Harrison Ford doesn’t look nearly as grizzled as you think he would, either in “Blade Runner 2049,” in which he jumps back into his iconic role of Rick Deckard, the former blade runner — a cop who “retires” renegade replicants — or in person, relaxing on a couch in a Los Angeles hotel. Ford, 75, chatted about his memories of the original film and his thoughts on the new one, in which the story takes place 30 years after the first.
Q: You made “Blade Runner” 35 years ago. You read the script, you agreed to play the part, and you acted in it. Do you recall if, when you finally saw the completed film, it was different than you had imagined it?
A: I had actually seen a lot of it while we were making it, because I was watching the dailies. Of course, when a movie is woven together, it’s always something more than the individual strands that you may have been part of. I also saw variations of it in test screenings, and I remember liking the simplified version best, the one without the narration, without the so-called happy ending. The film didn’t look like or feel like anything that was regularly appearing in theaters everywhere. I think it was ahead of its time. It was an art film that was accidentally put into general release.
Q: Have you been surprised by the status it’s achieved since then?
A: Well, it certainly did gain a following over time. And I’ve heard testimony over and over again from filmmakers and visual artists about the influence and the opportunity it appeared to present to them, and their affinity for it.
Q: When did you first hear talk that there was going to be a sequel?
A: About four years before we started shooting, I got a call from Ridley (Scott, the original’s director, and executive producer of the sequel) saying would you have any interest in revisiting the character. I said, “Well, umm, I don’t know, give me some context, here.” He said something like, “I’ll settle for that, for now.” He came back a little later with a novella that he and (“2049” screenwriter) Hampton Francher had written, and that would later become the script. I read it, then said, “OK, this is feeling comfortable.” At that point the idea was that Ridley was going to direct it. But his schedule just overwhelmed him, and he couldn’t. But I appreciated the opportunities that the script presented to me as an actor, and I wanted to be part of this story with this character.
Q: So, you ended up having Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival,” “Sicario”) direct it. Because you were bringing the character of Deckard back, were you able to offer a good amount of input on how you wanted to play him?
A: Filmmaking is a collaborative enterprise. As an actor, you’re responsible for carrying a certain amount of weight. You have to know where the part feels comfortable or whether it needs to be a little tighter or looser, and you discuss that (with your director). Sometimes you’re in agreement about it, sometimes modifications might be offered. But what really counts is the project. Denis knows how to hold onto his vision while also being collaborative and being open.
Q: One last unrelated question. Is it true that because of your conservationist activities, you’ve had a spider named after you?
A: A spider and an ant! The spider is Calponia harrisonfordi, and the ant is Pheidole harrisonfordi.
— Ed Symkus writes about movies for More Content Now. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.