“She Barfed In My Cowboy Hat,” and other stories.
Over the years, Harrison Ford has earned a reputation for being sort of grumpy in interviews. It’s tempting to read that as a pejorative, but for the most part, I mean it as a compliment. If you’ve ever been to a junket or seen what a movie press tour entails, it often consists of some of the most overcaffeinated dorks in the world (take it from me, I’ve been one of those dorks) asking you the same stupid questions all day, and if you didn’t eventually start to respond glibly to that, people would naturally wonder if you’d been lobotomized.
If you ever watch a supercut of an actor giving the same “candid” answer to 20 different interviewers you’ll be able to actually see your soul leaving your body. I love an actor who’s cranky in interviews. A cranky actor makes me feel seen. I eat up every story about Tommy Lee Jones telling Jim Carrey “I cannot sanction your buffoonery” and if you tell me it’s not true I will put my fingers in my ears and go “La la la.”
In that way, Harrison Ford is one of “my guys.” At this point, he’s such a consistent delight for crank enthusiasts that every new interview feels a little like “put your coin in the slot to hear him growl!” Ford has got a new, nicely long talk in the Hollywood Reporter this week and, naturally, I analyzed it closely for the best grump nuggets.
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Before I get to that, it’s also worth noting that, as Mike Ryan has pointed out, Harrison Ford interviews aren’t fun solely because he’s grouchy, they’re fun because he’s also really funny. The curmudgeonliness is part shtick at this point, and he uses it to land jokes, which he does with the precision of a surgeon. When I read his gruff-sounding answers in print, I’m imagining him saying them with a little smirk on his face, which he usually seems to have.
Your Shrinking character Paul is, I would imagine, closer to how you are in real life than your other roles. He’s low-key, smart, affable but also sometimes grumpy. Would that be fair?
I don’t have Parkinson’s [like Paul] or a deep knowledge of therapy, and I’m not in business with a couple of f*cking maniacs. But I recognize that maybe he’s like me. Or maybe he’s not like me — and that’s acting.
“Of course my character not like me, do I look like I have Parkinson’s?”
So whether he is or isn’t is not something you’d want me to know.
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You’ve hit on the first rule of Acting Club: Don’t talk about acting.
Actors are maybe rivaled only by comedians in their propensity to wax on about “the craft,” which in both cases seems only to cheapen the thing. What a great answer.
Your fans online have done some armchair diagnosis, looking at things you’ve said about being shy in social situations and some of your talk show appearances. Some assume you’ve wrestled with social anxiety disorder. Are they onto something?
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[…] No. I don’t have a social anxiety disorder. I have an abhorrence of boring situations.
Holy shit, that’s not a quip, it’s a mantra. I want that tattooed in script on my forearm. Ford just opened his mouth and the collective id of every dad who’s ever been forced to mingle with the other be-shorted buffoons at a Chuck E. Cheese gushed out with the force of a Pacific monsoon.
Has Taylor given you a sense of how season two is going be different than season one?
I haven’t got a fucking clue.
“You think I care enough about TV to be out here speculating about future TV? I haven’t thought about it. Nerds do that.”
You’ve also rescued several people with your helicopter. How do stranded hikers react when they’re rescued by Harrison Ford?
Well, one time we picked up this woman who was hypothermic on the mountain. She barfed in my cowboy hat but didn’t know who I was until the next day. I stopped doing it because we would be lucky enough to find somebody and then they’d be on Good Morning America talking about “a hero pilot.” It’s nothing fucking like that. It’s a team effort. It’s lame to think about it that way.
“She barfed in my cowboy hat” is such a great line. Beautiful imagery. Also telling that it wasn’t the getting his cowboy hat barfed in that put him off mountain rescue, it was that people couldn’t keep their stupid mouths shut about it.
I know you don’t pick favorites, but is there a role you feel was underappreciated at the time that you’re proud of?
I’m proud of 42. I’m proud of K-19: The Widowmaker, where I played a Russian submarine captain.
Asking him about favorite roles and him immediately coming up with the submarine one is another beautifully dad thing to say.
I know you’re not a nostalgic guy, but how did it feel putting on the hat and the jacket and whip for what is probably the last time?
(As if first learning of the role) I’m playing this archaeologist … who wears a brown fedora … and a leather jacket regardless of the weather … and carries a whip? OK, I’ll do it! Look, it was bizarre to start with, and it’s bizarre again.
God, what I would give to get Harrison Ford about four beers deep and wind him up to make fun of Speilberg and Lucas. Then again, I say that, but the reality is, I enjoy reading and watching Harrison Ford interviews almost certainly far more than I would enjoy doing them. At one point, the interviewer asks Ford a question about Ford’s “youthful” side, and Ford responds, “do you fish?”
I feel like a kid who’s about to disappoint his dad just reading that, and my dad doesn’t even fish. A national treasure, this man.