Friday, February 7, 2014

I Met Harrison Ford Once, and He Acted Like a Jerk

In 1995, I was one of the organizers of the New York City premiere of a movie called "Sabrina."  From left to right, Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, Sydney Pollack, and Greg Kinnear.  I was standing maybe ten feet away when this picture was taken.  Everybody was so nice that night, except Harrison Ford. 

I'm a person who ends up meeting famous people a lot.

I don't try to do this.  I don't really care about famous people.  And it's not like they would ever remember meeting me.  It's just this random thing that happens. 

I'm told it has to do with astrology.  That's as good a reason as any.

Some examples, you say?

I once met Sylvester Stallone in an elevator.  I met Brian Setzer backstage at a Stray Cats concert.  One time I was walking in a park in Vancouver, British Columbia, I turned a corner, and literally bumped into the actress Heather Graham.  I would have knocked her to the pavement, except I caught her in my strong Irish arms.

At different times, I've had breakfast with Douglas Osheroff, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics, and a woman named Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize.  I once ate lunch with Bonnie Raitt.  I ate dinner with the poet Allen Ginsberg.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Anyway, never mind all that.  This is a story about Harrison Ford.  The year was 1995.  And I was a young adult.

For some reason I was one of 10 or 12 people who organized the New York City premiere of a movie called "Sabrina," which was a remake of a much earlier movie starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, and William Holden.

Film poster of the original Sabrina movie.

The new version of "Sabrina" starred Harrison Ford, and film newcomers Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear.  I'm not really sure what happened with Julia Ormond, but Greg Kinnear went on to become a pretty big star in his own right.

Harrison Ford, as I'm sure you know, was the biggest movie star in the world.  He was, and remains, one of my favorite actors.    

As it turned out, the movie was kind of a critical disaster and a box office flop.  But the event itself was a star-studded, glimmering gala and a rousing success.  It raised about $250,000 for charity in one night.

Here's how it went.  The movie was shown at the Paramount Lincoln Square Theater on Broadway in midtown Manhattan.  It's a Loews now.  The limos pulled up in front, there's the red carpet, the swarm of paparazzi vermin held back by a velvet rope.

The celebs rolled in.  And the Wall Street types.  Sumner Redstone, who owned half of Hollywood and was one of the richest men on earth at that moment, was there.  We snapped a few photos as people arrived, and the bigwigs went in and I guess they watched the movie.

I was busy running around with a Motorola walkie-talkie and acting important.  So I missed the movie in its entirety.  No great loss, as I understand.

Afterwards, there was dinner at Tavern on the Green restaurant, which is about five minutes away on the edge of Central Park.

When I got to the restaurant, more rich and famous people were milling around.  Kathleen Turner, often tapped as the sexiest actress of the 1980s, was already so drunk that the wall needed her to hold it up.

Gratuitous shot of Kathleen Turner, in case you've forgotten who that is.

Dinner was about to be served, but we had to get some more photographs of the three stars standing together before that happened.

Greg Kinnear and Julia Ormond were already in a back room with the two official photographers.  But Harrison Ford wasn't around.

I went into the dining room, and there was Harrison Ford, sitting at a table with his wife Melissa Mathison.  Melissa was the person who wrote the screenplay for the movie ET, which was such a mega-monster-hit during my childhood.  

Melissa Mathison and Harrison Ford in happy times.  Does he look just a little devious here? 

Harrison Ford noticeably scowled when he saw me approach the table, big black Motorola in my hand.  They only made them in black.  Any color you want, as long as it's black.

"Mr. Ford?" I said.  "We're ready for you to do your photos now."

He barely looked at me.  "No pictures," he said.

Yeah.  I was kind of afraid of that.

It had been impressed upon me days earlier that this might happen, and that there was a clause in ol' Harrison's contract which meant he had to pose for publicity photos.  He had no choice but to do the photos, and I had no choice but to try and coax him into that back room.

"I promise," I said.  "This is going to be completely painless.  Ten minutes, and we'll have you back here before the..."

He raised a hand, a stop-sign hand like a school crossing guard.  He gave me those angry movie star eyes.  You know the eyes.  You've seen the movies.

"Hey!  Buddy.  What did I just say to you?  I said no pictures.  Do you understand what that means?"

I did.  I understood.  Harrison turned away from me now, as if I were no longer there.  So I backed off maybe ten feet to regroup and strategerize my next move.

