Harrison Ford is like Michael Jackson. He isn’t a musician, but he is a genre unto himself. Michael Jackson was so influential to other artists and musicians that he spawned a slew of imitators and worshippers who are pop stars and R&B stars, but really the genre they work in is Michael Jackson. Consider Justin Timberlake, Usher, Justin Bieber and the like. They are stars who grew up watching Jackson and wanted to be him. They based their songs and their dance moves on his and each has been, at one point or another, hailed as the new Michael Jackson.
Harrison Ford is the same. So many characters in movies, books and TV are referred to as a “Harrison Ford type,” “like Han Solo,” or “like Indiana Jones.” The man has created an archetype that other actors imitate out of love, respect, or because eventually we’ll need a new a Harrison Ford. Look at Brendan Fraser in The Mummy, trying his hardest to do an Indiana Jones impression and failing. Or Chris Pratt in Jurassic World, who wants to be Solo and Jones but ends up just being a guy in a vest who’s interested in old things. Much like the examples with Michael Jackson up top, the love and talent is there, but the simple X-factor that makes Jackson Jackson and Ford Ford isn’t present.
The X-factor with Ford is pure, unfiltered, undiluted charm. He wears a constant knowing smirk that lets you know he’s in on the joke and you can be too. He is seemingly in constant flirt mode with every character he encounters. He oozes affability and somehow dangles on the precipice of smug but never goes over. A lot of times when actors attempt their Harrison Ford movie they end up coming across as goofy or smug. Ford walks a fine line between the two. Han Solo is a great example of a character who can be cool as ice, or delve into slapstick and panic. Empire Strikes Back is a great character piece for Ford, as he spends most of the movie trying to keep his cool as his ship keeps making a fool of him, but he never descends into annoying mugging.
Admittedly, the past few decades haven’t been hugely kind of Ford’s career and he’s produced some stinkers, but on the other hand, in his dry spells he also produced What Lies Beneath, Air Force One, and The Fugitive, three fantastic movies amidst a sea of, well, shite. Interestingly, in these three movies he didn’t play anything like Solo or Jones. What Lies Beneath was his first villainous role, Air Force One had him playing someone a lot more frantic than the usual calm, and The Fugitive had him a million miles away from the assured cool of Han Solo.
It’s been a shame that Ford disappeared for so long into movies like Hollywood Homicide and Random Hearts. The talent has always been there, occasionally rising to the surface, but the movie choices or laziness has tainted his legacy slightly as it’s been nearly fifteen years since it seemed like he gave a shit. That is what makes The Force Awakens so exciting though. Ford looks like he’s ready to really go for it. His interviews, press appearances, and scenes at comic con show a man who is excited by the prospect of getting back into the Millennium Falcon, and I can’t have been the only one who when he made his appearance in the second Force Awakens teaser trailer let out a loud noise somewhere between a cheer, a sob, and a new sound that I will call a Ford Howl.
If you were to name your top five movie heroes chances are Harrison Ford has played at least two of them, or more depending on your love for John Book in Witness. There are very few other actors who have achieved this and who have such iconic characters next to their names, which is why Harrison Ford is our newest Cinema Saint. Also, Ford has saved lives with his piloting skills, is a great late night talk show guest, and is responsible for the following photograph, which is so cool it made my newly made cup of tea go cold.