Harrison Ford shows his funny side for a change, co-starring with Josh Hartnett as LA police detectives in a new action-comedy. Alan Silverman has a look at Hollywood Homicide.
Harrison Ford is Joe Gavilan, veteran homicide detective working out of the LAPD Hollywood division hence the title Hollywood Homicide. Gavilan is also a part-time real estate agent desperately trying to find a buyer for an overpriced property in the aging Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Mount Olympus; and he's trying to get some romance in his life with a new girlfriend; and he's also solving crimes with his young, new-age partner K.C., played by Josh Hartnett.
Ford has played police officers before - for instance, John Book in the 1985 thriller Witness, but he says he found a lot to identify with in Joe Gavilan.
"Yes, he's like a lot of guys I know. He's like a lot of cops I know. He's quite a bit like I am. I thought it was a fun character," Ford says. " This guy is under a lot of pressure. He's got everything he owns tied up in this house on Mount Olympus. He's being investigated by the ex-boyfriend of his new girlfriend. Everything is crumbling, which is good basis for comedy."
Co-writer Robert Souza, a retired LAPD homicide detective, who based the story on some of his real experiences, says many films about police are unrealistic to the real cops because they lack humor.
"What's always interested me is the 'gallows humor' that is part of police work," says Souza. " Even though you're handling very dramatic, horrendous crimes, there is still a certain amount of humor between you and your partner or things that happen in the squad room. We tried to capture the lightness, switching back and forth from heavy drama to the light side and Harrison and Josh brought that to the movie, too."
Hartnett, one of Hollywood's up and coming young stars, admits he was a bit star-struck at first, at the prospect of working opposite an actor he grew up watching in one adventure film after another:
"I couldn't speak," recalls Hartnett. " I was born right after the first Star Wars came out. I brought my dad and my future step-mom to Return Of The Jedi on one of their first dates. Indiana Jones was obviously iconic and a big part of a 10-year-old's life. To meet Harrison like that . . . I could barely speak when I met him; but then over the course of it I found out what a jerk he is and we started to get along really well."
The good-natured ribbing goes both ways, especially when Ford hears comparisons between his young co-star and himself at that age.
"I wasn't even born yet when I was at his age," he says. " He's 23-years-old and I didn't make a living in this business until I was 35. He's great. We had a good time working together. He's really tall. I'm sorry, I meant talented. He's really talented. He is really tall. He's cute. Girls like him. He's a pain."
It is an 'action-comedy' and at 60 (he turns 61 in July), Ford says he still enjoys doing as he puts it the 'running, jumping and falling down' that all help him create a realistic character:
"When I'm making a movie I don't have the kind of vanity that wants to create a perfect character. I think the flaws are interesting," explains Ford. " One of the reasons I like to do physical acting is because I want people to feel the pain. You can't feel the pain if you're on the back of a stunt man's head. I want them to see the fear. I want the characters that I play to be afraid of what's happening so that when they overcome it there's something to celebrate."
Hollywood Homicide features Isaiah Washington as a rap music executive at the center of a murder investigation. Real-life rappers Kurupt and Master P have roles and there are cameo appearances by soul music legends Smokey Robinson and Gladys Knight. Also in the cast: Lena Olin, Bruce Greenwood and Martin Landau. Hollywood Homicide is directed and co-written by Ron Shelton.