He’s a spider, a lifesaver, and had his ear pierced at Claire’s Accessories
1. Alec Guinness could never remember his name
In Piers Paul Read’s biography of Ford’s Star Wars co-star, amongst general grouching about the film’s “rubbish dialogue”, it was revealed that Guinness had great difficulty remembering the then-unknown actor’s name. As he wrote to a friend: “I must off to studio and work with a dwarf (very sweet – and he has to wash in a bidet) and your fellow countrymen Mark Hamill and Tennyson (that can’t be right) Ford. Ellison (? – No!) – well, a rangy, languid young man who is probably intelligent and amusing. But Oh, God, God, they make me feel ninety – and treat me as if I was 106. Oh, Harrison Ford – ever heard of him?”
2. He had his ear pierced at Claire’s Accessories
Ford decided to pierce his ear at the age of 55, after lunching with his friend Jimmy Buffett and becoming jealous of the stud in his ear. He and his then-wife, ET screenwriter Melissa Mathison, promptly walked into a Los Angeles branch of Claire’s Accessories and had his ear pierced by a sales assistant named Tavora. According to Mathison, Ford “didn’t flinch, and when it was done, he said, ‘That didn’t hurt.'” He then left a note reading: “To Tavora. You made a hole in me. Harrison Ford.”
3. He was paid $10,000 to make Star Wars
This was actually a hefty raise from Harrison’s first film with George Lucas, 1973’s American Graffiti – he was paid $500 a week to play drag racer Bob Falfa. For The Empire Strikes Back his salary was $100,000, going up to $500,000 for Return of the Jedi. In 22008, he was paid £43.3 million to star in Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.
4. He loves narrow-boats
In 2006, Ford caused a stir in the North Wales canal community when he pulled up to Chirk Marina in a narrow-boat, accompanied by his then-wife Calista Flockhart and their son. Making a stop on their way to Shropshire via the Union Canal, the family visited the Llangollen International Eisteddfod and – according to the BBC – Ford was later spotted buying “sugar and black bin bags” at the local Co-op.
5. He has creatures named after him
Ford is an active conservationist, and in 1993 was honoured by an arachnologist who named named a new species of spider Calponia harrisonfordi. Then, in 2002, his friend entomologist Dr EO Wilson named a new ant species Pheidole harrisonfordi. Ford admits that he still hasn’t met his namesakes in real life: “I’ve seen pictures, as they say, but I have not run across one I recognized crawling on the ground.”
6. He’s a life-saver
In 2000, Ford took to the skies in his own helicopter to help Sarah George, a hiker who had become stranded in the mountains of Idaho. The actor owned a ranch not far away, and offered to join the search and rescue operation in order to save the authorities money; he landed his helicopter in a meadow and picked up the stricken woman himself. Understandably, George didn’t recognise her rescuer at first: “He was wearing a T-shirt and a cowboy hat,” she said. “He didn’t look like I’d ever seen him before.” She then vomited into his hat. Better behaved was lost Boy Scout Cody Clawson, who Ford rescued a year later in the same helicopter.
7. He has a pretty impressive plane collection
Given his recent accident, Ford might be considering taking a short break from flying, but it’s unlikely he’ll give up altogether: in 2010, he famously claimed: “I’m so passionate about flying, I often fly up the coast for a cheeseburger.” Back at his California home, the star has his own mini air force of 11 planes, including a vintage Waco Taperwing open-top biplane from 1929.
8. He mastered the art of the silly selfie, years before Cara Delevingne
Sean Young recently revealed a series of polaroid snaps, taken during the filming of Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner: here’s one of Young posing alongside Ford. While the co-stars are rumoured to have disliked each other, they look pretty relaxed here. Sort of.
9. He was a stagehand for The Doors
In the Seventies, Ford struggled to make enough money as an actor, and instead became a carpenter (why not?) to support his family. This line of work led to him working as a stagehand and cameraman for the rock band The Doors. In the clip below, taken from a 1989 television interview, Ford recalls his “cool, hip” time with the band.
10. He’s acted alongside JJ Abrams
Director JJ Abrams is known for bringing Star Trek into the 21st century, and for being the man behind this year’s biggest blockbuster, the forthcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens (in which Ford will reprise his role as Han Solo). But, back in 1991, Abrams was working as a screenwriter, and penned the script for the film Regarding Henry, a drama about a high-flying lawyer who sustains a brain injury. Abrams also acted in Regarding Henry, playing a delivery boy who briefly appears in a scene with the film’s star … Harrison Ford.
11. He starred in this 2004 film, as a favour to his son
It’s always nice to see fathers getting involved in their sons’ projects – but it helps if Dad is a super-famous movie star. In 2004, Ford agreed to appear in the straight-to-video, micro-budget feature Water to Wine, a “half documentary, half comedy” about snowboarders, as a favour to his son, Malcolm (who features in the film). Ford played “Jethro the bus driver”: you can watch a clip of the film (featuring Malcom and Ford) below.
12. He doesn’t care who shot first
In a 2013 Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session, a fan decided to bring up one of the most famous Star Wars controversies of all time, asking Ford whether Han or Greedo shot first. (In the original 1977 Star Wars movie, during a scene between the two characters, Han shoots first; in George Lucas’s 1997 special edition, Greedo shoots first – a change which infuriated fans ). Ford’s response? “I don’t know and I don’t care.” Other gems from the AMA session included Ford’s response to the question “If you and Mark Hamill fought who would win?” (“Me, of course”) his take on cats (“Cats are fine”) and his favourite type of cheese (Manchego).