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Birthday Special: Harrison Ford, Of Star Wars, Blade Runner And Indiana Jones Series, Turns 80

Whether playing Han Solo in "Star Wars," Rick Deckard in "Blade Runner" or "Indiana Jones," Harrison Ford has made a name for himself as one of Hollywood's most successful actors. Of course he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and too many awards to count, including an Oscar Awards nomination. Ford turned 80 on July 13.

A late starter in the film industry, Ford trained and worked as a carpenter until he was 30. A husband and father of two, he then started supplementing his income with appearances on television. Those minor roles included bit parts in westerns like "Gunsmoke" and "The Virginian."

Action hero with a crooked grin

Things changed when director George Lucas cast him in a side part in his low-budget production, "American Graffiti," in 1973. The small role was enough to impress Lucas, who brought him on board for his next project: At 35, Ford made his debut as space smuggler Han Solo in the original "Star Wars" in 1977.

That wouldn't remain his only adventure role. Lucas cast the friendly actor with the crooked smile in his "Indiana Jones" films, where Ford travels the world as an archaeologist with a whip and a leather hat, rescuing valuable cultural treasures from the Nazis and other bad guys. Three "Indiana Jones" films were released between 1981 and 1989, with several more following between 1992 and 2008.

Already a Hollywood name, Ford caught the attention of star director Ridley Scott, who picked him for his dark science fiction film "Blade Runner" (1982) — a movie that was underestimated at first, but later became a cult hit.

Ford ages with his roles

Now with a considerable resume under his belt, Ford continues to make movies. In April 2022, just a few months before his 80th birthday, the Hollywood star agreed to his first major TV series role. For the streaming service Apple TV, he will star in the comedy series "Shrinking" alongside Jason Segel.Director Steven Spielberg, along with George Lucasas producer, have also come up with something sure to please Ford's fans: Professor Dr. Henry Walton, aka "Indiana" Jones will return to the big screen in 2023, complete with a whip and leather hat.

His co-star Mads Mikkelsen recently attested to Harrison Ford's impressive physical fitness: "Harrison is a monster, a very nice monster," Mikkelsen said in an interview with "Hollywood Reporter" in April. On the first day of shooting, a night shoot, they worked until five in the morning, he said. "And then he got on his mountain bike and biked 50 kilometers (31 miles)."It's yet another time Ford has returned to one of his old roles. In 2015, he returned to "Star Wars" as an older Han Solo. In "Blade Runner 2049," released in 2017, he once again portrayed ex-police officer Rick Deckard alongside Ryan Gosling.

Hollywood star without major scandals

Ford is known for keeping his private life more or less under wraps — although he went through one of Hollywood's most expensive divorces. After 20 years of marriage with his first wife Melissa Mathison, he paid out $72 million in alimony in 2004.

But that's a drop in the pond for Ford, who, according to the 2009 Forbes list, was once Hollywood's best-earning actor with a yearly income of around $57 million.

Now Ford is married to actress Calista Flockhart, who made a name for herself as "Ally McBeal." He has five children and two grandchildren and lives on a ranch in Wyoming.

Passion for planes

Ford's hobby is flying. He collects old airplanes and flies them regularly. But his airborne passion has not been without incident.

In 2015, Ford crashed on a golf course near Los Angeles. He survived, but was severely injured. In February 2017, he landed on a taxiway instead of a runway and came close to a jet airliner. Again in 2020 he had a close call at the Los Angeles Hawthorne Airport when he crossed a runway where another aircraft was landing. He almost lost his pilot's license.

For years, Ford has been committed to environmental protection, including the struggle against the pollution of the Hudson River. He has advocated for rainforest protection in Indonesia and is on the board of Conservation International, an NGO committed to preserving biodiversity. He also traveled to the World Climate Conference in Madrid in 2019, where he called for action against the climate crisis.

Ford was honored for his environmental commitment by having two living creatures named after him: a Californian spider, the Calponia harrisonfordi, and a Central American ant, the Pheidole harrisonfordi.

This profile was updated for Harrison Ford's 80th birthday.

Source: DW

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