Pure Movies talks to cinema megastar Harrison Ford about his role in upcoming comedy Morning Glory, tackling climate change and his love of barges. Warning: this interview may contain extremely dry humour.
As a comedy actor you give a brilliantly dry performance. But we so rarely see you in comic roles. Was that by choice, or was it that people didn’t send you enough quality comedy scripts?
“Well, I think that there’s not a lot of wit in comedy anymore. In America these days there’s a lot of adolescent humour and I’m a little too old for that. So I was grateful to have this script, I thought it was very well-written and I felt that the character [the gruffly arrogant hard-hitting news presenter Mike Pomeroy] was an interesting one for me to play.”
What’s been your experience with watching – or not watching – morning television?
“My experience comes from having appeared on morning television over the years to promote films, and so I have been part of all kinds of morning shows. I certainly do admire those people that do it well, and there are people out there that do.
“My character is a pretentious, stuffy, self-satisfied person who really only has respect for what he’s done, his particular form of journalism – and there was something I could understand in what Mike’s point of view was about morning television. But as I say, I respect people who do their job well, no matter what that job is.”
Mike is an old-school journalist, and one whose always done the job properly…
“He thinks it’s a sacred profession, and in a sense it used to be. The most trusted man in America was Walter Kronkite, who kept his opinions out of it nearly to the end of his career, when he came out against the Vietnam war.
“And I still think that the network news anchors do a very good job – they have the resources, they have the budget in order to do it – but there’s another brand of news that confirms whatever political prejudices you have, and it’s all bombast and vitriol. And I think that’s contributed to the divisiveness and lack of civility in American culture. I do regret it.”
Environmental issues are very close to your heart. How do you personally tackle these?
“I like to be involved in communicating about the environment. After twenty five years I’ve started to be involved in the organization Conservation International. It was at their behest that I went to [the UN biodiversity convention in Japan] Nagoya to urge the adoption of their agenda, which is to urge 192 nations that were assembled there to sign the UN convention on biodiversity – there are only three nations on the planet which are not signatories. One of them is the Holy See – the Vatican; the other is Andorra; and guess what the third one is? The United States of America. So I went not only to urge protection of the terrestrial surface of the earth and the ocean, but to urge the American government to step up to the plate and use that opportunity to become a signatory to the UN convention on biodiversity.”
“I feel that there were some significant agreements at Nagoya that were followed up by some positive approaches at Cancun, which came after that. It’s an ongoing battle and I’m happy to be able to be part of it. It’s critical that we make significant attempts to address the issue so that our children can have something left of the world to live in. It’s that simple.”
On the subject of presenters, how do you think Piers Morgan is going to fare with filling the shoes of legendary presenter Larry King?
“He’s promoting his show by professing to be looking from the truth from his subjects, so I shall have nothing to do with it. He’s interested in truth, I’m interested in selling product. You want the truth? Go someplace else. It’s not my business.”
Mike Pomeroy is billed as the third worst person in the world. So how did you get into him, how did you make it relatable to you?
“I found no difficulty in slipping into the skin of the third worst person in the world. It was a very well-written script, the character is quite clear, the path of the character from being the third worst person in the world to being perhaps the fourth worst person through the relationship with the character Rachel plays is clear dramatic observation, and it was great fun to play.”
Could you tell us a bit about your upcoming film, Cowboys and Aliens?
“It’ll be coming out in July this year. It seems to be the kind of movie people go to see these days…more than once. I’m delighted to be involved in one of those. I think everyone involved did a bang-up job. It was wonderful working with Daniel Craig – quite a funny, smart guy – and the director John Faverau, who has done the last two Iron Man films. So it’s a very different kind of movie. I’m very happy to do it – I love westerns because you get to be outside all day on the back of a horse. And I play a grumpy old man in that as well.”
There’s a scene when you’re with all these American news broadcast legends. What were you talking about off-camera?
[Absolutely deadpan] “Chicks.”
“What we were doing was telling terrible bad jokes. It was midday, in a bar, with no drinks, waiting for them to get the light set up. I’d never met any of them before; they were all very charming. But their jokes were terrible. But that’s what we did, we sat around telling jokes. We didn’t talk about the news business, really, I think, at all.”
Alison Doody, who starred alongside you in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, recently praised you as probably one of the most important people in her career. How did you feel about acting with her?
[Deadpanning again] “What was the name?”
“No, of course I remember her. She was a pleasure. She was new at the game at that point but she was great. Quite beautiful, and she played my love interest – lucky me! I never got to know her quite as well as she got to know me, apparently! But I thought she was really sweet.”
You obviously have a great sense of humour; what makes you laugh? What do you watch, that you’d call funny?
“I laugh a lot…largely at inappropriate junctures. I enjoy Robin Williams, Steve Martin…I guess Steve Martin’s probably classic. Robin’s in a world of his own. I like Billy Connelly…but then I like Benny Hill. Not really!”
I remember seeing a photo of you on a canal boat in the middle of Wales. Is that the kind of thing you do regularly, because it’s easy to keep a low profile?
“On a canal boat in Wales?! Yeah!”
“It’s good fun. I love to go narrow boating in the South of France and in England; there’s nothing quite like it, to just slow your life down. It’s just the three of us, and it’s really fun. A real pleasure.”