The Spectacular Inspiration for Harrison Ford’s Greatest Roles

Celebrate Harrison Ford by diving deeper into the origins of his most famous roles. Featured movies include Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Blade Runner.

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Actor Harrison Ford has had a long and successful career, and his roles continue to be displayed on the big screen. His illustrious career is a distinguished one with roles that will forever define many genres of movies. His many faces include Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and Rick Deckard, just to name a few. Let’s talk about those roles and where they were inspired from!


But where did all these charismatic adventurers come from? Were they based on real people, or fictional characters found in era-defining Science Fiction novels? It turns out that Harrison Ford’s most famous roles stem from both history and literature, and the talented actor has displayed in his numerous films the ability to bring all of them to life.

The Novels and Comics Behind Star Wars

The mastermind behind the space opera franchise, George Lucas, has said very little about where exactly his ideas come from. However, based on the Science Fiction novels and comics he read while growing up and comparisons found in the films, we can guess at some of the origins.

One such source of inspiration may have been the 1937 novel Galactic Patrol by E.E. Smith. The story follows space warriors known as “Lensmen” who possess telepathic powers and are charged with protecting the galaxy from a large group of evil people who are attempting to build their “Grand Base.” Whether intentional or not, this sounds very similar to the Force-wielding Jedi who must rise up to defeat the evil Empire and prevent the Emperor from constructing the “Death Star,” a planet-killing superweapon.


Indiana Jones: Historical Figures and Facts

Director George Lucas and actor Harrison Ford partner once again for Indiana Jones, a series of movies about a fictional adventurer and his wild discoveries around the globe. Lucas has claimed that the character Indiana Jones is not based on a real person, but here are three historical figures who may have had at least a subconscious influence on the Indiana Jones franchise.


Percy Fawcett

Born in 1867 and active until the early twentieth century, Fawcett is the leading figure who many believe may have inspired the adventures of Indiana Jones. Fawcett was an officer in the British Army and later became a British Secret Service agent. He acted as a cartographer and explorer for the British government, and most of his explorations took place in the jungles of South America. Fawcett’s most famous discovery was in the Amazon Rainforest, where he claimed to have discovered a lost city he called “Z.”


Hiram Bingham III

The movie that most closely resembles Bingham’s life is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Set in Peru, Indy searches for the Crystal Skull of Akator. Bingham also conducted his adventures in Peru as an American historian and explorer. He discovered the ancient city of Machu Picchu, which was built by the Incan Empire in the fifteenth century. The numerous artifacts that Bingham took from Machu Picchu are now being returned to Peru.

Roy Chapman Andrews

The life of Andrews throughout the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century is incredibly similar to the character Indiana Jones. Andrews was also an academic stationed at a museum, and he engaged in numerous global adventures throughout his career. He was one of the top collectors for the American Museum of Natural History in New York due to the number of fossils and human remains he discovered in China, Mongolia, and central Asia. A very fitting description for Indy, Andrews wrote in 1935 that he was “born to be an explorer.”


The Novel that Inspired Blade Runner

Directed by Ridley Scott, the hit Science Fiction movie Blade Runner hit theaters in 1982. The film explicitly states that it is based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The author was shown an early version of the script and reportedly hated the reimagining of his world. However, when shown a few scenes from the pre-release and an edited version of the script, Dick stated, “It was my own interior world. They caught it perfectly.” Sadly, Dick passed away a few months before the movie was released.

The character who Harrison Ford plays in Blade Runner is Rick Deckard, an android hunter. The androids, called Replicants, appear and act very similar to humans, but some pose a dangerous threat to the residents of this dystopian future and must be destroyed by Deckard and other Blade Runners. There is a thought-provoking commentary on human empathy and artificial intelligence presented in both Blade Runner and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? that is often subtle but incredibly powerful. Ford’s character Deckard is at the forefront of these moral debates and wrestles with internal conflicts throughout the movie and novel.


And just in case you were wondering, androids apparently do not dream of electric sheep. This is a little disappointing, but Harrison Ford’s performance in Blade Runner and the other films discussed above is far from that.

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