We always knew that Harrison Ford would return to space, right? With an all but confirmed appearance in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII and a starring role in this week’s Ender’s Game, it looks like the iconic movie star is hoping to get back to his sci-fi roots.
In Ender’s Game, which is based on Orson Scott Card’s much celebrated novel of the same name, Ford plays Colonel Graff. Graff is the commander of the Battle School who sees in the young Ender Wiggin (played by Asa Butterfield) a wealth of intelligence and strategic abilities, and is soon convinced that Ender can become Earth’s ultimate military leader.
Despite hating press junkets, Ford showed up to the recent one in LA for Ender’s Game and was happy to speak with journalists about the film. We were lucky enough to be in attendance as the actor talked about why the source material appealed to him, if he ever thought he would return to a space-set movie, what it was like working in zero gravity and much more!
Check it out below!
Can you talk about how this movie appealed to you, and had you read the book in the past?
Harrison Ford: I actually read the script before I read the book. I thought it was an interesting subject that I hadn’t seen in film. I saw an interesting character that was responsible for supporting some questions about responsibility in the military and about relationships between young people and old people. There were a lot of things that intrigued me. When I met with the filmmakers, I had a sense that they were very ambitious and focused on making a film that I thought would be useful for the young audience. So it was altogether attractive for me.
The movie is very intellectual. Are there any themes or questions that you feel might come up or should be discussed because of this movie?
Harrison Ford: Well I think a lot of questions will be raised, and I think it’s a really good family movie. I think young people are likely to drag their parents to this movie to require answers from them about what’s going on here, and the other way around. Parents may wish to bring their young people to this movie as well. The themes are responsibilities, individual responsibilities, the leadership capacities and what the military does to create leadership capacity. But this is a strange situation that we’re talking about, a world government meeting the threat of an alien invasion, so there are not the usual issues of militarism and military adventure. This is not one country with a national interest trying to control another country. This is not a kind of national patriotism. This military is in aid of protecting life on Earth, so these themes, while they seem familiar, are a little bit differentiated by the world in the context they come up in.
Apparently Warner Brothers is now screening 42 for Oscar consideration. How important is that for you? Is that something you feel you’ve missed in your career with everything else?
Harrison Ford: I think the campaign is largely in aid of drawing a greater audience to the film, and I think that would be a good thing. 42 is a wonderful movie and I’m very proud of it.
Did you ever think you would go back into outer space?
Harrison Ford: It doesn’t matter to me whether I go back to outer space or not. The job’s the same and I don’t have any sort of genre preferences. I’m looking for a good story and a good character, whether earthbound or not.
The director, Gavin Hood, said that Asa Butterfield was really the only actor who, when paired up with you, was perfect for the role of Ender.
Harrison Ford: I’ve heard him say that. I think what he’s saying is that Asa has a kind of strength and capacity, and Asa was cast before I was. Gavin was glad that he felt that Asa had this strength to stand up against me, but I think that’s Gavin’s attempt to be flattering to me more than anything else.
What do you think of Asa?
Harrison Ford: Asa is an amazing young person. He’s a very accomplished actor, he’s got a wonderful focus and capacity to focus and concentrate, and he has a wonderful work ethic. That combined with talent I think bodes well for his future.
Since you last shot Star Wars and were shooting space sequences, have there been any significant changes that impact you as a performer in shooting space sequences?
Harrison Ford: Well obviously the techniques to create the visual elements have changed enormously. When we were making Star Wars, they were putting together spaceships out of plastic model kits of cars and boats and trains and gluing them all together and then putting them on a stick and flying them past the camera, and it worked. It was fine. Add a little music, and you believe that big spaceship coming over your head.
The capacity to create effects with computers has made the job easier, but it has also introduced the complexity that you can, with a few more keystrokes, generate such a busy canvas that the eye doesn’t know where to go. You lose human scale on an event. You’re just wowed by the kinetics and the visualization, but you do often in those cases, I feel, lose touch with the human characters and what it is that they would feel and how they might feel. I think that’s still the most important part, so I think you have to be really careful with effects so that they don’t overpower the story.
What was more fun for you, piloting the Millennium Falcon or commanding a battle cruiser?
Harrison Ford: Well I wasn’t in command of anything. In Ender’s Game I don’t command anything. I’m a trainer and I’m responsible for a school, and the young character Ender is orchestrating a battle that’s being fought remotely. But for me, the fun of movies is always the collaboration and the work itself on the set. I don’t know what’s more fun. Sorry.