Not hard to say yes to new Star Wars movie, says Harrison Ford
At 75, Harrison Ford, already one of the planet's most recognisable faces, is set to garner a whole new generation of fans
It's still Han Solo who walks into the interview room at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Older and grayer, perhaps a bit slower.
But the face is still one of the most recognisable on the planet and he's still got all his hair, as he proudly informs us.
Harrison Ford is one of the highest-grossing actors of all time, and at 75, will soon garner a whole new generation of fans with the latest Star Wars movie that opens in Singapore tomorrow, which sees him reprise his role as the charismatic captain of the Millennium Falcon and one of the great leaders of the Rebel Alliance from the original trilogy which spanned 1977 to 1983.
A quick look at his career will show all the iconic characters he has played and the enduring films he has made, aside from Star Wars - the Indiana Jones movies, Blade Runner, Witness, The Fugitive, Working Girl, Patriot Games, Air Force One and Regarding Henry, which is where he first met The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, the then 23-year-old who wrote its screenplay.
Though the US actor tries to give the impression of grouchiness, Ford's wit and that twinkle in his eye draw people to him.
The press tour must have been gruelling, especially after his plane accident in March that left him with a broken pelvis and ankle, but the private pilot strolls into the room and starts off with: "You haven't seen the film? Well, I will act it out for you. In the film, there is a character called Ham Yoyo. I don't play him."
Was it hard to say yes to The Force Awakens? Did you do it for the fans?
No, I did it as usual, for myself. Because it was a very good script and it was a great use of the character.
And I have a terrific director whom I have long admired and been friendly with.
Besides that, I didn't have a job.
You had said before that you were tired of it and you wanted Han Solo to die.
I made statements 25 years ago that I was tired of putting on that costume.
But 25 years later, there it is in the back of the closet and it's got a nice look to it, I will try it again.
And I did say that I wanted Han Solo to die in the original and that wasn't because I thought I didn't want to play the character, but I didn't anticipate at that point that there would ever be another film.
There were only the first three. I wanted the character to have some purposeful addition to the film.
So I thought it would be great if the most cynical were converted to believe in the force or the goodness of the mission of the heroic characters and would sacrifice himself and lend some gravitas to the enterprise.
But (Star Wars creator) George Lucas said no.
THE MOVIE: A scene from the movie with Chewbacca (left, played by Peter Mayhew) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford). PHOTO: WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
So what was it like coming back?
They put my name on my dressing room, that helps a lot (laughs). I was glad to be back and I had a fun time with Carrie (Fisher) and Mark (Hamill) and the new young actors are terrific.
It could have been silly, but it wasn't, it was fun.
Did you connect with Han Solo differently after all these years?
I think it's interesting that the character was written to be consistent with the character that we have met years ago but he's like a bigger tree, there are more rings in the trunk and he has had more experience.
It should be apparent, if I have done my job correctly, that he has had experiences which have changed him and which we will reference in the telling of the story, so that it's the same guy, only better.
Do you get the deep devotion of the Star Wars fans?
It is often assumed somehow that for me it's the same experience as the fans, and they wonder why I don't have the same apparent devotion to the detail and the minutiae of the films.
That's because I work on them. It's a very different experience.
They see it from the front side, I see it from the back side. I love it, it's been very, very good to me.
I am totally respectful of the quality of the enterprise. But it serves me in a different way and I am invested in it in a different way than the fans are.
So I can't be a fanboy about it. That's just where I work.
Is there anything about flying the Millennium Falcon that is like flying a plane?
Movies is all pretending. Oscar Isaac asked me because he knew I was a pilot. He said, 'How do you do this? We have got to fly this X-wing thing, what do you think I ought to do?'
And I said, 'You ought to just make s*** up because nobody knows' (laughs).
Do you still fly planes after your recent crash?
I just crash them, I don't fly them (laughs).
