Not so long ago, in a galaxy not too far away lived the actor Harrison Ford. And he loved space. He would make a name for himself as intergalactic cowboy Han Solo in the film “Star Wars.” And now, more than 35 years later, Ford returns to the outer reaches with “Ender’s Game,” an adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s 1985 sci-fi novel.
Of course, much has changed in the movie-making business since the actor first boarded the Millennium Falcon. He recalled what passed for “special effects” so many years ago.
“Back in the ’80s when I was making ‘Star Wars,’ they would make a spaceship out of model car kits, any little plastic bit with some intricacy to it,” he explained. “They’d carve up a bit that looked interesting and stick it on a balsa wood model, paint the whole thing gray, put it on a stick and move it past the camera. Very crude technology but still effective when you had the music and the story context.”
Fast-forward to 2013, in which much of “Ender’s Game” was filmed using wires to simulate an anti-gravity environment and green screens were de rigueur for backdrops.
“Right now you can create a whole very effective reality on the computer, but the job there really falls to the director and the production designer to organize this vision so that it represents something useful to the telling of the story, not just some creation for the sake of itself but to aid in the telling of the story,” Ford said.
And if you were at all wondering how the 71-year-old star acclimated to these changes, according to co-star Viola Davis, he acquitted himself quite well.
“Harrison Ford didn’t have any problems with it either,” Davis said of Ford’s green-screen skills. “I mean, none. He completely understood it to a T. If he didn’t he really faked it great.”