The Projector

Call In Winston Wolfe: Let’s Save Harrison Ford’s Career

Will Leitch
The Projector

Taking away the debacle that was "Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull," Harrison Ford hasn't made a movie that grossed more than $50 million domestically in more than a decade. More the point: He hasn't made a legitimately good movie since, oh, "The Fugitive?" (If you are an "Air Force One" defender, you can have that one, though we recommend watching that movie again; it's pretty terrible.) The Los Angeles Times asked this week "What Happened To Harrison Ford?" The once-beloved actor has become a bit of a joke, a growling crank who's a caricature of the movie star we once knew as "Harrison Ford." His career is in free fall. This looks like a job for The Wolf.

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He's Winston Wolfe. He solves problems. He's here to help.

Here's how to fix your career, Mr. Ford.

1. For God's sake, lighten up. We're not talking about making funnier movies; you haven't been light on your feet in a film since, what, "Working Girl?" We mean that you need to just let it go a little bit. Your cantakerous attitude is turning you into a joke, and it's affecting how we respond to you on screen. You're not brooding Sean Penn: You're a crowd-pleasing movie star, and we want to see you enjoying yourself. You don't seem to be enjoying yourself much. It can't be that hard to be a screen legend, can it? Come on! Smile! Life's really fun! Your life totally rules! You're Harrison Ford!

2. Be goofy! There are about a million things in this world that are only funny if they are done by Harrison Ford. Here's one:

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We know you showed up in that crazy snowboarding short "Water to Wine" as a favor to your son, but hey: Even though that scene makes no sense and the short is surely horrible, it still made us laugh! We're not saying you start doing "Scary Movie" sequels or anything. Think Apatow: You'd make a rather convincing and hilarious aging stoner, wouldn't you? We'd believe you as Paul Rudd's father far more than we'll ever believe Jack Nicholson as Paul Rudd's father, that's for sure. (We're still a little surprised Nicholson and Rudd occupy the same plane of existence, actually.) If Michael Caine can do it -- an old stoner in a serious drama, no less -- then you can pull it off. No dreads, though.

3. Start working with better directors. Here are the directors for your last five films in which you do not play Indiana Jones: Roger Michell, Tom Vaughan, Wayne Kramer, Richard Loncraine, Ron Shelton (who was slumming). Who the hell are those people? You worked with Kathryn Bigelow right before she took off with "The Hurt Locker." Give her a call. Don't forget your younger directors, either: That role that Bruce Willis has in Rian Johnson's upcoming movie? That should be yours. Matt Reeves, J.J. Abrams ... there's a whole generation of filmmakers who grew up adoring you who would love to give you some plum roles. But they can't find you in Wyoming. Your next movie, Jon Favreau's "Cowboys and Aliens," is on the right track. Also note that in that movie, you're not the star.

4. Start looking for your Michael Douglas in "Traffic" roles. You gave this a try in "Crossing Over," and it didn't work: That movie was cursed from the get-go, but you still get points for trying. Keep this up. There's something still soulful about you, a little dark (our favorite non-blockbuster roles of yours have always been when you're not some sort of shining knight trying to save your wife/family/child/wife), and if in the right role, you wouldn't even have to try that hard to hit it out of the park. We think Christopher Nolan is the type of director who could find your right note in a one-off part; you could walk away with a movie with five minutes of screen time. But you have to be up for it. And once again, note: You're not the star. We hate to tell you this -- because we're afraid you'll punch us -- but you're not a movie star anymore. Back when you were a movie star, we always liked the quiet films you mixed in, when you did some actual acting. ("Witness," "Frantic," "The Mosquito Coast.") You can still do it. We know you can. You're Harrison freaking Ford.

5. Lose the earring. Seriously, man. Come on.

There you go, sir. That should do it.

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