A new kind of role for Harrison Ford 

Harrison Ford could have retired decades ago, living comfortably off the royalties he earned from the first “Star Wars” trilogy. Instead, he recently held court in a chilly conference room at the Ritz-Carlton, promoting “Extraordinary Measures,” in which he stars opposite Brendan Fraser as a brilliant but socially maladroit doctor devising a groundbreaking treatment for Pompe disease.
What’s most striking about Ford, 67, is not his conditioning — which is impressive — or even the stud in his left ear. (Ford explains with a sheepish grin that he was celebrating years ago with Jimmy Buffett and Ed Bradley, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.)
What’s remarkable is how unaffected he seems.
He might be the richest actor alive — the Guinness Book of Records says so — but without his work, he says, he feels “useless.”
Unlike some of his acting peers, Ford has never felt an urge to direct. But that doesn’t mean he’s willing to surrender creative control of the projects dearest to him.
He optioned the rights to the story of John Crowley, the real-life biotech executive who devoted all his resources to finding a cure for Pompe disease, a potentially lethal metabolic disorder that affected his two youngest children.
But Ford didn’t want to make another “Patch Adams.”
“We’ve seen too many warm-and-fuzzy doctors,” he says. “I did my research, and I met with some very charming and well-adjusted research scientists. But as a producer, I was in a position to influence the script early, and I wanted to do something different.
“I play a doctor who presents both opportunity and obstacle. He might be the guy Crowley is looking for, but he’s difficult to work with. He lacks social graces. But what attracts Crowley to him, finally, is my character’s passion for science.”
Dr. Robert Stonehill is a different kind of role for the iconic action hero, who resurrected Indiana Jones in 2008’s “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and plans to do so again, provided it doesn’t take another
20 years.
But that’s exactly why he pursued it.
“Stonehill is an atypical part for me, but if you want a good role, you have to build it yourself, from the ground up,” he says. “You have to become part of the process, because there are a lot of bad scripts out there. This is one of three or four stories I’ve been working on, and ‘Extraordinary Measures’ is the movie that lived to tell the tale. It’s not a product of market research.”


In “Extraordinary Measures,” Harrison Ford, as a grumpy researcher, plays against the action-hero type.

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