Ford: I’d rather have the privacy of an ordinary guy

- Raymond de Asis Lo L.A. Correspondent -
"I would prefer to be anonymous and to have the privacy of an anonymous person," declares Harrison Ford during the press junket for Warner Bros.’ action-thriller Firewall held at the opulent Regent Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills last weekend.

The actor returns to the big screen after a hiatus of nearly three years. His last film, Hollywood Homicide, was released in 2003.

In 2004, he did a cameo in a quasi-snowboarding documentary starring his son Malcolm in Water to Wine.

In Firewall, he stars as Jack Stanfield, a top computer security expert who finds his life and family in serious peril when a group of merciless thieves invades his house and virtually takes all of them hostage unless Jack finds a way to transfer $100-M from the bank where he works to an offshore account the resourceful robbers have set up.

This is a return to familiar form for the 63-year-old actor whose last five movies have been mostly of the light-comedy variety.

Amazingly fit and seemingly ageless, Ford still does his own stunts. "He’s like a rock," says co-star Paul Bettany (Wimbledon, Master and Commander) of Ford during our own interview with him. "I saw the man thrown at the window seven times and each time he landed on his head, he got up and rebuilt the window with the set guys!" Ford is a carpenter.

"He’s very kind and very lovely to me. People don’t get how funny he is because he is very laconic," adds Bettany.

Dressed in relaxed jeans and sporting a trendy silver earring, Ford met with this writer and other journalists from six other countries to talk about his movie and career that has spanned nearly 40 years. He speaks in an almost hushed voice that would have been inaudible if you are 10 feet away.

"I don’t have to do this but I choose to because I am the person best equipped to bring attention to the work of all the other people who have invested their time, energy, intellect and ambition to this movie," he says.

Told of what Bettany said earlier, Ford says: "He’s talking about the fight scene. I have the window built for me. I want to have this moment wherein we go from inside to the outside in an interesting way. I thought it would be more interesting if I get thrown out the window."

"There’s a lot more to acting than just the fight scenes. But, in fact, I don’t work hard. It’s just that I’ve been doing them for so long that the physics of it is in my bones. It is choreography. It is physical storytelling. It’s something I’ve been doing over so many years. It’s not difficult. It’s important to do it because I have built this special relationship with the audience and I want to sustain that throughout the film."

It is this respect for his audience that has endeared the actor to millions of fans all over the world. In a listing made by the Guinness Book of World Records, Ford is entered as the Highest Box-Office Grossing Actor with over $5-B worldwide gross of his movies.

"I have spent years in a relationship with the audience where they have not said, ‘He’s acting,’ and I haven’t burdened them with extraneous performance," Ford explains his immense popularity. "I work to make the movie work."

"I love the work. I love pretending to be somebody else. It is a craft. It is a skill. Every artist needs to have some craft or skill. There are actors who are able to disappear in a character and they are called character actors and their parts character parts. I have been lucky to stumble into the role of the leading man – lucky, in that every picture needs one."

"And that job has its own rules. It has its own utility and object that is different to the character actor. I enjoy character parts when they come my way like the captain in K-19: The Widowmaker. The audience is manifestly less interested in seeing me do that kind of work."

"I have, over a period of time, obtained a cultural utility, a purpose for which they select the movie that I am in. And I feel it is limiting to some extent."

The actor also enjoys a great deal of respect from the press. Initially, his relationship with Ally McBeal’s Calista Flockhart drew massive talk but it all eventually died down amid the onslaught of more publicity-hungry starlets.

"It is the deal you make with the devil. You want to work here. You want to be successful. These are the effects. Deal with it. And I deal with it by trying to be accommodating. Those people are my customers in this profession," says the actor on how he feels losing his anonymity.

"Paranoia is a state of mind which is clinically abnormal. And I am not clinically abnormal. Paranoia does not define how I behave and I conduct myself in the world. I am not paranoid. I am aware, I am attentive but I am not paranoid."

"Basically I want to be aware of what people are saying about me if I need to take action or to redress some grievance."

At his age, Ford expects to continue on acting. He is currently working on a movie called Manhunt, which is about the story on how John Wilkes Booth (the serial killer who terrorized America in 2002) was captured. And he is also in talks with Spielberg for a possible addition to the Indiana Jones series.

"I love to work with Steven (Spielberg). I think it’s a great character (Indiana Jones) and obviously the audience is there for it. They have showed me the script and it’s more likely to happen than ever before."

"I don’t have any plans to retire. I like my work. I like what I do and I love the people I work with," reveals Ford.

"It’s better to have some success than never to have some success because that success affords me to continue to work. If you are not successful, you don’t get the opportunity to continue to work."

opens Feb. 8.

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