Harrison Ford, feeling 51 at 75, is happy and back as Rick Deckard
LOS ANGELES—Harrison Ford was, as usual, a man of a few words but actually quite funny and charming (in his own droll way) in a recent encounter with him at The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Los Angeles.
Asked how old he feels these days—after being told that noted 91-year-old broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough replied “51” when asked the same question by BBC—Harrison, 75, also answered, “Well, 51. Fifty-one will do, because I want to be someone like David Attenborough when I grow up. I am happy—that’s why I’m healthy.”
Often breaking into his famous lopsided grin, the veteran actor ended his answers with “Thank you,” to signal he’s done replying so, next question, please.
The man is back as Rick Deckard in “Blade Runner 2049,” Oscar-nominated director Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to the beloved sci-fi film, “Blade Runner.” To say that “Blade Runner 2049” is much-anticipated is an understatement.
We’ve seen Denis’ sequel to Ridley Scott’s masterpiece, but we’ve been requested by the filmmakers, including Harrison himself, to avoid spilling spoilers to ensure moviegoers’ pure enjoyment. We’re happy to oblige.
So, we’ll just quote from the film’s production notes: “Three decades after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard, a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.”
In addition to Fil-Am Dave Bautista, the cast includes Jared Leto, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri and Lennie James. Ridley was very much involved as an executive producer.
The screenplay was penned by Hampton Fancher (who cowrote the 1982 sci-fi classic) and Michael Green, based on characters from the novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick.
Let’s just say that “Blade Runner 2049” is big on the theme of memory, so we asked Harrison what his thoughts were about being in the original and in Denis’ film.
“I was grateful for the scripted opportunity, to take the character into a different place,” he began. “I was grateful for the 30 years that had passed. I was glad that there was this deep emotional story to be told. There’s spectacle and the film has an epic scale, but there’s intimate human emotion and I say human in the ‘Blade Runner’ way—it’s complicated and rich. It’s a pleasure for an actor to have that emotional access to the audience.”
Still on memory, Harrison shared a childhood moment that impacted him the most. “I have a strong memory of my aunt coming into my room when I was about 3 years old and telling me that I had a brother. My life from that moment on included a brother. Not just a brother—my brother. Next question.”
Asked what he would bring if he would be gone away for a long time, Harrison answered, “In general, it would be good to have a dog, rather than a cat.”
He said that in real life, “I have three dogs. I used to have four.” No, he does not offer them sips of whiskey.
But, he does drink whiskey. “Yeah, on rare occasions, I would have a sip of whiskey. Just a sip.”
In revisiting a world populated by humans and replicants, Harrison offered his thoughts: “I will remind people who haven’t seen the first film that what we call a replicant isn’t a robot or a mechanical construction. But, it’s biologically indistinguishable from us. The thing that distinguishes a replicant is the way in which they’re made. Not in the old-fashioned fun way, but they’re manufactured in a medical factory. They’re owned and they are property. They are merchandise.
“The thing with science that we posited in the first film has proved to be eerily on the mark. We now know, with crisper technology, other methods of splicing genes and our understanding of DNA, our capacity has advanced to be able to start the growth of a human being in a petri dish.
“It’s only the moral imposition that keeps us from completing the job. So, that morality is what keeps us human. And that’s important in science. We can’t use science just as congress. We watch people play around with the reality of science for their own purposes.”
Since “Blade Runner” is set in 2049, when Los Angeles has radically changed due to climate change, Harrison, who’s on the board of Conservation International—a nonprofit org dedicated to protecting nature as a source of food, freshwater, jobs and a stable climate—was asked about this topic.
“Just to get back to the film, it’s not a message film,” he stressed. “The movie has a really interesting construction. There are many things to consider that aren’t much spoken of, but are part of the visual imagining of a future situation. One of those things is environmental in nature.
“So, yes, my organization has been successful in protecting nature, but for the benefit of humanity. Nature can live without us, but we as human beings cannot live without nature. The environment is critical to our lives. We can see (in the film) some of the effects of not maintaining a healthy world.”
“My favorite part of the city is home, thank you very much,” he replied about Los Angeles, where he has lived with wife, actress Calista Flockhart, for many years. “What I want the city to look like (in the future) is a place where there’s an equitable distribution of opportunities, and where we have not spoiled the environment.”
The actor, also known for his iconic roles as Indiana Jones and Han Solo, is a pilot who made headlines last February, when he mistakenly landed on a taxiway, instead of a runway.
“I only fly to get to work on movies,” he said about his flying trips these days. “I love the challenge of flying and the blend of freedom and responsibility that it represents.”
The thespian, who met Calista at the 2002 Golden Globes, was asked what advice he would give to someone attending the awards show, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary. He quipped with his trademark smile, “Well, unless they’re already married, I think it would be great if they could meet their wife there.”
On how he felt when he received the Golden Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille Award, also on that fateful night in 2002, Harrison cracked, “I didn’t realize at the time that that would be the only one (I would get).” He has been nominated four times for best actor honors but hasn’t won.
About fame—on whether it makes it difficult to find out what is real and what’s not—Harrison pointed out, “No, it’s an opportunity to help you find out who you really are, which isn’t necessarily what people think you are.”
Looking back at his career, what is he proudest of? “I think about how lucky I have been,” he emphasized. “I have worked with extraordinary people who have given me extraordinary opportunities. They have given me fulfillment beyond my wildest imagination. They have given me purpose.”
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