We always hope that — if we run into a celebrity in the wild — he or she meets the grand expectations we’ve built up in our heads. We always read silly columns that promise “they’re just like us!” but sometimes we still get a sense that Hollywood has made their heads, not to mention their egos, swell up past the point of no return. Some celebs, though, truly exceed expectations.
Harrison Ford is that whole other breed of celebrity. Known for his portrayals of bonafide action heroes, the Hollywood icon proved over the years there’s more to him than what meets the eye. In fact, when you dig into his life, he’s a lot closer to Indiana Jones than you might realize!
Harrison Ford is basically the grandfather of action films, as his acting career has spanned almost five decades — and counting! In that time, he’s portrayed gallant characters whose names are widely recognized in pop culture to this day.
Still, he didn’t start out as a hero. Ford earned his first acting role at 24 years old, playing a bellhop in the 1966 film, Dead Heat On A Merry Go-Round. Though the role was uncredited, it was the first stepping stone to the wildly successful career.
Eight years later in 1973, he landed a role as Bob Falfa in the George Lucas film American Graffiti. Apparently he made a impression on the up-and-coming director, as Lucas soon fingered Ford for another project.
That project, of course, was Star Wars. Playing the smarmy, handsome smuggler named Han Solo, Ford cemented himself as the quintessential action star. In the upcoming years, he’d go on to play more action heroes.
Ford cemented himself as the king of the franchises, assuming the leads in Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Blade Runner. And while he earned fame and fortune, it’s safe to say the stereotypical, entitled aspects of mega-stardom never went to his head.
See, it turns out that Ford has taken his hero status past the silver screen, proving his willingness to be a good Samaritan. They say you shouldn’t take work home with you, but Harrison Ford doesn’t know the meaning of that.
While he doesn’t travel through galaxies at light speed, Ford earned his pilot’s license two decades ago and has logged over 5,000 hours of flight time. And like his film characters would, he puts that ability to use for the benefit of others.
Back in 2000, for instance, two lost Wyoming hikers suffering from dehydration were saved from a grim fate when Ford arrived in his Bell 407 helicopter. And believe it or not, this might have been one of his smaller heroic gestures.
Let’s take things back to 2001, when a curious little Boy Scout veered off the path taken by the rest of his troop in a forest near Yellowstone National Park. This lonesome Boy Scout was lost in the woods for, roughly, a staggering 19 hours.
The then 13-year-old Boy Scout, Cody Clawson, was missing overnight and, because of horrid freezing, snow weather, slept in a cave. By this point, he was looking to his religious beliefs for comfort.
Of course, a huge search and rescue team, which included helicopters, desperately searched for the young scout from the skies. By now, you can probably guess who piloted one of those helicopters.
Indiana Jones himself lived part-time in Jackson, Wyoming. As a part of the search-and-rescue mission, Ford had circled above the forest in his chopper, seeking out the lost teen with a bird’s-eye view.
Meanwhile, after a frightful night in a cave with little rest, young Cody had an “epiphany” regarding his next move. Braving the cold, he started walking through the woods for miles before he finally heard search planes.
When he looked above to find Harrison Ford’s helicopter grazing the clouds, Cody attempted to reflect sunlight off of his shiny brass buckle (a trick he learned from Boy Scout training) to get the airborne search party’s attention.
To Cody’s surprise, the helicopter team noticed the disoriented teen, and then proceeded to safely land on the peak of a nearby hill. But the biggest surprise for Cody was yet to come.
When a relieved Cody Clawson was alerted by a search party member as to who the helicopter pilot was, he thought he was hallucinating, which wouldn’t have been so weird considering the jarring scenario.
When Cody was brought into the helicopter, he was astonished to hear the simple two words, “good morning,” come from the Harrison Ford’s mouth. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, Han Solo has just rescued me, how cool is that,'” Cody had said according to Daily Mail.
Upon safely taking him to a provisional search and rescue headquarters, Ford jokingly said to the teen “Boy, you sure must have earned a merit badge for this one.” When a starstruck Cody notified Ford that he had already earned that badge the previous summer, the heroic Han Solo couldn’t help but laugh.
Later, Cody, who is married with a child of his own, recalled how the experience was eye-opening to the reality of celebrity stereotypes. “What he did gave me a different perspective on stars,” he said. “They sometimes get portrayed as snobby people, but there really is good, generous people out there.”
