I have spoken to Harrison Ford on several occasions and one thing that immediately is apparent is that he is not the most nostalgic fellow. In fact, he was quite vocal on his opinions about some of his most iconic characters, from Han Solo (he said there was very little that was redeemable about the space jockey) to Indiana Jones (referred to him as a fun guy who could be someone he could revisit (and is with Indiana Jones 5 recently announced)).
You can imagine our surprise when sitting down with the legendary actor for the Blade Runner 2049 press conference to hear that his character from 1982’s Blade Runner, Rick Deckard, is actually someone he has waxed poetic about quite frequently over the decades.
“I’ve thought about it frequently because I’ve been reminded of how many filmmakers took inspiration from that film and how much it defined a certain kind of fatal storytelling (and) how strongly the effect of that film has been on our culture. And the prescience of how many things that were imagined might be part of the future. It’s had a huge influence on our culture and my life,” Ford admitted.
When it comes to which version of the original film he enjoys the most, he doesn’t hesitate when asked. In hindsight, considering what a friend and fan of the first film’s director, Ridley Scott, his answer is hardly a surprise. “There were a variety of endings and [the last one was] Ridley’s ‘Final Cut.’ I was much happier with that version than the one with the voice over and sailing into the sunset,” he said and smiled.
Scott is the executive producer on this film. He stepped back and smartly let someone else take the reins for Blade Runner 2049. Scott’s choice of French Canadian auteur Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) was a stroke of genius. As soon as Ford got to the set, he said he had a few bouts of déjà vu and credits that fact to the astounding set design that allowed the actors to literally dive into this world without having to act on a green screen with a slew of CGI work done later.
“It did bring back memories of the first film. It was raining, like, all the time,” Ford said and laughed. The actor, who revived another one of his iconic roles recently with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, recalled a memory of making the first film that could also explain his eagerness to revisit this world decades later. “I was tired (making the first one) but I was happy at the result, and it was remarkable experience working with Ridley. But it was a long time ago in a world far, far away.”
Many actors might hesitate to return to a character they originated 30 years ago and haven’t gotten into their head in so long. It can be a challenge of enormous scale and the drawbacks could also be immense. After all, the first Blade Runner is so revered that it is in the United States Library of Congress for its contribution to our culture. Sure, Ford had often thought about Deckard and where the tough Replicant hunter might be and who he might have become. “This presented different opportunities to give the audience a better understanding of the character — to be part of the telling of the story,” Ford said.
When told by his longtime friend Scott of who would be involved in the story, it only added to his desire to return to this dark and dramatic future. “I was anxious to work with Ryan (Gosling) Denis. For me, it was a great opportunity.”
Gosling portrays an LAPD officer who goes simply by the name “K.” When he stumbles on a mystery that has enormous implications to the larger society as a whole in the titular year, “K” seeks out Deckard for help. They need urgent answers to legions of questions whose ramifications could shatter the delicate and fine line between order and chaos that this world of Blade Runner 2049 is straddling.
The script is top notch, as we stated in our Blade Runner 2049 review, but it is the eye candy of cinematographer Roger Deakins and production design team’s priceless efforts that adds layers of brilliance to Ford, Gosling and Villeneuve’s latest film.
“A picture is worth a thousand words, and when you get on a set where there’s been a lot of thought put into the visual aspects of it for that scene, you feel the support from it and you know what you don’t have to do. You have to be there, of course, for the other characters and service the story,” Ford said. “But so much is done in a visual way to certainly that encourages your confidence.”