Harrison Ford Indiana Jones DVD cover

From Carpentry to Millennium Falcon: The Exciting Launch of Harrison Ford’s Stardom

In 1964, Harrison Ford knew he wanted to pursue acting. He also knew that, in order to do so, he must go where the action was: Hollywood. As this was 60 years ago, radio was still a viable medium and preferred to actors a means of earning a living. Such was Harrison’s thinking when he applied to do voiceover work. While he did not land the gig, Harrison chose to remain in Los Angeles and pursue other avenues. One of those avenues was Columbia Pictures’ new-talent program. He signed a contract worth $150 a week to fulfil bit parts in the studio’s films; however, a fateful interaction with producer Jerry Tokofsky on the set of the 1966 crime-drama Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round landed Ford at the bottom of the pile of acting hopefuls. Harrison made a quip that did not endear him to the producer. Ironic that he would get his big break in 1977 playing a character with a similar attitude.

Before THAT role, though, came another with a relative newcomer to the directing game: George Lucas. The film was the ’50s flashback American Graffiti (1973), starring Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfuss. At the time, Harrison had turned to carpentry as a means of supporting his then-wife and two young sons. The self-taught craftsman was discovered by casting director and producer Fred Roos, who secured him an audition with Lucas for the role of Bob Falfa, a drag racer whose minimal time on the screen didn’t prevent Ford from charming audiences with his smirk.

It’s that smirk that Lucas was looking for when casting for the role of Han Solo in his sci-fi action film, Star Wars (1977). The film would go on to be one of the greatest in American cinema and make superstars of its main cast, including Ford. Two sequels would come in quick succession: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Return of the Jedi (1983). Both featured Ford as the swashbuckler pilot of the Millennium Falcon (and lifelong friend of Chewbacca). Throughout the subsequent decades, Star Wars Universe prequels and offshoots would come and go but none would involve Ford until 2015’s The Force Awakens, and again in 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker.

For more on the life and career of Harrison Ford, check out our Net Worth article on the actor.