Obviously, Harrison Ford’s resume does not lack of heroic characters. (The actor himself is even something of an action hero.) He turned characters like Han Solo and Indiana Jones into household names, in addition to starring in high-stakes thrillers like The Fugitive, Blade Runner, and the Jack Ryan movies. So it may surprise you to learn that he passed on an iconic role in Jurassic Park.
Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg
First collaborating with director Steven Spielberg in 1981 on Raiders of the Lost Ark, the two became so close that Harrison Ford stepped in to convince his then-girlfriend, Melissa Mathison, to write the script for Spielberg’s next project: E.T. And, over the next eight years, Ford would go on to star in the rest of the original Indiana Jones trilogy for Spielberg.
Naturally, it would seem, Ford was offered a role in Spielberg’s 1993 epic Jurassic Park. And he was: Spielberg initially envisioned that Ford would play the lead role of Dr. Alan Grant.
The bit of behind-the-scenes trivia was revealed at the 30th Anniversary screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 2011. Taking part in a public Q&A, Spielberg explained that he first realized Ford was perfect for the role of Indiana Jones after seeing his performance as Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. George Lucas, who — in addition to the entire Star Wars universe — created the Indiana Jones character, first balked at Spielberg’s suggestion. Lucas only saw Ford as Han Solo. But, Spielberg explained to the Q&A audience, he told Lucas: “But he’s an actor!”
Referencing that line later in the conversation, Ford said that “It’s an absolute delight to play [Indiana Jones] and to work with Steven again, who only hires me for Indiana Jones. I am an actor!”
But Spielberg was quick to respond, stating that he first offered Jurassic Park, specifically the role of Alan Grant, to Ford. However, Ford moved on quickly from the topic, leaving fans to wonder what really led to the decision…
Other big names who reportedly passed on the role of Alan Grant? William Hurt, Kurt Russell, Dylan McDermott, Tom Sizemore, Dennis Quaid, Kevin Costner, and Tim Robbins. Of course, it eventually went to Sam Neill.
Recently, Neill has discussed the legacy of the franchise — touching on his massive age gap with co-star Laura Dern.
The New ‘Jurassic World’
Though Harrison Ford’s motives remain a mystery, one thing is for certain: he missed out on a lucrative franchise. The recently revived Jurassic Park sequels have brought back the original stars, like Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum, to act alongside newer big names like Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.
The latest in the series, Jurassic World Dominion hits theaters June 9 and is being billed as an “epic conclusion of the Jurassic era.”