And Cody’s words couldn’t have been more true, as over the next few years, Ford played the hero more than once. In 2010, for instance, Ford took his plane down to Haiti for the most incredible reason.
After Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, which reached a jolting 7.0 on the Richter scale, Ford flew his plane to Haiti in order to assist with Operation Smile’s Relief effort, which offered reconstructive surgeries at no cost, at the Love a Child Health Centre.
Over the course of two days, Ford had transported 20 medical volunteers, as well as necessary medical supplies. Just a few years later, he found himself leading a heroic effort once again.
In November of 2017, Ford helped save a woman whose car flipped off the road in San Paulo, California. After watching her lose control of her vehicle, Ford rushed to the scene and proceeded to pull the woman out of the mangled vehicle to safety while waiting for emergency responders.
It’s safe to say that Harrison Ford definitely repels the traditional snobby, self-absorbed celebrity stereotype that haunts most of LA. Perhaps Han Solo and Indiana Jones could take a few notes from the epic Ford himself.
But before Harrison Ford was playing Hollywood’s iconic heroes, those roles were filled by the legendary Clint Eastwood. Were the two to sit down and talk, Ford would likely be impressed by the heroism Eastwood has displayed in his own life.
It was 1958 when a furrow-browed young man sauntered onto television screens in his very first role. Clint Eastwood made his debut count, as Rowdy Yates on the Western Rawhide. Of course, countless unforgettable performances followed.
Over the next four decades, Clint built a reputation as the toughest, grittiest son-of-a-gun working in Hollywood. Whether he was slingin’ guns in Westerns or crime thrillers, Clint showed no fear.
In the second half of his career, Clint shifted his focus from acting as the main macho hero to controlling the storytelling of gutsy tales from the director’s chair.
Clint’s directorial catalog includes a wide array of films, but where he really shined was in the telling of tales booming with strength and heroism, like in Million Dollar Baby and American Sniper.
But it was while promoting another one of his directorial features, Sully, that Clint shared an adrenaline-pumping epic ripped from his own life that had fans’ jaws on the floor. The story unfolded over 60 years earlier…
Prior to his foray into showbiz, Clint proved his pluck by enlisting in the U.S. Army. The country was at war with Korea, and, as a fresh high school graduate, Clint was ready for action.
Ultimately, however, Clint didn’t see combat. He landed at Fort Ord, a former army base on the coast of California. When things on the base were slow, Clint earned spare money as a lifeguard.
One day, a bored Clint and his fellow soldier, a pilot, went for a joyride…in the sky. Tucked into a World War II bomber plane, they soared through the air, carefree. But then the weather changed…
Very quickly the weather began to shift, and the pilot gravely told Clint the seriousness of their situation: they were likely going down, and their quick jaunt was in jeopardy of turning fatal.
The only way forward was to perform an emergency crash landing. Thousands of feet in the air, Clint looked from left to right, swallowing the realization they’d need to land in the waters of the Pacific. This punk was not feeling lucky.
Clint’s stomach lurch. He braced for impact while his pilot friend maneuvered the plane downward. Moments later, there was an earsplitting “SPLASH!” as the aircraft smashed into the sea.
“It was stormy,” Clint reminded readers of The Daily Telegraph, “and we went down off of Point Reyes, California, in the Pacific.” In those tumultuous waters, his lifeguard training was put to the test as he leaped from the aircraft into the water.
Treading water, Clint could see the shoreline, but he estimated it would take hours to reach land. “I found myself swimming a few miles towards the shore,” Clint explained.
British Red Cross / Twitter
Tired, bogged down by the weight of waterlogged clothes, Clint’s mind repeated the worst. “I remember thinking, ‘Well, 21 is not as long as a person wants to live.” Luckily — for us and for him — his life didn’t end in the moonlit Pacific.
“It was quite a way into nightfall before we reached [the coast],” Clint recalled. But nevertheless, their limbs aching, their chests heaving, he felt his fingers brush the rocky edge of the bank of a relay tower in Bolinas.
He used his last bit of strength to pull himself up a rocky cliff face out of the water. In the 60 years since the incident, Clint still remembered the details of his brush with death.
After his narrow escape, it was no wonder Clint was drawn to telling the story of pilot Chelsey Sullenberger’s epic landing of flight 1549 on the Hudson River.
“Sully” as he was known, after colliding with a flock of bird and losing engine power, chose his safest option. Clint agreed, “I suppose in a similar situation as the pilot, I would have chanced a water landing rather than go someplace where there’s no runway.”
