Harrison Ford and his wife Calista Flockhart
At first glance, he comes across as being grouchy. Not very amenable. The kind of free-spirited person with little inclination to chat. And yet, get him started on wine and the man behind Han Solo and Indiana Jones is much more open... in fact, he even becomes talkative!
If I tell you you're a legend, what is your reaction?
Bad! (laughs). I don't find myself particularly fascinating, nor do I see myself as unique. It just so happens that I have a job and that job is making films. Some people in life are mechanics, dentists, bricklayers... I'm an actor. It's an incredibly simple job. Mechanic - technical. When your toilet gets clogged, you call a plumber who knows what to do. I do the same thing. When a director makes a movie, he calls an actor who knows the ropes! I know how to stand in front of a camera and deliver emotions. It's no more complicated than that. Basically, I'm just a normal guy. Hopelessly normal. It's like cooking, I don't like fuss.
Do you like cooking?
Yes, it's my passion, along with aircraft! But I don't spend my days behind the stove either. I like quick meals. You’re not likely to see me making coq au vin any time soon. No, what I do best is pizza! Otherwise, I'm not a big fan of gourmet restaurants. Maybe that's because their chefs take themselves too seriously. I love, for example, eating at roadside restaurants. The food’s good, simple and hearty, and you get served fast! My son, Ben, is a chef. He's managed to combine good food without us having to wait forever to enjoy it. I like efficiency! You know, basically, I'm a manual person. That's why I feel a connection with people who work on the land. Like farmers and winegrowers...
At the age of 24, after being told that I would never make it in Hollywood, I had to get a job to pay my rent. And fast, because I had two sons and a wife to feed! As I was a handyman, I took a job as a carpenter on the construction site of a recording studio for a Brazilian composer. I didn't know anything about the job, but I did some research. As the months went by, the people who employed me appreciated my work. Word of mouth did the rest. Everyone wanted me to make a door here, a desk there or a bookcase. I only worked for rich people and I always had a full order book.
And what about wine, do you have any specific expectations?
What has always surprised me in the wine world is that the people who make it are humble and work hard to achieve quality, because it's a very competitive industry. What I like least is when wine becomes elitist, and therefore sometimes inaccessible for the average person, which is profoundly unjust. Why should one person have the right to treat their palate more than another? Good wine is like happiness, everyone should have access to it!
If Harrison Ford were a wine, what would it be?
A wine with character! A wine that should be uncorked without rushing it too much. Otherwise it turns sour. I would be a wine with a basic label and minimalist design. I have learned over time that you have to be wary about packaging! Nowadays, when people buy wine, they buy the contents and not the container. Unfortunately, there are still some naïve people willing to spend a fortune because they think that a wine called Château Thingy or one with a nice bottle, is bound to be good! If only they knew that behind it all are teams paid to do the packaging!
What's the best wine you've ever drunk?
I don't know! That's like asking me my favourite movie. I think it's all about combinations. Who are you drinking the wine with, and with what food? When the two come together, there's every likelihood your wine will be even better. Wine is a pleasure that should not be enjoyed alone, but with others! Sharing means engagement, conversation and interaction! My job also allows me to travel a lot. So, I have been able to enjoy food and wine that I would never have discovered if I had stayed in my native Chicago! What I love about wine is that it allows you to push the boundaries and explore all kinds of new sensations!
And how do you burn off the calories?
I once read a study that suggested that drinking a glass of red wine a day would help you lose weight! I have my doubts! Personally, I chop wood, sweep the chimney, do some DIY at home and play tennis daily with a professional trainer. “Social tennis” bugs me. The same goes for competitions. I don't play tennis to win or score points, I play tennis because it keeps me in shape!
Is it true that you were paid $1,000 a day in 1977 to play Han Solo!
No! You must be kidding! It was $1,000 a week! George Lucas was already a past master at handling people! I was broke at the time and struggling to break through. So when George offered me a job and the opportunity to land a major role, I jumped at the opportunity without asking myself too many questions.
Is ‘ageing’ a verb that scares you?
It depends on how you conjugate it! (laughs). As far as I'm concerned, I don't like people who say you can't do such and such a thing past a certain age. Age is meaningless to me. Remaining credible, however, is essential. Jumping into a fast-moving car when you're 97 is something the audience will have a hard time buying! Basically, it's a little like wine. The label doesn't matter. Some wines bottled less than ten years ago can delight your palate but also be corked. Just like wines over a century old! Age doesn't matter. What is important is not the year, nor the price you pay. It's who you're going to enjoy it with!
Interview by Frank Rousseau, our correspondent in the United States.