In Cannes, Harrison Ford bids farewell to Indiana Jones

CANNES, France — As the Cannes Film Festival audience stood in rapturous applause, a visibly shaken Harrison Ford stood on stage trying to keep his emotions in check.

The warmth of the audience and the music video that was playing shook Ford.

“They say that when you die, you see your life flash before your eyes,” he said.

If last year’s Cannes was partly defined by a tribute to “Top Gun Maverick” star Tom Cruise, this year’s is Ford’s. This time it was much more poignant. Ford, 80, is retiring Indiana Jones, saying goodbye to the iconic swashbuckling archaeologist complete with fedora, whip and modest snake phobia more than 40 years after his first debut.

It was a moving farewell – especially for Ford, who often shed tears along the way. Speaking to reporters on Friday, Ford was asked: Why are we giving up on Indy now?

“Isn’t it obvious?” he replied with a typically sheepish grin. “I need to sit down and rest for a while. I like to work. And I love this character. And I love what it has brought to my life. That’s all I can say.”

“Indiana Jones and the Wheel of Fortune,” the fifth Indiana Jones film, premiered Thursday night at Cannes, bringing an impressive coda to the franchise that began with 1981’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” While he also directed this film and the next three films. From the story of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ford’s final chapter was written by James Mangold, “Ford vs. Directed and co-written by filmmaker Ferrari.

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At the gala, which is one of the most sought-after tickets in Cannes this year, Ford was also awarded an honorary Palme d’Or. The next day, Ford was still struggling to articulate the experience of unveiling his final turn as Indiana Jones.

“It was indescribable. I can’t even tell you, said Ford. “It’s an extraordinary feeling to see a kind of relic of your life pass by.”

After the disappointment of 2008’s little-loved “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull,” the possibilities for a fifth film dragged on for years and went through many iterations. Ford said he would like to see another, less youthful version of Jones. “Song of Destiny” is set in the 1960s and finds you as a retired Indiana professor whose long-ago exploits don’t seem so special in the age of space exploration.

“I wanted to see the weight of life on it. I wanted to see him find it again and support it. And I wanted her to have a relationship that wasn’t a flirtatious movie relationship,” said Ford, who stars alongside Phoebe Waller-Bridge. “I wanted an equal relationship.”

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Ford is clearly very pleased with the film. He particularly praised his co-stars and Mangold, who he said did more than “fill the shoes that Steven left us.”

“It all came together to support me in my old age,” Ford said with a wry grin.

The film opens with an extended sequence set in the final days of World War II. In these scenes, Ford is aged to appear much younger. Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy was quick to state that the company will not be using an AI-created Ford in the future. Ford described the aging version’s employment as “skilled and diligent” — and it didn’t make him jealous.

“I don’t look back and say I wish I was that guy. I’m very happy with the age,” Ford said. He then added that it could be worse. “I could die.”

Ford is not retiring from acting. He currently has two TV series (“Shrinking,” “1923”) and said he remains committed to work.

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“I’ve been lucky enough to work with incredibly talented people and to be in this crowd of geniuses and not get my ass kicked,” Ford said. “And apparently I still have the opportunity to work, and that’s what I want. I need this in my life, this challenge.”

Ford, like Indiana, doesn’t leave without his hat. He kept one, Ford said, but appreciates the filmmaking experience more. “The stuff is great, but it’s not about the stuff.”

And Ford still manages to turn heads. One female reporter declared that the 80-year-old is “still hot” and asked Ford – who briefly appears shirtless in the film – how he stays fit. After some giggles and a few mentions of enthusiastic cycling, Ford responded with mock grandeur.

“I am blessed with this body,” she replied. “Thank you for noticing.”


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