July 9, 2023 | Dylan Fleury

Rugged Facts About Harrison Ford, The Risk-Taking Rogue

Harrison Ford has worked his whole life to bury his scandalous past, most notably, his penchant for womanizing and betrayal. Reckless and accident-prone, the actor has got himself into an unbelievable number of scrapes—both physical and emotional. Peel back the veil and discover the beloved Ford’s not-so-innocent backstory.

1. He Was A Late Bloomer

Although destined to become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, Harrison Ford wasn't always like the confident characters he became known for playing. In fact, Ford's shyness hearkens back to his childhood. Calling himself a "late bloomer," the youngster decided to take high school drama to overcome his social anxieties. It was a decision that changed the course of his life forever.

harrison ford


2. He Was A Troublemaker

Entranced by the world of acting, Ford decided to see if he could make a name for himself—but that was easier said than done. He took a leap and traveled to LA, bagging himself a contract with Columbia Pictures'. However, he got into trouble right out of the gates. While playing an uncredited role as a bellhop in 1966's Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round, the 22-year-old actor got burned so badly by one of the producers—it's unforgettable.

Harrison Ford factsDead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round (1966), Columbia Pictures

3. He Felt Condescended To

Producer Jerry Tokovsky really had it out for Harrison Ford. He liked to make the newcomer feel small and always called him "kid". According to Ford, Tokovsky called him into his office—and dressed him down in a horrible way. The producer reportedly said, "First time Tony Curtis was ever in a movie...he delivered a bag of groceries, a bag of groceries, kid. And you took one look at that guy, and you knew that was a movie star".

Ford's response was unforgettable.

Harrison Ford FactsGetty Images

4. He Offended The Head Honcho

Bristling at Tokovsky's blatant insult, Ford shot back, "Well I thought that was supposed to be a delivery boy!" Needless to say, the studio booted the fiery actor. Unfortunately, this was the beginning of a long streak of bad luck. Throughout the 60s, Ford floundered in Hollywood. His roles were largely uncredited and nobody wanted to hire him.

Sadly, his infamous confrontation with Tokovsky had tarnished his reputation. With his acting career slipping through his fingers, Ford had to find another way to bring home the bacon.

Harrison Ford FactsGetty Images

5. He Had A Complicated Marriage

You see, Ford had loved ones at home depending on him: his wife and two children. Of all his romances, his relationship with his first wife Mary Marquardt might be the most complicated. 15 years of complicated, to be more precise. Ford met Marquardt as a college student and they married in 1964. In fact, it was she who supported him, encouraging him to pursue acting in LA.

Little did she know, Hollywood would tear them apart.

Harrison Ford FactsGetty Images

6. He Was A Professional Carpenter

As the 60s wore on, Ford's mounting failures ground his confidence away bit by bit. He relied heavily on his wife, who worked as a chef—but with two small children, he needed to step up his game. Luckily, Ford was more than a one-trick pony and became a self-taught professional carpenter. He even worked for some of the most legendary names in history.

Harrison Ford FactsGetty Images

7. He Knew People In High Places

As a carpenter, two of Harrison Ford's high-profile clients were none other than prolific writers Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne. While visiting the writers' Malibu beach house, Ford and his wife became close friends with them. For a while, he entertained a living outside of the acting realm—but, of course, by the time the 70s hit, it was only a matter of time before fame and fortune came knocking.

Harrison Ford FactsGetty Images

8. He Never Gave Up His Ambition

Harrison Ford's refusal to abandon his ambition for acting eventually paid off. In 1973, he landed a role in George Lucas' American Graffiti—but even this success was a disappointment. In the wake of such a hit, Ford had little to show for it. Francis Ford Coppola gave him a few small roles and a job building portico doors, but this wasn't exactly a dream come true.

Destiny had a weird way of working out for Ford though—and it was his door-building expertise that led him straight to the ultimate jackpot.

