One of the final roles to be cast was Harrison Ford’s character as Woodrow Dolarhydein Cowboys ans Alien, a Absolution’s cattle-rancher benefactor…and the only man keeping the decaying town and its inhabitants from financial ruin. A Civil War colonel whose bitterness calcified after the bloody battle at Antietam, Dolarhyde is a brutal and cold-hearted tyrant, and he has it out for the man he thinks stole his gold: Jake Lonergan. As Orci explains, “If it weren’t for the aliens, he’d be the bad guy in the film.”
Though Steven Spielberg and Ford have a long working relationship, it wasn’t a given that the man who is inextricably linked with Indiana Jones and Han Solo would come aboard the project. Director Jon Favreau discusses how he managed to find a distinct identity for the iconic actor: “For my generation, he’s like John Wayne. When people sit in their seats, they’re bringing everything that has come before to their experience of watching a movie. You can’t separate the actor from his work. I remember seeing Harrison for the first time as Bob Falfa in American Graffiti, and then of course in Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. He has a roguish quality. He’s always charming but with unpredictability; you never knew what he was going to do. There is a danger to him that we thought fit this role.”
While he was initially intrigued by the project, Ford was also skeptical. Favreau recalls: “He became interested after I showed him the concept art and explained that our approach was serious in tone; we weren’t going to play this as a joke. Our goal was to juxtapose these two classic forms to create something new and exciting.”
Admittedly, Ford’s primary interest in the film fell on the cowboy side of the story. He says: “What’s interesting is that these people back in 1875 in the Old West didn’t have our experience of space travel and planetary understanding. When the invasion happens, they have no context in which to understand what was occurring. The only possible context is the one that was given to them by the preacher in town. The aliens were possibly demons and remained demons throughout the telling of the story.”
A history buff, Ford shares a bit about how his character came to be: “The Western depends on the reality that it’s every man for himself. They were on the edge of the frontier and had to depend on their own resources. The strong will and the strong man did prevail. Dolarhyde is an old rancher, the richest guy in town who disdains the Indians. He’s a hard man who has a son who is not the best person…because of the advantages that his father accrued for him. The result of his dominant personality is expressed through this son who is a bully and a weak hand.”
Over the course of his career, Harrison Ford has become one of the most popularly acclaimed actors of our time. His body of work includes 43 feature films, 12 of which have exceeded $100 million each at the box office. Through his starring roles in such cinematic blockbusters as the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, The Fugitive, Air Force One and Patriot Game.
Between the Star Wars sequels The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), and the Indiana Jones sequels Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Ford starred in a number of other memorable films. In Blade Runner (1982), he delivered a gritty performance as a cop in a nihilistic future Los Angeles. He earned critical acclaim and an Oscar® nomination for his role as a cop on the lam, hiding out in Amish country in Witness (1985). Ford followed that with a daring portrayal of an eccentric, idealistic inventor in The Mosquito Coast (1986). He went on to play a Hitchcockian protagonist in Frantic (1988), before showing his flair for romantic comedy in Working Girl (1988).
He has also played a lawyer accused of murder, in Presumed Innocent (1990); an arrogant yuppie transformed by a mugger’s bullet, in Regarding Henry (1991); the heroic ex-CIA agent Jack Ryan, in Patriot Games (1992) and in Clear and Present Danger (1994); a doctor wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, in The Fugitive (1993); a deeply committed New York City cop, in The Devil’s Own (1997); and President James Marshall, in Air Force One (1997). He also starred in the remake of Sabrina (1995), in the role originated by Humphrey Bogart.
In 2007, he completed filming the feature Crossing Over as well as narrating the documentary Dalai Lama Renaissance. The year 2008 saw the release of the much anticipated Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Last year, he was seen in Extraordinary Measures, with Brendan Fraser, and Morning Glory, with Diane Keaton and Rachel McAdams.
“Cowboys and Aliens” is released and distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corp.