28 mil. / Crusade $48 mil. / Crystal Skull 185 mil.
Salary: Crystal Skull 65 mil. (cut of box office)
- Lucas did not want to cast Harrison Ford because of fears of Raiders becoming a Harrison Ford movie and he had been in so many of his previous films (Star Wars/American Graffiti)
- Indiana Jones is one of Harrison Ford’s favorite characters, that he has portrayed.
About: Dr. Henry Jones Jr. is a professor at Marshall College and a famous archeologist. He was modeled after the 1930s treasure hunters found in pulp fiction. As a young boy he was raised by a single father. There were obviously a lot of issues in their relationship, since as a grown man, he went by the name of the family dog, instead of his given name, which was the same as his father. His quest for ancient treasures to unlock the mysteries of the past has pitted him against Nazis, religious zealots, and communist.
Why Top 10: Indiana Jones and Harrison Ford are one in the same. In 1981, the world was introduced to this whip wielding, adventurous archaeologist decked out in his fedora and leather jacket. The character instantly became an icon and in 1989 Indy’s hat and jacket were placed in the Smithsonian, by 1999 the bullwhip was added as well. Harrison Ford perfectly embodied this character. It is hard to believe that Harrison Ford was only cast three weeks before they began shooting principal photography. It is safe to say Indy would not have been immortalized if Tom Selleck, Nick Nolte, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, or Jack Nicholson had gotten to role. All of these actors were considered at one point before filming began. In 2010 Time Magazine ranked Indiana Jones the 2nd greatest fictional character of all time.
What are your favorite Harrison Ford characters?
If you have a character not on the list, feel free to mention it in the comment box.