Harrison Ford FactsAmerican Graffiti (1973), Universal Pictures

9. His Road To Star Wars Wasn't Easy

As we know, Harrison Ford's big break came along with his role as Han Solo in Star Wars. But his journey to landing the role has a unique backstory. You see, George Lucas had no interest in recasting an actor he'd previously worked with as he feared audiences might call the film, "American Graffiti in space". Casting director Fred Roos, thinking this was a big mistake, came up with a plan.

Harrison Ford factsStar Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Lucasfilm


10. He Had A Serendipitous Meeting

On the day of the casting call, Roos hired Ford to build a door at the location. This way, Lucas would run into the hopeful actor whether he liked it or not. As Roos later recalled, "Harrison had done a lot of carpentry for me…He needed money, he had kids, he wasn’t a big movie star yet. The day he was doing it, George happened to be there. It was serendipitous".

Clearly, Ford made a singular impression on Lucas and won him over. But his experience on the set of Star Wars became more scandalous than his wildest dreams.

Carrie Fisher factsFlickr, Tom Simpson

11. He Fell For A Teenager

While filming Star Wars, Harrison Ford and his lovely co-star, Carrie Fisher, shared a very serious secret—one that has only come to light recently. Turns out, their on-screen chemistry wasn't all acting. Behind closed doors, they embarked upon a passionate affair. In her scintillating memoir, The Princess Diarist, Fisher detailed her first impressions of her wildly attractive love interest.

Carrie Fisher factsFlickr, Tom Simpson

12. He Made Her Nervous

To Fisher, Harrison seemed larger than life. What's more? She had no inkling that anything romantic would spark between them. On set, Ford seemed to wear a permanent scowl, and as Fisher remembered, "Harrison made me feel nervous. I got tongue-tied in his company, and clumsy. I was with him when we worked together and tried to avoid him otherwise, so as not to annoy him".

But that wasn't all.

Carrie Fisher factsFlickr, Tom Simpson

13. He Was So Much Older Than Her

There was a pretty significant age gap between the two actors. Fisher was only 19, and Ford was 34 and married. Not exactly a match made in heaven. After all, Fisher was still brutally naïve and completely infatuated with her older co-star. He had all the power in this situation and knew exactly how to wield it. On one fateful night, Ford put the moves on Fisher for the first time—but her retelling of the episode had a surprising dark side.

Harrison Ford FactsStore Norske Leksikon

14. He Partied Hard

The illicit romance began in 1977. While filming Star Wars in London, the cast and crew celebrated George Lucas' birthday. At the party, Ford, along with everyone else, drank excessively. But soon, things swung out of control. Carrie Fisher, being the only woman at the get-together, became the butt of jokes: "here's our little princess without her buns".

Ford watched from the sidelines as Fisher succumbed to peer pressure and began drinking—something she never did. It ended badly.

Carrie Fisher factsFlickr, Alberto Botella

15. He Came To Her "Rescue"

When Ford witnessed a number of party-goers trying to lead the intoxicated Fisher away, he came to her "rescue". Ford reportedly said, "Pardon me, but the lady doesn't seem to be very aware of what she wants". With this tense situation on the verge of becoming a full-fledged fight, Ford yanked Fisher away and led her back to a car. And this is where his knight-in-shining-armor guise slips dramatically.

Carrie Fisher factsFlickr, Tom Simpson

16. He Took Advantage

This alcohol-induced passion play culminates in Ford taking advantage of Fisher himself. In the car, he starts furiously making out with her. In Fisher's memoir, she imbues the entire episode with a sense of romanticism, but upon closer inspection, there's something unsettling about this picture. Unfortunately, the heartwrenching truth behind Ford and Fisher doesn't end there.

Harrison Ford FactsGetty Images

17. He Kept His Heart Out Of It

According to Fisher, in the week following his dalliance with her, Ford remained as unreadable as ever. He kept her at arm's length...that is, until the next weekend came around and he found himself tangled up in bed with her once again. For Ford, it seemed like the affair didn't mean too much to him, while Fisher gave him her entire heart.

