Would he do the same today?
With a career spanning decades, Harrison Ford has a list of film credits that is every actor’s dream. Although he’s mostly known for playing Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise and the title character in Indiana Jones, the legendary star has a slew of movie roles that helped him cement his place as a Hollywood icon. This includes 1985’s Witness, for which he received his only Academy Award nomination, and popular 90’s movies like Air Force One. It was in one such ’90s movie, The Fugitive, that Ford took a big risk with his safety.
Deep into the story of The Fugitive, Harrison Ford’s character jumps from a dam to escape Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard (played by Tommy Lee Jones) who isn’t interested in the truth and only wants to capture Kimble. While no one actually leaped from the dam, (SlashFilm says it was a dummy that took the dive) the Star Wars alum did appear in the shot where his character looks over the edge to the water below. And that little stunt was wildly dangerous on its own – even though he was attached to a safety wire.
During the film’s theatrical run, the Los Angeles Times also examined how the dam jump scene was filmed. The behind-the-scenes look revealed that it was Harrison Ford who decided not to use a stunt double. Instead, he chose to stand just a few feet from the edge, looking right over the side of the dam. For the actual jump, six dummies were used in multiple takes. And since they cost about $12,000 each, the price tag on that iconic scene is $2 million.
Based on the 1960s television series of the same name, The Fugitive was released in 1993 and was met with critical and commercial success. Directed by Andrew Davis, the screenplay was written by David Twohy and Jeb Stuart from a story by Twohy. The plot focuses on Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) who is framed for his wife’s murder and unjustly sentenced to death. Following a bus crash, he escapes from the police and sets out to find his wife’s real killer and clear his name while being hunted by various law enforcement agencies.
The action thriller allowed Harrison Ford to flex his acting muscles as he stepped into the shoes of a character whose entire life had been ripped to pieces. He was able to effortlessly convey a sense of loss, hopelessness, and vulnerability to audiences. As such, The Fugitive is as captivating now as it was almost 30 years ago. And after all that time the jump scene still has everyone talking.
Despite the freezing temperatures, Harrison Ford also went into the water for two takes. At the time he had a few Navy SEALS on hand as advisers. But another law enforcement official on the set was more concerned, telling the Indiana Jones star that if a person really fell that far into 40-degree water they would have had a one-in-a-million chance of surviving. That’s why The Fugitive remains an early model of a film where an actor flirted with danger to ensure the believability of a great scene.