A number of things make the film adaptation of Ender’s Game so appealing, one of them being the cast. Its shining star is easily Harrison Ford. Some fans consider this to be his big return to science fiction. Not only is Ford a movie veteran but he plays a poignant role in this film that’s been years in the making.
Ford plays Colonel Graff, who recruits Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) into the military program that’s set to mold his mind into that of a combat leader. There’s an air of mystery and deceit that’s happening behind closed doors. If you’ve read the book you know exactly what we’re talking about. Graff is one of the most complex characters in the story. Ford discussed that and what keeps him interested in new films as he continues on in his career.
Harrison Ford: I actually read the script before I read the book. I thought it was an interesting subject that I haven’t seen in film. I saw an interesting character who was responsible for supporting some questions about responsibility and the military and all the relationships between young people and old people, a lot of things that intrigued me. When I met with the filmmakers, I had a sense that they were very ambitious and focused on making a film that I thought would be useful to a young audience. It was all very attractive.
Did you ever think you would return to space for another story? Also, the director stated that Asa was the only actor who could work with you as far as chemistry and dynamic.
Harrison Ford: It doesn’t matter to me whether or not I go to outer space or not. The job’s the same and I don’t have any sort of preferences, looking for a good story with a good character, whether Earthbound or not. I’ve heard him say that, now I understand. I think what he’s saying is that Asa has a kind of a strength and capacity and he was concerned about having… let’s face it, Asa was cast before I was and he was glad that he felt that Asa had the strength. I think that’s Gavin Hood‘s attempt to be flattering, more than anything else. But Asa is an amazing young person, a very accomplished actor. He’s got a very wonderful focus, capacity for this. He has a wonderful work ethic, and that combined with talent I think bodes well for his future.
I have the utmost respect for Sir Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis. They’re both tremendous actors and I was delighted to have the opportunity to work with them. Sir Ben is imaginative in the creation of his characters and I have no idea what to expect from him, his version of Mazer Rackham. I thought it was — I found it really intriguing and useful in telling the story and Viola is just a wonderful, visceral actor to work with. I enjoyed working with her also. I’m very pleased to be able to work with them.
Since the last time you shot Star Wars, what are the significant technological changes that have impacted you as a performer in filming?
Harrison Ford: Obviously, the techniques to create the visual elements have changed enormously. When they were making Star Wars, they were putting together spaceships out of plastic model kits of cars, boats, trains and gluing them all together, putting them on a stick and flying them past the camera, and it worked. It was fine. Add a little music and then you believe that big spaceship is coming over your head. Capacity to create effects on a computer has made the job both easier but it’s also introduced the complexity of a few more keystrokes, generates such a busy canvas that you lose human scale on an event. You just wad about the kinetics and the visualization, but you’re lost. You do often, in most cases I feel, lose touch with the human characters and what it is that they would feel. How they might feel, and I think that’s still the most important part. I think you have to be very careful with effects, that they don’t overpower the story, the visual at all.
You’ve built a career out of intriguing and engaging roles. Is it easy to find those parts or has it become harder? What’s interesting about playing a character in the fifth part of a series?
Harrison Ford: What I look for is identifying what the utility of the character is to the telling of the story overall. If I can identify that and read it in the script, then I’ve got a clear idea on whether or not I think the character’s worth playing. The creation of this character, is it fully realized? Is there more work to be done? An idea that makes it better? I just like the process of taking something written on a sheet of paper and giving it life, shape. I like the collaborative process of filmmaking, which is simply to say that I love my work and I wouldn’t continue to look for things that would have the potential to be engaging and successful. So whether it’s the first time that it’s been done or it’s the fifth time that it’s been done… what I always look for in the Indiana Jones films is that we advance the notion of the character together to the audience. The understanding of the character from each film to the other in an ambitious way. So Indiana Jones’ father would appear or Indiana Jones’ long lost love and the son he never knew would appear. All of that made it very much more interesting. So the potential to build on the audience’s knowledge of the characters, you can take advantage of that with your ambitions.
Ender’s Game opens in theaters Nov. 1.