Harrison Ford has reason to be all smiles these days: new movie, new love, his star on Hollywood Boulevard. Then why isn't he smiling? Where is that lighter-on-his-feet Harrison that we were told was prevalent?
As quiet and solemn as ever while promoting his Hollywood Homicide comedy, the 60-year old star still refuses to give the press anything away. Neatly attired in a blue suit, Ford's tired demeanour may have to do with the hours of interviews and photo shoots, or perhaps he really does hate this process. If he does, he's not admitting it. "I think it's an obvious opportunity to bring attention to the release of the film. I don't think it's all that difficult and all," he says, quietly.
It's when the press tries to get the actor to talk about his private life that the actor's quiet tone changes to one of obvious annoyance, especially since his relationship with Calista Flockhart has made many a magazine cover.
"I think journalism has change a bit and the paparazzi journalism has become the norm now," Ford says when asked about the reaction to the media's obsession with the actor's private life.
"People follow you around and take pictures of me and they are in all the magazines the next week, along with untested, untrue information. Our laws don't allow you to seek compensation for the injury caused by it, because you have to prove that there is intent to harm."
He blames much of this new media frenzy on the Internet "which contains no test of truth to the things that people write anymore." Ford says that the public's ongoing fascination is "that they don't have much effect over their own lives and so are fascinated by those people that they somehow suspect do."
Asked how the media intrusion affects his and Flockhart's relationship, Ford pauses. "Well, you know it doesn't affect my relationship. We're both grown-ups and understand where the truth is. It's just a nuisance and an annoyance."
Sullen he may be off screen when talking to the press, but his sense of humour is far more prevalent in front of the cameras, starring opposite Josh Hartnett in Hollywood Homicide, which revolves around two LAPD homicide detectives who moonlight in other fields: Joe Gavilan (Ford), a real estate agent and K.C. Calden (Hartnett), a yoga instructor and wannabe actor.
They investigate the slaying of a rap group on stage that is possibly orchestrated by Sartain (Isaiah Washington), a notorious rap label boss who is rumoured to have arranged the death of rap artists in the past who wanted to get out of their contracts, and whose head of security is himself a former LAPD officer. But the murder investigation is secondary to the film's comedic overtones, and for Ford, the film [unscripted when it initially came to him] gave him the chance to return to comedy.
"I always try to do different kinds of films and after K-19 it seemed like a good idea to do a comedy or something a little lighter."
The actor adds that this particular comedy afforded the actor a chance to "play a character that has a lot of pressures on him and it seemed a mix of the relationship with Josh would be good chemistry. As there wasn't a finished script when I agreed to be part of this, I recognized something that would gives us a lot of comic opportunity and would have a unique aspect to it. It would be a way of bringing some new life to the comedy genre type film and as I say I thought it was a good time for me to do a comedy, so it looked like a good fit."
The film's music, primarily hip-hop, seemed an interesting contrasting to Ford's old-fashioned Hollywood persona. He admits to not being a fan of the music at all, but has grown to like the diverse likes of Eminem, Blackalicious and Black-Eyed Peas.
An Eminem concert seems the last place to find Ford, but says he likes the rapper's "originality, his particular point of view and his own craft of storytelling."
Perhaps his new-found love of rap music is a way of allowing him to remain connected to a young audience, but if that's so, he scoffs at the suggestion. It's pure coincidence that his latest film pairs him opposite one of Hollywood's hottest young stars, whom he merely describes as "a very capable actor".
"He's had some great opportunities at a very young age, so he's got a bit more experience than someone might anticipate than a twenty three year old kid would have." Hartnett himself said that Ford derived pleasure from "fucking with my head." In a rare light moment from the veteran Ford, he says "that was so easy to do."
Ford denies any parallels between his and Hartnett's careers. "It certainly does not parallel mine, as I didn't make a living in this business until I was about thirty-five years old." Even on American Graffiti, the film that essentially began it all for the rising star at the time, "I was the oldest guy on the set other than the honey wagon driver, and I was playing a teenager. But I came out here at about Josh's age, twenty-three and it was twelve years before I made a living." The film he did, 12 years later, was Star Wars, and Harrison Ford hasn't looked back since.
Yet just recently, this Hollywood icon finally received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Even the actor admits, laughingly, that he was surprised it took so long.
"Because when I first came out here thirty years ago there was already a star out in front of Musso and Franks that bore my name. I thought: 'How fascinating.' But then I realized when I went to sign up at the Screen Actors Guild, that they already had a Harrison Ford who was indeed the owner of that and was a silent screen actor. So until he died I was billed as Harrison J. Ford for two little parts that I played or something and I think that after a while most people began to think that the star out in front of Musso and Franks was mine, so I really didn't feel I had any need to get a star on Hollywood Boulevard."
Yet now that it's done, Ford is pleased but surprisingly cynical. "It was very nice that it happened so close to the occasion of the release of Hollywood Homicide," he says with a wry smile. That's really what it's about so I'm not fooling anybody about that."
Ford will be 63 when the long awaited Indiana Jones 4 finally hits screens. Still reticent about talking about the role that firmly established him as a major star, he looks forward to exploring the character as a 60-year old, not so much as an action hero.
"I don't play the action hero. I play Indiana Jones, who has an opportunity to grow old as well as any other character. So I think as long as I feel fit and stay in shape I can continue to run, jump and fall down, I will." Ford says he still hasn't seen a script but "Steven is quite happy with it. I expect to see it within the next few weeks."
And while, in Hollywood Homicide, Ford's Joe Gavilan likes to moonlight in another profession, there is no sign of the veteran actor changing careers in the foreseeable future. "I love my work and I have a great time every time I work on a film. It's a whole new bunch of people, a whole new idea, a whole new problem to solve and that's what I like to do."