For Ford, it is a signature performance of a new variety — as a character actor who plays a real person. In Rickey, he found a man as smart and as interesting — if not as adventurous — as Indiana Jones. Rickey, who died at age 83 in 1965, was a visionary responsible for inventing baseball training devices like sliding pits and batting tees. He also devised a system where major league clubs owned minor league teams and all their player contracts, which eventually became baseball’s farm system.
NOW YOU KNOW: Ford was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of undercover cop John Book in 1985's Witness.
Rickey didn’t drink, didn’t curse and promised his deeply religious mother he would never work on Sundays — and he never did. He also taught himself Latin and graduated from the University of Michigan School of Law. He was funny, too, once uttering: “I was in the top 10 percent of my law-school class. I’m a Doctor of Jurisprudence. I am an honorary Doctor of Law. Tell me why I spent four mortal hours today conversing with a person named Dizzy Dean?”
Ford is amused by Rickey’s sense of humor and impressed by his intellect. “I think he would have been a helluva lawyer, or a judge, or a preacher,” Ford says.
Or perhaps he could have been a college professor of archaeology like Indiana Jones, who draws praise similar to Rickey from Ford. “What was interesting about Indiana Jones was his academic background, his scholarship,” Ford says. “And then, when he finds himself in trouble, his wit.”
Two scholars, both witty.
While Ford will play Rickey only once, he could play Indiana Jones for a fifth time in the near future. At the time of this interview, Ford said there was preliminary work being done on a script but that no final decision had been made to make a movie. Even larger news for Ford fans, however, is that he could revive the role of Han Solo in a new Star Wars film. Ford says there’s a first draft of a script with his character written into it, but negotiations were not yet complete.
“I haven’t got much to say because we’re in the midst of negotiations and discussions about it and it’s not a fait accompli at this point,” says Ford, whose last appearance as Solo was in 1983’s Return of the Jedi. “I’d very much like to have it happen, but we’ll see.”
Ford said there are “five or six” other roles he is considering, and he has no plans to slow down. He turned 70 last July but is hardly bothered by age.
“I love to work,” he says. “I need to work. I love new challenges. One of the things I always thought about when I was imagining what it was like to make a living as an actor was you didn’t have to stop. If you were willing to play old guys, you could keep working until you ceased being useful, which I thought was pretty cool.”
On this day in his office, Ford has a casual but cool look. Dressed in jeans and appearing very fit, he fashionably sports a small jeweled stud in his left earlobe.
“People look at me and say, ‘You’ve got an earring. Where did you get that?’ ” he says. “I’ve had an earring for 15 years. People don’t pay attention.”
The ticket-buying public has paid close attention to Harrison Ford in movies for more than 30 years. In 42, thanks to a director swayed by Ford’s acting, his fans will see him as they never have before.
American Way Associate Editor Jan Hubbard has never thought about wearing a stud in his ear, but he figures if it’s good enough for Harrison Ford, it’s worth considering.