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'Indiana Jones' Change Of Pace

Harrison Ford arrives at the 9th Annual City Harvest Practical Magic Ball on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 in New York.
AP
Oh, that wacky Harrison Ford, rigging his cell phone to announce calls with the tune of "My Girl" and chasing a bad guy on a child's pink bicycle.

Ford whose lineup of tough guys includes the gun slinging "Indiana Jones," dashing fly-boy Han Solo of the original "Star Wars" trilogy and a terrorist-bashing president in "Air Force One" has some fun with his heroic image in the action comedy "Hollywood Homicide."

"I was looking for something where I had a chance to push it a little more. I didn't want to be the straight man again in a comedy," Ford told The Associated Press during an interview at his home in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles.

Lightening up from last summer's box-office lemon, the well-reviewed thriller "K-19: The Widowmaker," Ford's new movie teams him with Josh Hartnett as cops clumsily cracking the slayings of a hip-hop group.

Ford, who turns 61 in July, made his first big splash 30 years ago with a small part in George Lucas' comedy "American Graffiti." He also has had solid success with strait-laced roles in romantic comedies like "Working Girl" and "Sabrina."

"Hollywood Homicide," though, is Ford's first attempt at madcap physical comedy. He croons and sways to Motown hits, and trades punches in a parody of the brawls that were all in a day's work for Indiana Jones.

Ford himself volunteered the idea of tailing an antagonist on a child's bike decorated with streamers and balloons.

"It's the most antic kind of comedy that I've done so far. Maybe that gives you the wrong impression when I say antic. I just mean that the style of the film is maybe a little looser, the characters are under more pressure, and thus, when they crack, they crack in different ways."

Whether Ford can pull it off remains to be seen — reviewer Anthony Breznican of The AP called the film "attempted comedy." And even as Ford's character cracks amid the strains of police work and a part-time job as a real-estate agent trying to broker a huge sale, he maintains a cool reserve that marks many of the actor's past roles.

Ford maintains a similar aloofness in interviews, which he does graciously but grudgingly. He declines to discuss his personal life, including his two grown children from his first marriage and his two younger ones from his second marriage.

The actor even told his girlfriend, former "Ally McBeal" star Calista Flockhart, that he would not discuss personal details when she interviewed him for the June issue of Interview magazine.

He ponders questions methodically before answering with austere courtesy, his expression rarely wavering from a tightlipped poker face. Ford's stoicism has prompted some interviewers to describe him as gruff and unsociable.

"I tend to be careful about what I say and how I say it," Ford said. "I don't like to see mischaracterizations based on my sloppy technique. So I tend to be a little more focused and precise about what I say to people."

Ford challenges the notion of his heroic on-screen persona. He insists the only flat-out action hero he has played is CIA analyst Jack Ryan in "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger."

"Raiders of the Lost Ark" and its two sequels were half fantasy-adventure, half comedy, said Ford. He hopes to reprise Indiana Jones with a fourth movie for release in 2005, reteaming with producer Lucas and director Steven Spielberg.

His other characters generally have been everyday sorts who must rise, sometimes heroically, to the occasion, or dark-tinged anti-heroes such as those he played in "Blade Runner" or "The Mosquito Coast."

Ford eventually would like to flesh out his roster of villains. He has only played one all-out bad guy, the deceitful husband in the ghost story "What Lies Beneath."

"Certainly, one is freer of the responsibility to the plot and story when you're a villain," Ford said. "I'm sure sometime in the future, I'll have the opportunity to play other kinds of villains.

"I have never been interested in playing heroes. I've certainly never been interested in playing a character that didn't have a degree of complication, which I've always tried to bring even when they were meant to be, finally, heroic. ... I think that's much more interesting than playing the sort of unvarnished hero."