Career Watch is a regular column by veteran film reporter and Moviefone guest blogger Anne Thompson looking at the career of a major Hollywood star, analyzing the moves they've made thus far and offering career advice on where they could or should head from here. This week: Harrison Ford.
Harrison Ford is an iconic actor who can still draw crowds in an Indiana Jones sequel -- but at age 68, he is looking to reclaim his box office mojo after a run of flops.
Latest Misfire: Although Ford grabbed strong reviews in a supporting role as a crusty one-time news star reduced to co-anchoring a morning show in the careerist comedy 'Morning Glory,' which stars perky actress-on-the-rise Rachel McAdams, the press is attacking him for yet another box-office dud. The rom-com opened to a fourth-place $9.6 million this past weekend. Ford fared worse with audiences and critics alike in two recent sober dramas, 'Extraordinary Measures' ($12.1 million) and 'Crossing Over' ($456,000).
Signature Line: "Traveling through hyper-space ain't like dusting crops, boy!"-- Han Solo
Career Peaks: Ford enjoyed a rare 25-year run as an A-list movie star, from his break-out in George Lucas' 'American Grafitti' in 1973 through iconic roles in the 'Star Wars' and 'Indiana Jones' franchises and the Jack Ryan series that ended with 'Clear and Present Danger' in 1994. He was a dishy romantic lead in 'Witness,' 'Working Girl' and 'Regarding Henry,' but made his fortune as an action hero in tentpoles such as 'The Fugitive' and 'Air Force One.'
Awards Attention: He was nominated for the best actor Oscar only once, for Peter Weir's 'Witness,' in 1985.
Biggest Problem: He's no longer a marquee draw. While he's delightful in 'Morning Glory,' which drew an older crowd, his promo tour on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' and 'David Letterman' didn't cut it. For decades he wouldn't leave the comfort of his home if he didn't get his $20 million asking price, turning down the lead in Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-winning 'Traffic' -- which went to Michael Douglas -- in favor of the Russian-accented captain in 'K-19: The Widowmaker.' His low points include such studio fare as 'Sabrina,' 'Six Days, Seven Nights,' 'Firewall,' 'Hollywood Homicide,' 'The Devil's Own' and 'Random Hearts.'
Biggest Assets: Now that those studio paydays are no longer on the table, nor is he a romantic fantasy figure, Ford is free to play the field and experiment a tad. He brings masculine strength and gravitas to roles as commanders, presidents and a man with a gun. And he does comedy. Owen Gleiberman's 'Morning Glory' review describes Ford as "still a magnetic hunk of grey-granite movie star."
Current Gossip: With four grown children from prior marriages, Ford finally married 10-year girlfriend Calista Flockhart in June. They are raising a son, Liam, whom Flockhart adopted in 2001. Liam is now nine.
Next Step: 'Indiana Jones 5' is in development, and Ford is gung-ho to do it, he told MTV News: "It's on George's plate, and I'm hoping he's working hard at it, because I'd look forward to doing it again if the three of us could get together -- George, [director] Steven Spielberg, myself -- I'd love to do another," he said. Ford hits the range on horseback opposite Daniel Craig in Jon Favreau's upcoming 'Cowboys & Aliens.'
Career Advice: "It's good to see him working more, he's a wonderful actor," says Disney casting chief Marcia Ross, who thinks that the role in 'Morning Glory' was perfect casting for him. "You recognize him, he means something." Finally, Ford should follow his own job description: "My occupation is assistant storyteller. It is not icon."
Anne Thompson -- who has served as Deputy Editor of Variety.com and The Hollywood Reporter, West Coast Editor of Premiere and Senior Writer at Entertainment Weekly -- writes a daily blog on indieWIRE, Thompson on Hollywood. You can check out some of her latest posts here:
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