The Enduring Appeal Of Harrison Ford
A former carpenter with a passion for craftsmanship, Harrison Ford has had the opportunity, over the years, to buy the toys of his dreams. In an open field on his Wyoming ranch sits his Bell 206 Jet Ranger Helicopter; from the garage he can choose one of six motorcycles -- four BMWs, two Harley-Davidsons -- to ride around Jackson Hole. His five airplanes include a state-of-the-art jet and a 1956 de Havilland Beaver, something of an aviation classic. So it was with some trepidation that screenwriter Melissa Mathison, Ford's wife of 17 years, presented her motor-mad, but very particular, husband with a 1966 Austin Healy 3000 for his 58th birthday on July 13.
"It's great getting old"
She needn't have worried. "I went out for something and was going back to the house, and Melissa walked along with me," Ford recalls. "And it was sitting around in the driveway with a bow on it. I was delighted." A bottle of Dom Pérignon from a pal provided the icing on the birthday cake. Says Ford: "It's great getting old."
Like his racing-green Healy, Ford has clocked some mileage -- and taken his share of dings along the way -- but his motor is still purring nicely, thank you, and the body's in great shape. Check out the toned torso he bares in his latest movie, the supernatural thriller What Lies Beneath. Not surprisingly, as he has gotten older, his workouts have become more serious. "I'm probably fitter now than I was when I was 35," he says. One strength has stayed exactly the same: Ford's knack for finding the Everyman in the Hero and the Hero in the average Joe, Jack or Indiana. His 37 films have earned more than $3 billion at the box office; 7 are among the Top 40 moneymakers of all time. "In my opinion he is one of our very best actors," says Sydney Pollack, who directed Ford in 1995's Sabrina and last year's Random Hearts. "Yeah, he's cool, and yeah, he's tough, and yeah, he can punch guys. But he can also hurt like hell when he gets hit. And we recognize he has given us back the truth."
Ford, famously, doesn't put much stock in his own mystique. You need not look further than the decor of his private office at the ranch to confirm his reputation as a no-nonsense guy's guy: wood floors covered with Navajo rugs, a bookshelf stocked with The Flyfishing Guide to Wyoming, 24 years of copies of Fine Woodworking magazine and, in the pantry, a bottle of McCallan's, his favorite 18-year-old single-malt Scotch. "I've never had lofty goals," he says. "I just try and do the best job I can on whatever comes my way." Right now, though, America's most popular actor is out of a job -- and not because he's holding out for Hamlet. "I just haven't read anything I want to do," says Ford, who passed on The Patriot because "it boiled the American Revolution down to one guy wanting revenge." Ford has had enough of the retribution line. "I'm also tired of films that put children in jeopardy," he adds. "They inure us to real pain and real suffering and real solutions."
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