By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Harrison Ford makes his peace with Han Solo
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, left, and Harrison Ford as Han Solo. - photo by Jim Bennett
I met Christopher Reeve in 1995, about three weeks before the tragic riding accident that rendered him a quadriplegic for the rest of his life. I was in Washington, D.C., working as an intern for Sen. Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming, and Reeve was scheduled to testify before Congress about funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Prior to his testimony, he was scheduled to personally meet with the senator. The entire staff was abuzz about the chance to meet a real movie star, but it was my enviable job to escort him from the Dirksen Senate Office Building to Sen. Simpsons hideaway in the basement of the Capitol.

I had completed an acting degree from the University of Southern California just two years earlier. One of my fellow USC acting students had worked as a dresser for Reeve, where he learned that Reeve wasnt happy that people couldnt separate the actor from the role that made him famous.

Sure enough, after his arrival, the two of us left for the Capitol, and another staff member called out, Hey, Superman! Reeve smiled back and waved, but he was visibly irritated as we walked toward the elevator.

Honestly, it was just a movie, he told me. Ive done so much since then, but nobody seems to notice.

I have to think thats a bit how Harrison Ford feels every time Star Wars comes up.

Over the years, Fords made it very clear that hes not a big fan of everyones favorite smuggler from the galaxy far, far away. In 2010, he told ABC news that as a character, (Han Solo) was not that interesting to me. He lobbied hard for George Lucas to kill off Han in Return of the Jedi, but Lucas refused. In that same 2010 interview, Ford noted that the reason Solo survived was that George didnt think there was any future in dead Han toys.


Well, that was before Disney bought the Star Wars franchise and cranked up production on a sequel to Jedi that has Han Solo front and center. And even though Ive seen the trailer for The Force Awakens about 8 billion times, give or take, I still get chills up my spine every time I hear Ford mutter, Chewie, were home. Like it or not, this new movie will ensure that Harrison Ford will be identified as Han Solo now and forever. And, unlike in 2010, he now seems to be OK with that.

Thats a pattern, incidentally, that has been adopted by many actors who are identified with iconic roles. There was a time when Sylvester Stallone made a slew of failed movies that tried to put as much distance between himself and Rocky as possible. (Anyone remember Oscar or Rhinestone? Anyone? Anyone?) William Shatner went on Saturday Night Live and snidely told Star Trek fans to get a life! after his co-star, Leonard Nimoy, wrote a book called I Am Not Spock. And poor Adam West lamented for decades that there was more to him than the Bam! Pow! Batman he played for three years.

But time has a way of mellowing people, and all of these men eventually came to embrace their place in the zeitgeist. I think part of that acceptance stems from the fact thats its awfully hard to feel sorry for someone in their position. After all, how many actors get a chance to make that kind of mark on pop culture? How many performers are that beloved? Shouldnt that kind of affection produce gratitude instead of resentment?

I think Harrison Ford understands that now. But if Peter Mayhew ever gets too big for his britches, Id be a natural second choice to play Chewbacca.
Sign up for our E-Newsletters