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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.