Taste of Cinema
Clint went on to say, “Anybody who keeps their wits about them when things are going wrong, who can negotiate problems without panicking, is someone of superior character and interesting to watch on film.”
Going by his own words, Clint’s own plane crash definitely meets the filmable criteria! In his twilight years, his life only became even more interesting. This, apparently, is a common trend among Hollywood’s biggest Western stars.
With his bushy mustache and a voice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Sam Elliott is a Hollywood star like no other. But for all the appearances he’s made on the big screen, he’s surprisingly tight-lipped about his filmworthy personal journey.
Despite being born in California, Sam always identified with Texas, where his family lived for generations. Perhaps foreshadowing his eventual proclivity for Western roles, he even had an ancestor who fought at the Battle of the Alamo.
As a boy, Sam harbored dreams of making it big in show business, though he knew his salt-of-the-earth parents wouldn’t approve. Once he reached his college years, however, Sam decided to go for it.
He won the lead in a production of Guys and Dolls, which earned him rave reviews in the local press. Sam hoped this would legitimize his career aspirations in the eyes of his family. Still, his father told him that acting was nothing but a dead end.
Sadly, Sam’s father never believed in his dream. He died of a sudden heart attack in 1966, just as Sam was about to wrap up his collegiate studies. The tragedy made the aspiring actor reconsider his entire life plan.
While he would always crave closure with his family, Sam ultimately decided to chase his dream and move to Los Angeles. He later reflected, “I think on some levels that was either hard on me or made me more focused in my resolve to have a career.”
Job offers didn’t immediately pop up for Sam. He worked in construction just to pay the bills, but this gig proved more fruitful than he expected. Sam got a job working on the house of an assistant director, who introduced him to contacts at Universal Pictures.
He made his first feature film appearance in 1969’s classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, though it was just a bit part. He admired the female lead, Katherine Ross, from afar. However, the two of them never met during that production.
20th Century Fox
Subsequently, Sam racked up a number of TV credits, and this time — thankfully — all his characters had names. He became a familiar face to audiences with appearances in shows like Mission: Impossible. Still, he was hungry for something bigger.
Fighting hard for a lead film role, Elliot finally got his breakthrough in the 1976 drama Lifeguard. It didn’t make any critics’ all-time-greats list, but it did raise Sam’s status. It also brought an old figure back into his life.
During the production of 1978’s The Legacy, Sam came full circle with Katherine Ross. Though they never shared a scene on Butch Cassidy, this film had them spending every waking moment together. Their chemistry wasn’t only for the cameras either.
Sam and Katherine grappled with romantic feelings for each other, but it was complicated. She was married to an assistant director named Gaetano Lisi, after all. Katherine would have to make a choice.
Fortunately for Sam, Katherine was willing to risk it all. She divorced Gaetano in 1979, right as the two of them entered a relationship. They tied the knot in 1984. It was Sam’s first marriage, but Katherine’s fifth!
Unlike Katherine’s past unions, however, this marriage was built to last. That year, they also welcomed a daughter, Cleo Rose, into the world. Meanwhile, Sam’s career really started to heat up.
Going toe-to-toe with Cher, Sam earned rave reviews for his turn as a biker with a heart of gold in Mask. He showed that he really had range, yet found himself pigeonholed as certain characters throughout the ’80s and ’90s.
Maybe it was just because he was a natural cowboy, but Sam found his way into an overwhelming amount of Westerns. Many were huge hits like Tombstone, but Sam still felt frustrated by the lack of originality in the Hollywood machine.
Was this really what he risked his father’s disapproval for, Sam wondered. He made an effort to go more against type, or at least get involved in more offbeat projects. Film fans will always love him, for example, for his part in the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski.
But overall, Sam realized his commitment to be himself — and to his beloved stache — was costing him big-time roles. He drew praise for his part as General Thunderbolt Ross in Hulk, for instance, but later got cut out of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.
Now on the wrong side of 70, Elliott couldn’t help but feel that he still had more to offer. He thought his talents were fresher than ever, though showbiz wasn’t known for its friendliness toward aging actors. Still, his renaissance was just around the corner.
In 2018, Elliott appeared with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in the third-time remake A Star Is Born. Critics and audiences alike adored the film, and Sam ended up receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Although he didn’t get the little gold statue, in the end, Sam still felt as blessed as ever. He had a loving wife, a wonderful daughter, and the acclaim to go in any direction he wanted for the rest of his career.
