The Star Of Blade Runner 2049 Reveals Why A Real Man Should Never Rest On His Laurels

When it comes to ‘screen icon’ roles, Harrison Ford has bagged a basketful, including Deckard, the conflicted hero of Blade Runner. Here he reveals what keeps him working in his 70s and why the best meditation in the world is found above the clouds…

RISING Some have said this sequel to the original classic wasn’t required, so what made you want to do Blade Runner 2049? HARRISON FORD ‘The character is woven into the story in a way that intrigued me. There's a very strong emotional context. The relationship between the character Deckard, that I play, and other characters is fascinating. I think it's interesting to develop a character after a period of time, to revisit a character. It's fascinating that the original film postulated a technology, which, in many ways, we've surpassed and in other ways, we're not quite there. And this film takes into account the 30 years that have passed; it references technologies that actually are in place now, and also – to me, which is a little bit more interesting – acknowledges and deals with some of the ethical considerations that technology presents us with.’

RISING What was your experience of working with Ryan Gosling? HF ‘Ryan brings a real, original emotional intelligence. I never knew what I was going to get [while playing a scene with Gosling], which is a good thing. Ryan and my first big scene was talking about the history of Deckard, what he was up to for the last 30 years and I just found it unexpectedly emotional.’

RISING There’s one question from Blade Runner that’s still debated: is Deckard a replicant? HF ‘I asked Ridley [director Ridley Scott] whether or not he thought that the character I was playing was a replicant. Well, I never got a straight answer. Which is OK, I guess. But I thought it was important that the audience be able to have a human representative on screen, somebody that they could have an emotional understanding of. Ridley didn't think that was all that important… But I didn't play Deckard as a replicant. I think that it's a wonderful storytelling mechanism for that question to be left unanswered. I love that people are still curious about it.’

We’re all flawed as human beings and it’s the only thing that gives life and substance to characters

RISING Most of your characters, even your screen heroes, tend to be flawed, conflicted, or otherwise unglamorous. Is that a deliberate choice on your part? HF ‘Yes. I have never been interested in playing heroes. I've certainly never been interested in playing a character that didn't have a degree of complication even when they were meant to be, ultimately, heroic. I think that's much more interesting than playing the sort of slick, classic, All-American hero. We are all flawed as human beings and the only thing which gives life and substance to characters in movies are the flaws and contradictions which define them. I would like to think that those un-heroic elements are what have helped me have some longevity in this business. I play men who have particular dilemmas in their lives. More often than not, when these dilemmas and confrontations are dramatised, the characters I play come off as heroic but at heart they remain basic, down-to-earth individuals.’

RISING You've done some real life hero-like stuff such as rescuing people in your helicopter, haven't you? HF ‘No, not heroic, but just the kind of volunteer rescue work that a lot of people who own helicopters have performed. I've been in a position to help lift people out of trouble spots during fires or other mishaps and it's very gratifying to be able to do that. But I'm no hero. There are a lot of people who risk their lives regularly to fight forest fires in California and in Wyoming or who go into very dangerous territory doing real search and rescue work. I'm not in that league but I try to do my share.’

A real man should never rest on his laurels – he should prove his mettle every day. That has nothing to do with being macho, but with taking responsibility

RISING Is it important for you to keep on working? HF ‘A real man should never rest on his laurels. He should prove his mettle every day. That has nothing to do with being macho, but with taking responsibility for yourself and your family. With all my experiences, I have to say that I still struggle with a lot of the same problems and frustrations I've always had in life. But I do know how to better manage it all and approach problems and make my way through life with a little more grace and honour.’

RISING What do you get from your flying hours? HF ‘Flying gives me a combination of freedom and responsibility. You know, the freedom to be in charge of your own destiny, freedom to live by your own skills. It gives me real focus and a discipline and a commitment to the process and a freedom from everything else you're doing. So for me it's become very important to me because I like to acquire skills. I like to take responsibility for myself and I love being in the air and I love airplanes and I love seeing the world. I love the feeling of sitting in the cockpit high up above the clouds more than anything else. It's almost like meditation. It's the best relaxation in the world.’

WHAT NEXT? Watch Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford in the second trailer for the eagerly-awaited Blade Runner 2049, out in October…