"My goal was just to work regularly. I didn't ever expect to be rich or famous. I wanted to be a working character actor."
"There is no god. There is only Harrison Ford and his chisled jawline"
—Faye, Questionable Content
Born on July 13, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois, Harrison Ford spent his early acting career in a degree of minor roles while working as a carpenter until he got his biggest break.
Thanks to his friend, casting director Fred Roos, his earliest notable film work was in George Lucas' American Graffiti and The Conversation, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Later he came in to read lines for Lucas' next project, a Space Opera titled Star Wars. Steven Spielberg persuaded Lucas to cast him as Lovable Rogue Han Solo.
The rest, to use an old cliché, is history.
Fairly soon he was cast as Adventure Archaeologist Indiana Jones in the Lucas-produced and Spielberg-directed Raiders of the Lost Ark (after original choice Tom Selleck was unable to get released from his Magnum, P.I. contract.) It became the biggest box office hit of 1981. With Indy, it made him one of the few actors who are recognizable for two incredibly iconic movie characters (alongside Sylvester Stallone for Rocky and Rambo, and Arnold Schwarzenegger for Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator). He made two more Star Wars films and three more Indiana Jones films. In 1982 he starred in Ridley Scott's "future noir", Blade Runner, which acquired a cult status.
Much of his career in the 80s and 90s was as Badass Bookworm and Badass Bureaucrat characters. In 1985 he played a cop hiding among the Pennsylvania Amish in Witness. It earned him his first and so far only Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Witness was directed by Peter Weir, who next made The Mosquito Coast with Ford. Based on the Paul Theroux novel about an American inventor who uproots his family to live in a Central American jungle, it also starred Helen Mirren and River Phoenix as his wife and eldest son. It was followed by Frantic a thriller set in Paris directed by Roman Polanski, a supporting role in Mike Nichols' comedy Working Girl, and the Courtroom Drama Presumed Innocent by Alan J. Pakula.
Ford has become a very bankable actor (his work across 36 films has grossed a total of $3.6 billion; he was statistically the most bankable actor for many years until Tom Hanks and Samuel L. Jackson surpassed his numbers), turning up in several more famous films, including The Fugitive, Air Force One, Apocalypse Now. He took over the Tom Clancy character Jack Ryan from Alec Baldwin (for The Hunt for Red October) in Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games.
While no longer headlining those big movies nearly every year as he once did, he can still be seen frequently in newer films like Extraordinary Measures and Cowboys and Aliens. He will be playing Colonel Hyrum Graff in the upcoming (and long-awaited) adaptation of Ender's Game; this announcement was met with much excitement in the fandom.
Generally he portrays heroic characters. Incidentally, he has portrayed heroic characters in both of George Lucas's popular film series, being the title character of the Indiana Jones series and one of the main heroes in Star Wars.
Once married to Melissa Matheson, screenwriter of ET the Extraterrestrial. Ford is currently married to Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal and Brothers and Sisters). Has a ranch in Wyoming and is a licensed pilot. (And he has twice used his helicopter to rescue hikers in distress.) It has been noted by many individuals that while he is a friendly guy he is actually rather quiet and reserved in real life, contrasting the roguish and charismatic characters he plays.
Get off my