Issues of Actors Belatedly Returning to Iconic Roles: Harrison Ford Faces Indiana Jones Curse

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Despite older action stars becoming a sudden new cottage industry, there seems to be a certain exception when it comes to a few, such as Harrison Ford. When Ford returned to the role of Indiana Jones in 2008 for "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", you found a number of fans who were disappointed in seeing how much he'd aged and with clear use of a stunt double in nearly every action scene. Although the other half of the argument seemed to be that the plot was just too preposterous to worry about Ford being a septuagenarian.

In the case of the above, he may arguably be the only one out of all the current aging action stars to have trouble returning to the action genre. Even if he fits the everyman as Bruce Willis does, the look of Harrison Ford as a younger person in the original "Star Wars" trilogy and the "Indy" movies is burned into granite as iconic cinematic moments. If Stallone and Schwarzenegger look basically the same as they did 25 years ago, some may feel depressed seeing Ford looking 70 in the roles he defined.

That makes sense when so many people saw the characters of Han Solo and Indiana Jones when they were assimilatory kids. Ford set such a persona of the young and acerbic hotshot adventurer that a 70-year-old aura may not even translate back to such a character. With news of Ford already signed to play Han Solo again in "Star Wars: Episode VII", would anybody really recognize him as Han Solo, or would the character have to be re-assimilated as someone completely different?

Ford's line delivery is done with a more acutely gravel voice today than with the tone he had as wittily sardonic Solo. It's also hard-pressed to picture him jumping into the Millennium Falcon again alongside Chewbacca (with gray hairs and deeper howl?) and helping out in a new battle against neo Dark Side minions. Then again, seeing him take the Falcon out for a spin after being in a celestial junkyard would provide a fun full circle.

All told, every one of the iconic "Star Wars" characters Generation X grew up with will have to be interpreted in new ways. The human ones will have to be in scenes with more dialogue rather than pursuing the latest action path of calling out obvious scenes with body doubles. If Ford can still effectively throw out an acerbic one-liner without sounding like Clint Eastwood, Han Solo's spirit will still be there.

That's why past actors who reprised roles years later were mostly dialogue-laden rather than all action. They also had easier stunts as evidenced when Paul Newman returned to the role of pool shark Eddie Felson in "The Color of Money", or even Ian McKellan returning (in prequel form) as Gandalf in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." In most cases, it works best as a cameo with dialogue just to give a lingering sense of officiality as was the case with Leonard Nimoy's aged Spock in J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" reboot.

But sometimes it's worth pondering if the advances in digital technology could brush up the aging faces of older actors returning to an important role. With Harrison Ford being more grounded as an actor, it's a bit haunting imagining his face having a digital sheen of looking 30 years younger. Technology like that could potentially block true acting expressions as much as motion capture sometimes can.

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