Ford says he’s done revisiting iconic roles

Actor picks up Deckard mantle again in ‘Blade Runner 2049’

By

Published:

 

LOS ANGELES — This is it for Harrison Ford.

Now that the 75-year-old Ford has had the chance to reprise his role of Rick Deckard from the 1982 Ridley Scott film “Blade Runner” in Denis Villeneuve’s sequel, “Blade Runner 2049,” he’s done re-visiting past roles. This opportunity comes after Ford got to slip back into playing the lovable rogue Hans Solo with the 2015 “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakes” and take on the role of adventurous Indiana Jones in the 2008 “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

Ford originated the role of Deckard, a law enforcement officer known as a Blade Runner, in the near-future tale based on the Philip K. Dick story “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” The job of Blade Runners is to track down replicants, human-like androids. That mission changes when Deckard gets emotionally involved with his latest assignment.

Any details of how Deckard’s life has changed in “Blade Runner 2049” would spoil the film’s numerous twists and turns. He does spend a lot of time working with Ryan Gosling, who is a Blade Runner in the new production.

It’s safer for Ford to talk about what it was like to work on the first film.

“It was raining,” Ford says in a very deadpan manner to a question about his memories of shooting the first film. “I was tired. I was happy with the eventual movie. A lot has happened since then.

“It was a remarkable experience working with Ridley and the rest of the people involved. But it was a long time ago in a world far, far away.”

Even Gosling sidesteps talking directly about “Blade Runner 2049,” joking he was lured to this project because “it seemed like Harrison had so much fun on the original it seemed like a great time.” As for meeting Ford on the set the first day, Gosling again avoids a serious answer and jokes that Ford arrives in a very “cinematic way.”

Gosling glances at Ford as he’s making Ford’s arrival sound like the pope was coming for a visit and says: “He gave me a look just like that. It was like I was an 8-year-old kid who had just broke his window. And then immediately put us at ease because he’s the best collaborator you could ask for and brings with him the experience and the intent of making something great.”

Ford’s mention of the “eventual movie” is a reference to how “Blade Runner” went through a variety of edits. In one version, Ford provides a narration through the movie while in another that narration is gone. There are also different endings.

Scott has been very vocal about the various versions of his film. That’s why Villeneuve knew that if there was any chance of his making a sequel to Scott’s film, he would need the blessing of the director. Before Villeneuve can talk about how he convinced Scott to be happy with a new film being made, Ford says it’s easy to know what Scott is thinking.

“You usually know when Ridley is not happy,” Ford says.

Villeneuve got the blessing he needed particularly because the design of “Blade Runner 2049” is an extension of the original film, from the story to the sound to the dark future world where the story unfolds. Although massive in scale, Villeneuve used as many practical sets as possible. Ford found being able to walk into the real spaces a plus in helping him play the role.

“A picture IS worth a thousand words,” Ford says. “When you get on a set where there has been a lot of thought put into the visual aspects of that scene you feel a support and you know what you don’t have to do.

“You have to be there for the other characters and to service the story but so much is done in a visual way it certainly encourages your confidence.”

The task of creating the latest version of Decker by Ford started with the script by co-writer Hampton Fancher, who wrote the script for the original “Blade Runner.”

Fancher said he has thought occasionally about what Decker’s future would be since the original movie was released. Most of the revisiting would be sparked by a call from Scott asking what he thought about reviving the character.

“I did have some ideas and flew out to L.A. a couple of times to have meetings,” Fancher says. “We thought about going ahead but the rights were very confusing so nothing ever happened. I did write a story six years ago that involved the playbook but that was about it.”

Those rights issues finally got untangled and Ford got his chance to play Deckard again. But, Ford said he would have only done the sequel if the writing was right. And he’s not talking only about giving an audience an update on Deckard.

“The whole had to be something I wanted to be involved in as well,” Ford says. “I saw that potential and I also was anxious to work with the people involved. For me, it was a great opportunity.”