When it comes to Harrison Ford, most of us concluded years ago that the man is a Grade-A badass. When Hollywood didn't beat down his door with roles, he metaphorically removed the door and used it to support himself as a carpenter. When Hollywood started throwing him the best parts on the planet, Ford took to piloting so he could master the sky itself. In fact, he's used his flying skills to rescue a lost Boy Scout and a dehydrated hiker. One time he even rescued his own earlobe from obscurity by stabbing it with an earring. Truly, Harrison Ford can do anything.
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Except pull off an earring!
So, when we found out 72-year-old Harrison pulled through his third (!) plane crash last week, we all breathed a sigh of relief and thanked the gods of old men who flirt with danger that our favorite old man action hero was still alive.
But here's the problem: What if we've been fundamentally misreading Harrison Ford all along? What if we've projected this narrative of the everyman badass onto a guy who's actually a clumsy goofball? I say it's possible. But I wouldn't lead you down this dark path to a world where Harrison Ford wasn't cool without some evidence. Feel free to turn back now if you're chicken.
While most Hollywood stars spend their lives covering up their imperfections, Harrison Ford has worked like gangbusters to destroy the face the good Lord gave him. And it worked! Look at the clean-cut babyface Ford started out with:
That's a good face. Any other actor would have kept a face like that as safe as possible, but not Harrison. Within a few years of leaving college, Ford crashed his Volvo into a telephone pole while fumbling with the seatbelt, which left him with that chin scar that you can see from space. A few years later, he was filming an episode of the TV Western Gunsmoke and fell on his gun. That little oopsy cost him his front teeth. His nose has been broken "three or four times," which is probably why his nose looks like it's trying to make a run for it every now and then.
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What's going on with his face? Who nose.
By the time George Lucas cast Harrison in a small part in American Graffiti, Ford was pushing 30 and done giving a flip about his prospects in Hollywood. So he refused to cut his longish hair for a part in a movie that took place in the '50s. Between constant facial run-ins with solid surfaces and his determined refusal to care what anyone else thought about him, Harrison Ford accidentally created the perfect Han Solo. A stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder, in other words.
The fact that we ended up with Harrison Ford, Man Who Doesn't Care What You Think of Him is the good news. The bad news is coming.
I should probably clarify at this point that I'm writing this article with the assumption that Harrison Ford is on his way to a complete recovery from his recent plane crash. That he's already rescued at least 10 lost hikers who wandered into his hospital and that he's somehow managed to give himself another face scar from his hospital bed. That's the enigma that's Harrison Ford -- he's a clumsy hero.
"Oh, but Kristi Harrison," you're saying while suddenly realizing that my last name is Harrison and that's totally on purpose because I sought out someone named Harrison to marry and also my son would have been named "Harrison" if I hadn't married a Harrison, "He's an action star and action stars always have injuries on set." Yes, I know. But Harrison Ford started his injured-body-parts list a solid decade before anyone put him in an action movie -- and he's been beating his body up ever since. If Ford was a quirky young twenty-something-year-old girl, we'd call him "adorkable" and make sure he had lots of pratfalls in his cute sitcom called The New Girl. But he's not a young girl, he's Harrison Ford. So instead of "clumsy," we think he's "rugged." What if we're wrong?
When filming a fight scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, he tore his ACL and refused medical treatment. Then he came down with diarrhea and asked that an elaborate whip-vs.-sword scene be cut down to a single gunshot so he could get back to his toilet.
He definitely shot first.
During The Temple of Doom, Ford suffered spinal injuries while riding elephants. In The Fugitive he re-tore his ACL while running through the woods for his big escape scene. And when they rolled him out for the new Star Wars reboot, the door to the Millennium Falcon promptly fell on his leg and broke it. He was 71 at this point.
So, clearly, terrible things happen to Harrison Ford when he's on movie sets. But also, when he's not on movie sets. Like when his helicopter lost power in 1999 and his six-passenger plane crashed in Nebraska in 2000. And last week when his vintage WWII-era plane lost power in Santa Monica so he astutely landed it on a golf course. Good job, Southern California golf course for providing one of our most beloved movie stars a safe landing zone for his tiny, terrible, malfunctioning plane. We owe you one.
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Early in his career, Harrison Ford made the smart decision to let stuntmen do the heavy-lifting for his roles but kept himself in the game as long as he could. Remember, Ford didn't get his very first big role until he was 35 and didn't start the Indiana Jones work until he was almost 40. FORTY. I'm not even 40 and I have three stuntmen writing this article for me.
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This is my joke writer.
After the Millennium Falcon itself broke his body last summer, Ford was quick to reiterate that he's still in the game. "I keep on coming back for more. If it doesn't look real on the screen then an audience does not believe what it sees. Although I do my own running, jumping, and falling, I always try to keep myself from being hurt. So I know what will work and what won't." Except when he doesn't know when his plane will work and finds out the hard way. Harrison Ford is so convinced that audiences need to see him running and falling that he refuses to take the universe's clues that -- no, actually, we don't. No one in their right mind wants to see a 72-year-old man run or fall ever. We'd much rather see Harrison Ford rest his body in one of those chairs that kick back and have cup holders. Surely he has a few great-grandchildren he can coddle these days.
Maybe Ford knows something we don't -- specifically, that he's immortal. Yes, his body is aging, but maybe that's just a ruse so we don't figure out that planes and spinal injuries and broken space doors can't kill the man. All these crashes are a charade for our benefit so we don't get suspicious of his immortality. And that earring is so we don't get suspicious that he's still pretty cool after all.
Pack it up, everyone. We've figured out Harrison Ford.
How did these hyper-specific tropes spread so quickly?
The Hollywood rumor mill has been playing games with celebrity deaths for at least a century.
Most rich kids just want to be pop stars.