Sunday, February 05, 2006

Harrison Ford - Firewall Q & A


What up, yo? it's been a minute since I've put anything up on here -- not because I haven't had anything to say; time's just been of the essence as of late but whatever. I thought I'd slink back on by posting a Q & A from a roundtable I participated in with one of my favorite actors -- Harrison Ford. Dude's been out of the limelight for a bit, so what better way to return to the blog than with a little back and forth with Han Solo/Indiana Jones? Notoriously secretive about his personal life, I always liked dude's straightforward interview style -- he doesn't mince words. It's been said that you should never meet your heroes because they always fail to meet your expectations, so when I walked into the Regent Beverly Wilshire I initially thought "I have a bad feeling about this" - to quote Captain Solo when entering the Death Star. Turns out everything was cooler than a fan (including a stint where one person got ahead of himself and got called on the carpet for it)...here's some of what went down during the junket for his upcoming film Firewall.


Q: Coming from the world of carpentry as you do, what's your relationship with technology?

HF: I've been using computers for years for a variety of tasks just like [everyone else] as a calendar, phonebook -- all those types of things -- printing letters. Flight training and flight planning software is on computers so I'm fairly comfortable with computers. What was important in this case was to test the theory of our technology -- on people in the banking community and people in the computer world. And we found something that [the studio] agreed upon as a mechanism and if they were at all kind of iffy on whether or not our concept would work, the one proviso that we hadn't given them right at the beginning was that the family was being held with a gun to their heads -- now would it work? [laughs] ...and if you go further and you say to them -- I was talking to a guy that does the job [in real life] that I'm portraying [on screen] and I asked him 'what do you do about your own personal security?' and he says: 'well, not much.' I think some of them may reconsider how much personal security is necessary when you're holding that kind of a hand of cards...you know, we all have alarms in our houses and most of us don't set them.

Q: Do people lock their doors in rural Wyoming?

HF: People know where my house is, I sure don't want to tell them that I don't lock my doors. [laughter]...rural people, in general, don't lock their doors.

Q: I think the computer sequences in movies tend to be boring a lot of the time, now you have the good fortune to be in two movies where the computer scenes have been exciting - this one and Clear and Present Danger. What's the secret of making these scenes work?

HF: I make it not about computers. I make it about people. The computer's a mechanism but the story involves people -- people's emotions, people's understanding, people's gaining knowledge, people's attention -- that's why we were running out of paper for the printer in Clear and Present Danger...details of humanity [are important to the thrust of the story].

Q: Do you keep in shape just generally -- in case you're doing another action role?

HF: I don't do a lot of physical training. I suffered a lucky genetic accident -- I play a little bit of tennis but that's about it. When I'm going to do a fight scene I stretch a little bit beforehand...it's not about strength. Again, it's about acting. It's about knowing where the camera could be best placed to capture the energy of a particular mood in a physical scene like [fighting].

Q: Could you talk a little bit about working with Paul Bettany? He was excellent as the bad guy.

HF: Yes, he's a remarkable actor. He has all of the tools -- the whole kit, I think. He's got really solid intellectual equipment and knows how to understand a story and the problem of making a film. He's a very skilled actor and he's a very instinctive actor - a very professional demeanor. I think he conducted himself beautifully and it was a great pleasure for me to work with him. [speaking metaphorically] We were playing a game of catch in a lot of the scenes and he pays attention. He knows how hard to throw the ball back. He knows how to work.

Q: Why do you think you're so often drawn to these physical movies -- the action adventures?

HF: This is not a physical movie. This is a movie that has only very brief moments of physical confrontation. It's a movie about suspense and tension. It's not an action film, its a thriller with a brief bit of action. But I'm drawn to all kinds of films. I like to participate in a variety of different genres. I like to do something different. I want to work on the best dramatic material that I can and it often happens -- that when you tell stories of conflict between characters -- it comes to a physical confrontation. That is the nature of film.

Q: Could you talk about the house you got while you were shooting this movie?

HF: I didn't buy a house.

Q: Can you comment on Indiana Jones 4 and how your role will be played, given that you're getting older?

HF: I don't know how to relate to that...I can't tell you anything about Indiana Jones 4 but you just saw [Firewall] -- I hope you saw the film -- in which I performed physically to an extent sufficient for Indiana Jones.

Q: Has that been a frustrating process, though? Because you liked Frank Darabonte's script and [the studio] has ordered yet another rewrite.

HF: Did I? No, I said that I was anxious to make another Indiana Jones film -- I didn't say anything specifically about Frank's script. Not because I didn't like it or I did like it -- I didn't say anything specific about the script.

Q: Is there a certain point where you just say "enough already, we're not going to get it?"

HF: Why? The audience is there, anxious for the film -- I believe. Everybody involved is anxious to make the film again, make another Indiana Jones movie.

Q: Talk about being aware of where the camera is placed when you're shooting an action sequence -- you seem to have a really good grasp of it and I wonder if you've ever thought about directing a film yourself.

HF: I'm sure you have my glib answer memorized. [laughs] No, I haven't. I like what I'm doing. I enjoy what I'm doing.

Q: Why do you love acting?

HF: Because it's a complicated problem...I've spent my life acquiring some understanding of the process. Because it's challenging to me. Because I get to participate as an actor in film making which is a group activity and I like working with people on a problem. And because they pay me money to do it. [laughs]

Q: What have you found to be the biggest change in Hollywood over the years?

HF: I haven't been a student of Hollywood -- I don't pay very much attention to it businesswise, except to what presents itself to me. I'm not a generalist.

Q: How about the change in the ways that films are being made now compared to when you first started out?

HF: As far as I know, they haven't. If you want to talk about CGI or something specific, yeah, there's been a change in what is possible to present to an audience on film and the way of getting there that may have lead to an investment in technology that overwhelms humanity. I was just talking about fight scenes with no story in them -- it's just all about pow, bam. You see fists flying through the [camera] frame and you don't know what the hell is going on or where you are in the room, where you are in the midst of the fight, who's winning how it feels to be involved in it. So, the potential for going off into the world of bigger and bigger effect may, in some cases, diminish audience/human participation in the event. I guess that's a change, if it may be.

Q: Has this movie changed the way you look at your own personal security?

HF: No.

Q: Your character in Working Girl was quite enjoyable. Are you going to do another romantic comedy any time soon?

HF: Yeah. If the audience is interested in seeing a romance with a 63 year-old leading man. [laughs] Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau both made films that involve romance into their seventies -- it's all about the suitability of the script, the suitability of the casting. I like to do comedy and it doesn't necessarily have to be a romantic comedy. But I enjoy, as I said, variety different genres.

Q: I haven't seen it but how much does Firewall's preview trailer give away? If you'll remember, there was a lot of contraversy over What Lies Beneath and the fact that that movie's trailer gave away the whole story.

HF: I'm surprised you haven't seen the trailer, it's ubiquitous [laughs] and very well concieved. It has very little to do with the film, in a way. It's a different style and a different way of storytelling. I think it's very effective and a very good trailer --

Q: -- because it doesn't tell everything?

HF: Well, I mean, really, what is there to tell? Harrison Ford/ Paul Bettany and I think the audience knows -- in this kind of a story -- the good guys will win and the bad guys will lose.

Q: Did you like the trailer for What Lies Beneath?

HF: I thought it gave away too much. On the other hand, the film was very successful.

Q: If your nearest and dearest were threatened in ways similar to your character in Firewall, how far would you go to protect them?

HF: I have no idea and niether do you. Nobody does...you don't know and I don't know until you come to that [critical] moment of: what're you going to do?

Firewall opens nationwide on February 10th.

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