I just take them out in front of the hangar and drive old cars into them. I started flying as soon as I could get in my helicopter and I had a cast on my right leg but my toes were hanging out so I could put my toes over the anti-torque pedals and fly. I have been flying ever since.
But it serves me in a different way and I am invested in it in a different way than the fans are. So I can't be a fanboy about it. That's just where I work.
- Harrison Ford, on not fanboying about his role in the Star Wars universe.
Carrie Fisher: 'I have a new hairstyle but it reminds me of a baboon ass'
Carrie Fisher is a child of Hollywood royalty and her famous parents, actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, made headlines when Fisher went off with actress Elizabeth Taylor.
Carrie Fisher herself has been making headlines, with marriages that have crumbled, drug addiction and bipolar disorder.
The 59-year-old US actress forged her own career in movies playing small roles, but it is her accomplishments as a writer (Postcards From The Edge) that are the most note-worthy.
But perhaps the biggest headline she is stuck with is being Princess Leia, with the iconic buns and metallic bikini, and now that she is back in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we ask if, among all she has achieved and survived, this fact bothers her.
RETURN: Actress Carrie Fisher (left, at the Hollywood premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) reprises her role as an older Princess Leia (right).
We are at the Los Angeles Convention Center for the press junket, and Fisher is eccentric, adorable, funny as always, and half her normal size (more on that later).
"Wouldn't that be a stupid thing for it to bother me?" she answers. "No, I joined up with it... She was an independent, strong, outspoken person and I wonder who I would have been without her."
That was one of the few straight answers we could get out of her.
Regarding Leia, will she still have the buns?
"I have a new hairstyle very briefly, but it reminds me of a baboon ass, so that is the next level for me."
What about the costume?
"(It's) a little like a high fashion garage attendant that puts gas in the car, if I'm saying it right, which I am not."
Actors John Boyega and Carrie Fisher embrace as they arrive at the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Hollywood, California December 14, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS
Is Leia still feisty?
"You get less feisty as you get older. It gets slower. Yeah, feisty is sort of weird-looking at our age, isn't it?"
Okay, will we at least recognise her on screen?
"You'll recognise me. I look melted and I look my age. Unfortunately, I don't want to look my age. I would do everything but have serious surgery for it."
We talk about the 16kg she had to shed for The Force Awakens.
"My physical self and I are not friends. We're not speaking and I'm ignoring especially my arms lately.
"I've never liked my appearance and they were right to tell me to lose that weight. No one forced me to do anything because I know the word 'no'. I know it wouldn't have been received well so I lost weight.
"They want to hire three-quarters of myself and I leave a quarter of myself at home. First movie they told me to lose (4.5kg) and now there was more."
Was there a moment that stood out for her during filming?
"Well, when I first got there, I was in my trailer and I heard Harrison's footsteps and I still know that sound. And then he just came and said without enthusiasm 'Carrie's here', so that was very special," she says with a laugh.
Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope starring (from left) Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia and Harrison Ford as Han Solo. PHOTO: LUCASFILM
The three of them, including 64-year-old Hamill who plays her twin brother Luke Skywalker, have stayed in touch over the years. Fisher recalls their connection fondly.
"Harrison was our adult person on the first movies. Now he's not, but he was and it was fun to see. We grew up together and we had this extraordinary experience together that was unprecedented, so we shared that and we still laugh at each other."
When asked for her reaction to Ford's plane crash, there are more wisecracks. (Ford is 75.)
"I offered to fly that day and he said no. Why is he doing these things, a man his age?" she says with a laugh.
"I had lots of conversations with him. Doesn't listen to me, can you believe it? Don't fly a plane over 70."
Never say die
Number of years it took these actors to reprise their hit movie roles
Blade Runner (1982) to sequel planned for 2017
TRON (1982) to TRON: Legacy (2010)
Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989) to Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny (2016)
Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003) to Terminator Genisys (2015)
Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason (2004) to Bridget Jones' Baby (2016)
Rocky Balboa (2006) to Creed (2015)