Certainly, the onscreen romance between Han Solo and Leia only bolstered Fisher's hopeless fantasies—but they were bound to crash and burn.

Harrison Ford factsStar Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Lucasfilm


18. He Had Other Priorities

Harrison Ford never made any move to further his relationship with Carrie Fisher. Meanwhile, his lover—utterly besotted—dreamed of him one day leaving his wife just to be with her. Even then, she recognized this as pure fantasy. Ford towered over Fisher as someone so handsome and so out of her league that she always felt unworthy of his affection.

In her memoir, Fisher wrote, "I’m sure on our relative lists of priorities, I might have ranked as high as number 15 on his agenda, while Harrison was my number one". She loved him deeply, but he ended things in a heartbreaking way.

Carrie Fisher factsGetty Images

19. He Walked Away

For Harrison Ford, his brief affair with Carrie Fisher was always meant to be a film fling—nothing more. He hooked up with her throughout filming, but when the work had finished, the passion ran its course. He walked away as taciturn and composed as ever, while Fisher scribbled furiously in her diary and bared her heart on the page.

Of course, decades later, this secret romance would come back to haunt him.

Princess Leia factsGetty Images

20. He Was A Lady's Man

After struggling so long to make a name for himself, Star Wars was the answer to all of Ford's hopes and dreams. The hit film catapulted him to permanent stardom. But his sordid affair with Fisher opened his eyes to something else: Ford realized that being a Hollywood heartthrob had its perks. He became something of a lady's man—and that only led to trouble.

Harrison Ford FactsFlickr, Tom Simpson

21. He Fought Off Scandalous Rumors

Ford's good fortune may have benefitted his family financially, but his career led him down the path of betrayal. As countless rumors of his infidelity circulated in the media, it drove a wedge between Ford and the woman he'd vowed to love forever. Eventually, the distance between them became too much to bear. He and Marquardt decided to divorce—and that's when the gossip mill raged out of control.

Harrison Ford FactsShutterstock

22. His Wife Caught Him Redhanded

As with any celebrity divorce, the fans were abuzz with speculation. The most sordid rumor of all? Most believed that Marquardt had caught Ford redhanded, sleeping with another woman. In the years that followed, many assumed that this mystery woman was screenwriter Melissa Mathison, who became his second wife. But there's also another theory.

Harrison Ford FactsGetty Images

23. He Called It Quits

Considering Carrie Fisher's jaw-dropping memoir, there's a good chance that Marquardt had caught Ford canoodling with Fisher. But when his 15-year marriage finally came to a close, Ford didn't waste too much time. By 1983, he had a brand new wife—and it was not Carrie Fisher. Instead, he wed the prolific screenwriter Melissa Mathison, who is responsible for the famous line from ET, "ET phone home".

Yes. Harrison Ford's love life was a hot mess, but luckily, there was at least one thing going for him.

Harrison Ford factsGetty Images


24. He Forged A Close Friendship

While filming Star Wars, Harrison Ford also became close friends with Mark Hamill. Ford later said, "When I met Mark Hamill, I really learned how to be cool...He's just a really straightforward nice guy. He's really a sweet guy". But although Hamill has mostly positive things to say about the actor, he did reveal one very disturbing story from the set—and it speaks volumes about Ford's volatile nature.

Normal People Dated Celebrities FactsWikipedia

25. He Damaged The Millenium Falcon

According to Empire's interview with Mark Hamill in 2015, Harrison Ford damaged his character's spaceship—the Millenium Falcon. Shocked, Hamill listened as panicked crew members relayed an unsettling situation: "You gotta stop Harrison, he's sawing up the Falcon". In a fit of rage, Ford had taken a saw to the wooden prop.