After a moment, his wife Melissa got up from the table and came over to me.  She smiled, maybe to put me at my ease, or maybe because it was, after all, no big deal.  Honestly, how many photos can one man pose for?

"Give me five minutes alone with him," she said.  "I'll get him in there."

"You got it," I said, and made myself disappear.

When I returned five minutes later to see how things were progressing, he was already in the back room, hamming it up with the other stars, all smiles, flashbulbs popping.

Of course, we know how this love story ends.  Some years passed, and Harrison dumped Melissa overboard for the much younger, very slim, if not anorexic TV star, Ally McBeal.

Then Melissa turned around and jacked Harrison hard for a divorce settlement worth in the neighborhood of $90 million dollars.

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  1. sorry han solo through you under the bus, melissa, butthat skinny girl has u beat for real.

  2. So, you never had a bad day, you must be a very happy guy. Kudos to you, and your walkie-talkie.

  3. I've had a lot of bad hair days, if that's what you mean. I mean wild, untamed hair. Or, you know, sometimes helmet-head. Embarrassing.

  4. Well he does have somewhat if a reputation of being a douche amongst the little people who are not anyone who is someone, but then I've never met the guy so I can't make that judgement for myself. From what I've read and heard from people who have met him I consider myself fortunate that I haven't.

  5. Two of my brothers met Harrison Ford on Kauai and both of them swear he was very cool to them in person. He introduced himself as "Harrison" (even though he really needed no introduction) and was very down-to-Earth both times. I suspect, as with anyone including non-superstar regular people, you caught him at a moment when he was simply not interested in taking photos. Honestly, if Harrison Ford called me "buddy" face-to-face I would be thrilled. For years, I kept an Indiana Jones comic book on my store counter, just in the off-chance that I was next to have Harrison walk into my store on Kauai and I would get him to sign it. Wishful thinking, I know. -Ron Ferraro

  6. Harrison's probably cool. I imagine I caught him on a bad day. Bad movie, probably not that psyched about doing the promo stuff around it. How about this? I met a fishing guide in Tahiti last summer. A couple years ago, Dustin Hoffman came out with him, wanted the whole experience. Insisted on doing everything, right down to gutting and cleaning the fish, then taking them down to the big tree in town where everybody sells their catch.


    I leave this with interpret as you desire.

  8. So you were bothering him to take pictures while he was trying to eat. He said no, and you bothered him again. I think we know who the jerk is in this situation.

  9. Oh yeah, right. So I guess it's supposed to be mee that's the jerk, eh? And not Harrison Ford? Good one.

  10. That Podcast with Harrison Ford is funny. Its quite tongue and check all the way through. No wonder he's so exasperated, the vast majority of these people don't get it. By "it", I mean life.


  11. Melissa Mathison (Harrison's ex-wife) died last fall, from cancer. Very said. She was a great screenwriter, and gave people a lot of joy with E.T.

  12. You were the jerk! Some people just want to be left alone, and you kept bothering him. You make it sound like a huge ordeal. You must have an incredibly huge ego if you think you're really that special. You're just a nobody, to Harrison Ford, and to everyone else.

  13. Hi Rachel. Good points! I don't feel inferior to movie stars, if that's what you mean by "incredibly huge ego." Also, I "bothered" him exactly once, asking him to do something he had already agreed to do.

    No ordeal at all. It was kind of fun, in fact.

  14. Years ago I met someone who had a mutual friend of Ford's who tried to introduce himself to Ford at a small intimate Hollywood gathering and Ford was super rude to him. Later the mutual friend levelled Ford for trashing his best friend. It was said to be quite ugly behaviour of this ageing show biz putz.

  15. I have read the Harrison Ford is a jerk everywhere online. I have seen that arrogant jerk treat people like dirt. Harrison, if you are reading this, nobody will mouen you when you die. Burn in Hell along with Frank Sinatra.

  16. I'dve waited until he finished his meal. After that he'dve probably been much nicer to you. And it would've been worth waiting for in the first place.

    1. It's like nobody actually read the story. He wasn't asking for a person picture, it was his job to bring Ford back to take the profession pictures for the event lol. Everyone is so fucking lazy, the tldr generation is a massive disappointment.

    2. The timing would have been wrong. See, because we needed the pics for the publicity. And he was contracted to pose for the pics. If I waited until after dinner, he would have just left.