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Harrison Ford Was Older Than You Thought When He Filmed Star Wars

One thing that the Star Wars sequels make strikingly apparent is the amount of time which passed since the original trilogy released in 1977. For the first time, many fans saw their favorite Star Wars characters in their later years. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but it did cause some level of concern for the filmmakers.

In an interview with The New York Times, Mark Hamill expressed fears about the issue. "No one wants to see the 50-, 60-, 70-year old versions of us, running around, bumping heads on the Death Star. It's sad."

Hamill was partially right, fans would offer their fair share of criticism because of its older characters. However, their complaints largely had nothing to do with the characters' age, but their representation. They felt the sequels had mistreated the classic characters that they had known for so long.

It seems Hamill was alone in thinking they were too old to resume their roles. In fact, he was surprised when Hamill heard Harrison Ford agreed to doing the sequels. He expected Ford was "too old and too rich and too cranky" to take up the offer. Yet Ford accepted, and Hamill felt obligated to follow suit. This should be no surprise, however. Even though Ford is the oldest of the main trio by a wide margin, he never felt too old to play Han Solo.

Harrison Ford was the oldest member of the main cast in Star Wars

According to Hello!, Harrison Ford didn't become Han Solo until he was 35. For contrast, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher were each 26 and 21 when they assumed the roles of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia (via ASmoothSea). At almost 10 years older than his co-stars, Ford was the outlier of the group.

He was also the only member of the trio who got his role by accident. Though Ford had been an actor since he was 21, he had never really taken off. He signed a contract earning him $150 a week acting in small roles for movies and TV. He also had a breakout role in the film American Graffiti. Besides that, Ford mostly made his living working as a carpenter on movie sets. He got the opportunity to play Han Solo when a studio executive randomly asked him to participate during a line-reading. That one interaction launched Ford's career. He would become a household name, and starred in popular films such as Indiana Jones and Blade Runner.

Harrison Ford's seemed fated for the role that would eventually launch his career

The story of how Harrison Ford's career popped off teaches an important lesson: success can happen at any time. You never know when an action will have a butterfly effect that changes your life forever. It's what happened for Harrison Ford and it's what happened to Star Wars.

Like Ford, the story of Star Wars' success was almost random. The stars had to align just perfectly for it to become an international phenomena, which brings us back to the sequels and Mark Hamill.

"I was really scared [by the idea of the sequels]," said Hamill to New York Times. "I thought, 'why mess with it?' The idea of catching lightning in a bottle twice was ridiculously remote."

It's hard not to see Hamill's point. In many ways, the original Star Wars films were too accidental to be replicated well. Both George Lucas' prequel trilogy and Disney's sequel trilogy were heavily criticized projects. Furthermore, much of the most popular expanded Star Wars fiction deliberately breaks the original trilogy's formula.

Whether or not Star Wars' or Harrison Ford's successes were random is mostly up to individual interpretation. It could be argued that both Lucasfilms and Ford worked hard to establish their presences in the film industry. Chalking it all up to chance sells their efforts short. That being said, Ford's story proves chance will always be an element. The degree to which it influences events is a matter of perspective.