Deadly Star Wars Weapons FactsPixabay

26. He Had Rage Issues

Although the reason for Ford's sudden freakout goes unexplained, Hamill managed to neutralize the whole debacle by making the angry actor laugh. He also revealed that Ford was so much more than the serious grump he became known as. In fact, Ford's bond with Hamill was so strong—he was able to open up to him in an incredibly unique way.

Harrison Ford FactsGetty Images

27. He Has A Hidden Sense Of Humor

Surprisingly, Harrison Ford has a hidden funny bone, and, according to Hamill, has a "wonderfully wacky sense of [humor]". While hanging out in their dressing rooms, the two buddies indulged in the bad pop songs they loved to listen to. If Hamill ever put on a banger, Ford would rush in and start dancing. Of course, if anybody else came knocking, he'd snap back into professional mode.

But as close as he became to his co-stars, Ford has notoriously had his gripes with the Star Wars franchise.

Harrison Ford FactsGetty Images

28. He Complained About Star Wars

Harrison Ford was not enthused with his character's ending. He'd been hoping that Han Solo would have a more dramatic ending in 1983's Return of the Jedi. In fact, he wanted his character killed off. He later said, "I thought the best utility of the character would be for him to sacrifice himself to a high ideal and give a little bottom, a little gravitas to the enterprise..".

Little did he know, he'd get his wish in the end.

Chewbacca FactsGetty Images

29. He Wanted Han Solo To Sacrifice Himself

Fast forward to 2015 and Ford got to see his original dream come true: At the end of The Force Awakens, Han is slain by his own son, Ben Solo. In response to the character's heartbreaking demise, he said, "I've been arguing for Han Solo to die for about 30 years..". Ultimately, Ford's role as the sassy smuggler cemented him as a Hollywood action hero.

As a result, following his time fighting for the galaxy, he stepped into the shoes of yet another iconic character.

Harrison Ford factsStar Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015), Lucasfilm


30. He Almost Didn't Get The Part

Is it even possible to envision any other actor playing Indiana Jones? Harrison Ford just wore that fedora so well. Surprisingly, however, Ford was definitely not the first choice for the iconic role. Again, George Lucas worried about casting Ford again. He told director Steven Spielberg, "Oh, Steven. He's been in two of my movies. I don't want him to be my Bobby De Niro," comparing the casting to Martin Scorsese's preference for Robert De Niro. But that wasn't all.

Harrison Ford factsRaiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Paramount Pictures


31. He Was "Perfect" For It

Both Lucas and Spielberg had been gunning for Tom Selleck to play the lead, but because of his role in Magnum PI, they had no choice but to go with their runner-up. Today, Lucas has finally come to his senses, stating that Harrison Ford really was "perfect" for the part all along. As it turns out, Ford became rather good at scooping up roles that were never intended for him in the first place—and, on one occasion, this sparked a rivalry.

Harrison Ford factsGetty Images


32. He Made An Enemy

According to the controversial actor Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford stole a role right out from under him: The part of Jack Ryan. Baldwin had already played the character in 1990's The Hunt for Red October—but when the sequel came along, he claims that Ford swooped in and negotiated a deal behind his back. But that's not the only shocking claim he made.


Beetlejuice factsGetty Images

33. He Sparked A Rivalry

Apparently, when the director told Harrison Ford that Alec Baldwin was still in the running, Ford had a fiery comeback. He told the director to forget about Baldwin (but in more explicit terms). Clearly, Baldwin still holds a grudge against Ford as he described him in his memoir: "Ford, in person, is a little man, short, scrawny, and wiry, whose soft voice sounds as if it’s coming from behind a door".

Ford had no qualms with getting into scrapes throughout his career—and the same can be said for his personal life.

Harrison Ford factsGetty Images


34. He Saves Lives

Harrison Ford was a talented pilot in Star Wars and a daredevil adventurer in Indiana Jones—but, even in the real world, the actor is a talented aviator. Throughout his life, he's bought many jets and has even used his prowess to save lives. Yes, Ford proved his heroism when two stranded hikers called for help. For the girls in trouble, what transpired seemed straight out of a movie.

