The leaves are falling, and the turkey is practically in the oven. Yes, according to the calendar, it’s time to take stock and give thanks. So that’s precisely what we’re doing by talking to the actors and filmmakers that made 2008 a memorable year at the movies — a year filled with self-loathing kick-ass superheroes, Manolo-wearing women and the return of a very familiar man in a hat.
Sure, we all cringed a little when Shia swung through the trees like a monkey, and Ray Winstone is clearly no John Rhys-Davies, but after 19 long years away, didn’t everything just seem a little better when Indiana Jones graced the big screen again? Audiences and critics may have bickered over the worth of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” but we came out in droves to watch Harrison Ford whip his young competitors at the box office one more time.
MTV: You must have gotten a kick out of seeing “Indiana Jones” at the heart of our popular culture again after all these years.
Harrison Ford: I didn’t get as much of a kick as it just plum wore my ass out. I was on cereal boxes and soap powder! By the time it was all over, I was ready for it to be over.
MTV: You’re no stranger to pandemonium surrounding your films, but the world premiere in Cannes was pretty extreme. Did it feel different from the last time you’d premiered an “Indiana Jones” film?
Ford: I don’t know if it was different or I was different. There was a real sense of anticipation. We all went into the French premiere knowing that our hosts were French and that they could have gone French on us. [Laughs.] They’re not shy. We were all just curious to how it would turn out.
MTV: How confident were you heading into the release?
Ford: I had confidence in it. Kids come up to me that are 7 or 8 years old and they want to talk about “Indiana Jones.” They were not alive when the movies were released. I had confidence that this was deeply seeded in the culture. I thought we had a pretty good shot.
MTV: But then you actually had to deliver a product that people would enjoy.
Ford: I felt mostly confident about that.
MTV: A few months later, can you be objective about the film now?
Ford: I have two heads. I can go inside or outside the film. I think that’s important for me to see it in an external way.
MTV: Does that external head think this one stands up to the other three films?
Ford: That external head has no mouth. That external head is smart enough to keep his goddamn mouth shut. [Laughs.]
MTV: There was a lot of debate online and elsewhere about certain scenes and characters. How aware were you of the debate?
Ford: I don’t spend much time online.
MTV: There were a number of potential plotlines and scripts considered for this film over the years. Was this your favorite?
Ford: This was the final incarnation. I came to agree to it.
MTV: Did you have any significant moment of trepidation before or during the shoot?
Ford: Never. I knew what the experience was going to be like. I enjoy playing that character. It’s fun. There’s a great mix of stuff for me to do to keep my attention-deficit-plagued mind focused. It’s just a good time for me.
MTV: Did you take any offense to how much was made out of you doing all this action at the ripe old age of 66?
Ford: They were talking about it when I was 45, so it didn’t make any difference to me. I don’t think I would have taken the part if I didn’t feel physically fit for it. I wouldn’t want to rob the audience of that part of the pleasure of the films.
MTV: Steven Spielberg has said that another “Indiana Jones” adventure would only happen if the audience essentially asked for more. A worldwide box-office gross of nearly $800 million would seem to say there’s still an appetite. Is a fifth “Indiana Jones” film inevitable?
Ford: I don’t know. If we come up with a good idea …
MTV: Is the ball in George Lucas’ court at this point?
Ford: It is. That’s the process. With some general input, he goes off and searches for the MacGuffin [Ed. note: That’s the plot device that propels the story, i.e. the Ark] and then stumbles into a story. And at some point, we have a chance to take a look at it and give some input.
MTV: And he hasn’t found the MacGuffin yet?
Ford: No, we’re still in the primary stages.
MTV: The end of the last film leaves your character in a very intriguing position. He has a wife and a kid. Can he still be that man of adventure with those commitments?
Ford: And he’s seen something. Remember those are the only witnesses to what he’s seen. That’s kind of interesting.
MTV: James Bond is a franchise that’s figured out how to ably switch between actors. If, in 50 years, they find another man to play Indiana Jones, would that sit all right with you?
Ford: The very simple addition of numbers would make it clear that in 50 years I will not give a sh– at all. I will so not care.
MTV: Well what if you knew today that someone else would wear the hat one day?
Ford: Fifty years from now, they can do anything they want.
MTV: You were recently voted the Best Movie President on AOL Moviefone. Isn’t it your responsibility to pass on what you know to President-elect Obama?
Ford: Laughs. I don’t know much. But apparently [that poll shows] neither does the public. [Laughs.]
Check out everything we’ve got on “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
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