I was watching The Fugitive last week and it confirmed something that I’ve long suspected: Harrison Ford is the greatest Hand-Actor in the world. Ever.
Now I don’t think Ford is an actor of great range. His career can basically be broken down into two pre- and post-Fugitive eras: smirky and frowny. He does have a shedload of charisma though, and most of this can be found in his incredible hands. Observe:
1. Blade Runner
When Rutger Hauer breaks his fingers in the final chase scene, Ford practically invents a new thespian art. The only way Hauer can compete is by ramming a nail through his palm.
2. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
The whole swapping-the-idol thing at the beginning is a masterclass in defining a character with a few simple gestures. Even better is later on when he’s hiding on the ship and all you see are his hands appearing from that pipe, one finger at a time.
3. Temple Of Doom/Empire Strikes Back
The Harrison Ford school of piloting. If something isn’t working, just tap the dial a few times. Then panic.
4. Return Of The Jedi
Leia and Han reprise the whole “I love you/I know” exchange, only this time Ford uses his deft sleight-of-hand to cop a feel.
5. The Fugitive
The hands are particularly tense and shaky in this one, and there’s a few choice moments. Probably the best is when he throws his arm through a closing door and generously gives his right hand a few moments of solo screen time. It steals the show, but the Academy gave the best supporting Oscar to Tommy Lee Jones instead. Idiots.