Harrison Ford FactsShutterstock

35. He's A Real-Life Hero

In 2000, Sarah George and Megan Freeman were climbing Table Mountain when George fell suddenly ill. As a part-time resident of Jackson, Wyoming, Ford had volunteered his helicopter for rescue missions. When this particular distress call came in, the actor sprang into action. He flew to George and Freeman, landing his Bell 407 helicopter in a meadow.

When he stepped into the clearing—the girls, at first, had no clue that their rescuer was actually Harrison Ford.

Actor Harrison FordGetty Images


36. He Was Unrecognizable

In recalling the rescue, George later stated, "He was wearing a T-shirt and a cowboy hat. He didn't look like I'd ever seen him before". Well, turns out, that hat came in handy. Before Ford could get to the hospital, George used his hat as a puke bucket. In the aftermath of this surreal moment, she commented, "I can't believe I barfed in Harrison Ford's helicopter".

While this is a touching story of Ford's sensational piloting, that's not to say he hasn't had some seriously close calls.

Harrison Ford FactsNARA & DVIDS Public Domain Archive

37. He Almost Went Up In Flames

Harrison Ford certainly seeks his thrills in the skies and has risked his life multiple times in doing so. As recently as 2015, the veteran flyer crash-landed a WWII-era plane on a golf course after its engine suddenly lost power. This harrowing accident could have certainly spelled the end for the beloved actor if it had not been for his quick thinking and skill.

Ford managed to crash the plane as safely as possible, but his injuries were harrowing.

Plane Crashes factsGetty Images


38. He Sustained Serious Injuries

Yes, he'd survived and his vitals were good. But the actor was by no means in good shape. He had a shattered ankle and pelvis, a broken back, and a significant bump on the head. But this didn't discourage Ford from returning to his passion. After all, this wasn't the first time he'd gotten himself into a life-threatening ordeal, and it certainly would be his last.

Harrison Ford FactsFlickr, Gage Skidmore

39. He's Had Many Close Calls

Harrison Ford's record is far from squeaky clean, and in some instances, he's made some huge mistakes. Take the time he illicitly landed ahead of a Boeing 787, or the time he dangerously crossed a runway ahead of another plane. His daredevil ways have made headlines time and time again. However, Ford has proven that he takes risks beyond the cockpit.

He also gambles with matters of the heart.

Harrison Ford FactsGetty Images

40. He Saw Other Women

After wooing and dropping Carrie Fisher like a hot potato, Ford fell for screenwriter Mel Mathison. Together, they welcomed two children and managed to keep their marriage afloat for 18 years. But in the end, it was doomed. In 2001, Harrison Ford's womanizing reputation reared its head once again. Reports of him partying with other women ran rampant. But that wasn't all.

Harrison Ford FactsGetty Images

41. He Had A Messy Divorce

There were also reports that Harrison Ford wasn't even living with his wife anymore. Not long after, Mathison filed for divorce. But here's where things get messy. It took three years of negotiations before the couple landed on a settlement, and there's a chilling reason for that. You see, Ford hadn't bothered with a pre-nup—and he paid for that mistake big time.

Harrison Ford FactsShutterstock

42. His Wife Took As Much As She Could

According to reports, Mathison walked away from her cheating husband with somewhere between $85 million and $118 million, not to mention a share of Ford's royalties. This was a huge price to pay and a painful blow for Ford, but don't fear, the unlucky-in-love actor was about to find the woman of his dreams. While still legally married to Mathison, Harrison Ford attended the 2002 Golden Globes—and had his head turned right around.

Harrison Ford FactsGetty Images

43. He Fell In Love

Calista Flockhart, known for her show Ally McBeal, stole Harrison Ford's heart away unlike any other. The following year, he openly gushed about her to the press: "I’m in love. Romantic love is one of the most exciting and fulfilling kinds of love and I think there is a potential for it at any stage of your life". The happy couple waited until 2009 to tie the knot, and have been together ever since.

