We sometimes talk these days of ‘losing’ actors to the Marvel machine, as if it’s a new phenomenon. But since the dawn of the blockbuster franchise with movies such as Jaws and Star Wars in the 70s, actors have wrestled with being typecast and trying to stretch themselves in dramatic roles. This was even true of Harrison Ford, who wanted to prove that there was more to him than Han Solo and Indiana Jones during the 70s and 80s.
A LA Times article from 1990 refers to the “well-upholstered captivity” for actors in these kinds of roles, and says that Ford has been trying to “remind us all that he can act very well without a laser gun or a bullwhip in hand.”
Ford explained; “I was desperate to find some thing very different from Han Solo. Heroes (1977) was it. It was a small part in a small film which starred Henry Winkler (who has had his own issues being typecast because of The Fonz, but is now receiving critical acclaim for Barry) as a Vietnam vet with problems. But I tried to offer proof that I had at least one other string to my bow.”
Ford said that it was a relief to not have a stunt-heavy performance; “There was more than physicality involved. You had a chance to reveal a sensitivity. It’s nice to stand and listen; sometimes it’s all the better to do nothing.”
Presumed Innocent director Alan J. Pakula said; “I don’t know another actor of Harrison’s stature who’s so willing, so eager even, to take risks.” But Ford added that taking risks is what he’s about; “It’s been my M.O. ever since I’ve had enough success to have an M.O.”