An Action Icon Turns 75: Looking Back At Some Of Harrison Ford’s Most Memorable Roles

Harrison Ford is one of the most recognizable actors in Hollywood and has been in some amazing films over the course of his career. The carpenter-turned-actor recently celebrated his 75th birthday, making this a great time to take a look back at some of his most iconic roles.

Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
Harrison Ford-Han Solo (ANH)
‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ [Credit: Lucasfilm]

When it came time to cast the role of space-pirate Han Solo, it was Ford’s role in American Graffiti (1973) and his working relationship with George Lucas that landed him the part. Although it’s nearly impossible to imagine anyone else as Han Solo, there was originally consideration of Christopher Walken for the role, an idea that, thankfully, was eventually dropped. It was the role of Han Solo that propelled Ford into stardom and made him one of Hollywood’s most desired leading men.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Harrison Ford- Raiders of the Lost Ark (2)
‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ [Credit: Lucasfilm]

Due to the huge success of Star Wars, Ford was now a hot commodity in Hollywood. Although Steven Spielberg was keen on Ford to play the role of Indiana Jones, George Lucas was hesitant to cast the actor for a third time, wanting to branch out and offer the role to other actors. Tom Selleck was officially offered the part but had to decline due to commitments to TV show Magnum PI, thus bringing Ford back into the running. Lucas eventually caved and Ford became the Indy we all know and love.

Blade Runner (1982)
Harrison Ford- Blade Runner (1982)
‘Blade Runner’ [Credit: Warner Bros.]

Due to concerns over staying true to the source material (“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” by Philip K. Dick), the casting of the lead role of Rick Deckard was a lengthy process. After considering numerous other actors for the part, it was Ford’s work in Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Steven Spielberg’s personal recommendation that convinced director Ridley Scott to pick Harrison Ford. Blade Runner is widely considered one of the best science fiction films ever made and showed that Ford could bring more dramatic depth to his characters.

Patriot Games (1992)
Harrison Ford- Patriot Games 2
‘Patriot Games’ [Credit: Paramount Pictures]

After making two more Indiana Jones films and winning a nomination for an Academy Award for his role in Witness (1985), Ford went on to star as CIA agent Jack Ryan in Patriot Games, a spy thriller based off a Tom Clancy novel of the same name. The success of this film led to the sequel, Clear and Present Danger (1994), being released not long after.

The Fugitive (1993)
Harrison Ford- The Fugitive
‘The Fugitive’ [Credit: Warner Bros.]

Based off of a 1960’s TV show of the same name, The Fugitive was Ford’s next major project. The 51-year-old Ford was, once again, not the first choice to play the film’s main protagonist, Dr. Richard Kimble, but was offered the part after Alec Baldwin turned it down and several other actors were ruled out. The film went on to be nominated for several Academy Awards.

Air Force One (1997)
Harrison Ford- Air Force One
‘Air Force One’ [Credit: Columbia Pictures]

After several unsuccessful movies in the mid-90s, Ford came back in a big way as an action star in Air Force One, this time playing American President James Marshall. Kevin Costner was originally offered the lead role but, due to other film commitments, suggested Ford for the part.

An Ongoing Legacy
Harrison Ford at ComicCon
Harrison Ford at Comic-Con 2017

Harrison Ford starred in several movies throughout the 2000s, but few had any lasting impact or major financial success. Ford, however, proves he is far from finished with acting as demonstrated by Star Wars: The Force Awakens and his reprisal of the role of Han Solo, the upcoming Blade Runner: 2049 due out in October, and the as yet untitled fifth Indiana Jones film due out in 2020.


Author: Ryan Northrup

I'm recent graduate of McMaster University's history program in Ontario, Canada and I have a passion for a good story.

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