Although blissfully happy with Flockhart, however, Harrison Ford would never be able to outrun his past.

Harrison Ford FactsShutterstock

44. He Kept His Lips Sealed

When Harrison Ford reunited with Carrie Fisher on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it had been 30 years since they'd played Han Solo and Princess Leia. However, Ford staunchly refused to rehash their shared history and made no mention of it. However, in an interview, Fisher admits that he made only one reference to their affair...just one.

Harrison Ford FactsWikimedia Commons, Gage Skidmore

45. He Made One Exception

While filming, Fisher noticed that there were two actors flirting with one another. Like Ford and Fisher, there was a pretty significant age gap between them, so Fisher decided to point them out to her ex-lover. He simply replied, "Well, I hope it goes well for them". That was it. Ford seemed determined to bury all traces of their affair...Fisher, on the other hand, had a shocker in store for him.

Harrison Ford factsGetty Images


46. He Never Discussed His Past

Throughout her time with Ford, Fisher had been keeping intense diaries. She decided to use these entries as the basis for her shocking memoir, The Princess Diarist. While writing, Fisher reached out to Ford. She told him that she'd send the manuscript to him to read and if he disapproved of anything, she'd take it out. Her willingness to cooperate surprised him.

However, in the end, he did what he did best: He kept his lips sealed. Ford never reached out to Fisher about his opinion on her book.

Harrison Ford factsWikimedia Commons


47. He Was Still The Love Of Her Life

Perhaps the saddest part about Fisher's book was her admittance that she still loved Ford and that the book was also a sort of confession: "I don’t think, until now, he knew the intensity of my feelings". Sadly, Carrie Fisher suddenly passed the same year she published her book. Harrison Ford's response was heartbreaking.

After the devastating news broke, Ford made a statement: "Carrie was one-of-a-kind...brilliant, original. Funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life, bravely".

Harrison Ford factsShutterstock


48. He Didn't Hesitate

As we already know, Harrison Ford and recklessness seem to go hand in hand. In 2017, while cruising down a California highway, he witnessed a car roll off the highway. The resulting wreck was serious, but Ford immediately rushed to help out. He helped extract the driver from the totaled vehicle and watched over him until help arrived on the scene.

Of course, when it comes to accidents, Ford bears the scars of his own unfortunate twists of fate.

Harrison Ford factsAir Force One (1997), Columbia Pictures


49. He Got Into A Serious Car Accident

Harrison Ford is undoubtedly one of the finest-looking men in Hollywood. However, no amount of handsomeness can disguise the scar below his bottom lip. He got this gash all the way back in 1968 when he crashed his car: He'd been trying to put on a seatbelt while driving. On top of that, there was also the debacle with his teeth.

Harrison Ford FactsShutterstock

50. His Teeth Are Fake

Like most actors in Hollywood, Ford's teeth are mostly fake. However, this wasn't actually by choice. While working, he tripped over a prop firearm and smashed his teeth. He lost most of them and had them replaced. Basically, Harrison Ford has had more injuries than any other actor. For instance, while filming The Temple of Doom, he sustained a herniated disk after riding an elephant.

But perhaps one of his most severe injuries occurred on the set of The Force Awakens.

Harrison Ford factsIndiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Paramount Pictures


51. The Millenium Falcon Crushed Him

Harrison Ford almost kicked the bucket after being crushed by one of the Millenium Falcon's hydraulic doors. His injuries were severe. He broke his leg and required surgery to screw his fractured fibula and tibia together. He also had a "deep laceration" on his hand that required plastic surgery. He sued the pants off the studio for the incident and walked away victorious.

Most recently, Harrison Ford faced another injury—a damaged shoulder—on the set of Indiana Jones 5. The man really can't catch a break.

Harrison Ford FactsGetty Images

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16,

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