Sam Elliott had some great behind-the-scenes stories from A Star Is Born, too. Bradley Cooper’s country twang was convincing because he studied Sam’s voice and accent way before he asked him to portray his older brother in the film.
It’s no wonder Elliot was drawn to A Star is Born — there just seemed to be a bit of magic in Cooper’s creation. For instance, the love scenes between Jackson and Ally are cute, but the most adorable thing about A Star Is Born might be Charlie, the pup they adopt together. Charlie is actually Bradley’s real dog!
Just like Ally, Lady Gaga felt pressured to become more of a pretty pop icon than she originally wanted. She broke through with singles like “Just Dance,” but her abilities are much wider than just catchy pop songs. Of course, now she can do what she wants!
As co-writer, director, producer, and lead actor, Bradley surely got to have a say when it came to casting. He hired several of his friends, including comedian Dave Chappelle. While he doesn’t joke around that much, he still provides comic relief.
Were you crying along with Ally’s tribute to her husband at the end of the film? Gaga had just learned that her longtime friend had died of cancer, so she channeled all her emotion into the scene. The tears you see are real.
There was almost no CGI used in the filming of A Star Is Born, so the crowds at all Ally’s and Jackson’s concerts are real. They actually performed the songs live at several festivals to get the shots, and the music-loving crowd definitely didn’t mind!
As a small shoutout to the 1976 version of the movie, Jackson traces Ally’s nose just like Kris Kristofferson did with Barbra Streisand. He admires her nose, about which Ally (and Gaga, and Streisand) used to feel pretty insecure. Can you handle the intimacy?
Bradley Cooper is definitely a fan of foreshadowing. The first example happens when Ally sings to Jackson in the parking lot: she is filmed from a low angle, looking strong, while he is looking up at her in admiration, signifying her future stardom.
If you wondered why the scene where Jackson meets Ally is set in a drag bar, you weren’t the only one. Gaga has received tremendous support from the LGBT+ community throughout her career, so the location was set to honor her queer fans.
We all knew Lady Gaga is a musical powerhouse, but who knew Bradley Cooper was so multi-talented as well!? He worked incredibly hard to sharpen his vocal cords, and the two made a smashing hit soundtrack that we can’t stop listening to.
As a tiny tribute to former Star Is Born star, Judy Garland, Ally hums “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” which Judy sings in The Wizard Of Oz. It also signifies Ally’s hopes and dreams despite her manager trying to bring her down.
Not only has Gaga gone through similar situations as Ally, Bradley knew all too well what it was like to be in Jackson’s shoes. He struggled with substance addiction and thoughts of suicide for years. Luckily he has been clean for nearly 15 years!
“Hey!” “What?” “I just wanted to take another look at you.” The most iconic line of the movie that melted our hearts is wonderfully delivered, but not originally written! It appears in every version of the film, and it’s magical each time around.
Why “La Vie En Rose”? A lot of viewers were unable to understand Ally’s French performance that makes Jackson swoon, but it’s a very significant song. Lady Gaga sang it during the first time Bradley ever saw her sing live, and that’s when he knew he needed to cast her.
Does Jackson Maine remind you of anyone? Since Bradley is not a rockstar himself, he based his character on The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. He also followed Eddie Vedder on tour for a bit to add that to the mix.
Perhaps the sweetest scene between our star-crossed lovers is when Ally applies makeup to Jackson in the tub. There is a tub scene in the Barbra Streisand version, as well as a little man-makeover. Of course, both leads can rock a bare face as well as some good liner.
In case you missed it, there is a big foreshadowing moment early in the movie. Before Jackson meets Ally, he sees a billboard for suicide prevention, complete with nooses and all. He was depressed before she came into his life, and their love was only a temporary relief.
On a happier note, Bradley Cooper’s real-life hearing doctor got the opportunity of a lifetime when he was asked to basically play himself in the movie. It was a quick little scene, but this doc surely never thought he’d make it to the big screen!
None of the drag queens’ lines were scripted. During the scene where Jackson goes backstage to talk to Ally, he asked the real queens to just be themselves, and act as they usually would. So, every joke they make at Jackson’s expense is their true sense of humor!
The wedding scene touched all of our hearts, but did you get a good look at Ally’s dress? There’s a reason why it’s so ’70s style, unlike the rest of her wardrobe. The dress is in honor of Barbra Streisand’s personal clothes, which were used for her version of the film.