Harrison Ford doesn’t have a social anxiety disorder, he just hates boring situations

Harrison Ford has a bunch of stuff out this year, from his AppleTV series, Shrinking, to the latest Indiana Jones movie, to 1923 with Helen Mirren. Ford is 80 years old and he’s entered a weirdly busy phase of his late-stage career. He covers the latest issue of the Hollywood Reporter, and it struck me that this is the first magazine profile I’ve read of his in years, perhaps even more than a decade. Harrison Ford still promotes his movies and goes on press junkets, but he rarely sits down with a magazine reporter and submits himself to one-on-one questioning like this. He seems annoyed at various points of the interview, but he’s also just… blunt, honest, direct. I like that. You can read the whole piece here. Some highlights:

Why he’s got so many projects out this year: “The simplest answer is probably the most truthful: After two years of sitting on my ass during COVID, and waiting quite a few years for Indiana Jones to start, I had not done as much work as I wanted to and I wanted to do different things. So [Shrinking] came along, and then, very quickly after that, 1923 came along. I took the job without a script on both of them, on faith that the people who created the projects were going to deliver me a good script. I really didn’t realize how much work 1923 was going to be, and I absolutely feel it’s worth it. I’m excited to do another season of both.

Whether he learned anything on Shrinking: “Would it be arrogant to say that I didn’t learn anything? Well, look, I really didn’t learn anything. It’s about being in the room where it happens and being appropriate to the circumstances and welcoming the opportunity to generate something with a little spontaneity and a measure of truth.

His view on therapy: “My opinion is not of the profession, it’s of the practitioner. There are all kinds of therapy. I’m sure many of them are useful to many people. I’m not anti-therapy for anybody — except for myself. I know who the f–k I am at this point.

His fans think he has social anxiety disorder. “Sh-t. That sounds like something a psychiatrist would say, not a casual observer. No. I don’t have a social anxiety disorder. I have an abhorrence of boring situations. I was shy when I first went onstage — I wasn’t shy, I was f–king terrified. My knees would shake so badly, you could see it from the back of the theater. But that’s not social anxiety. That’s being unfamiliar with the territory. I was able to talk myself through that and then enjoy the experience of being onstage and telling a story with collaborators.

How he gets through things he doesn’t want to do: “I just buckle down and do it. There are things I don’t love doing, but I want to be gracious about it, and I don’t want to shove it into somebody’s face that I don’t like doing it. They might be having a great time. Like you might be having a great time right now, or you could be having a terrible time and are preparing to write some nasty sh-t and I would never know. I’m just here to do my job, and my job, at the moment, is to help sell the product. This is what they really pay me for. The acting I’d do for free.

What changes he made after his nearly fatal plane crash in 2015: “I changed a lot of things in my life. My wife does not fly with me in vintage airplanes anymore — she will in others. I certainly don’t want to have to recover from that kind of accident again. It was really hard on my family and it was hard on me. I went back to flying. I know what happened. So that’s part of the reason [I went back]. There was a mechanical issue with the airplane I could not have known about or attended to in any way. So in the words of the great philosopher Jimmy Buffett: Sh-t happens.

He doesn’t have a vanity production company: “I don’t even know what a f–king producer does anymore. Or why we need 36 of them around.”

Whether he’s surprised to still be acting: “I think it’s the place I feel most useful. It’s what I know the most about. I lost my chops as a carpenter. I haven’t ever played fiddle. But I feel comfortable wrestling with how to make behavior out of words on a page and tell a story, and I’m still excited about the prospect of telling a story. I think this is a service occupation — telling stories. We need it. Whether it’s drawing on caves or religious tenets, we love telling stories…I like playing an old guy. If I wasn’t having a good time, I would stop doing it.

Whether he thinks he’ll ever get an Oscar, or whether he even cares: (Ford shakes his head.) If I did a movie that had Oscar ambition, that was an Oscar-type movie, then yeah — I’d want the film to be recognized for its quality. If I were given an Oscar, I would be grateful and appropriate. I’m trying to artfully skirt this — I don’t want to campaign for it.

[From THR]

I don’t think he’s being coy about anything – he would appreciate being part of an Oscar-baity film, but he has no interest in campaigning and he wouldn’t play that particular game. He never had ambitions beyond being a successful working actor and doing interesting projects. He knows who he is, he’s comfortable in his own skin, he’s a real movie star with mystery and charisma. I love the fact that he’s doing all of this stuff because he was bored to tears during the pandemic too.

Cover & IG courtesy of THR.

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27 Responses to “Harrison Ford doesn’t have a social anxiety disorder, he just hates boring situations”

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  1. Emmi says:

    It’s so interesting to me that apparently these days everything is a disorder. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good thing to be talking about mental health. But sometimes people are just shy. Or bored, like he said. I also HATE it when people want to diagnose me, a colleague recently asked if maybe I was depressed. As in, if I needed to see someone about it. No, girl. I’m just having a shitty time at work and it’s winter. My thyroid meds weren’t the right dose either so it was just a bit of a shitshow for a while. On the other hand, nobody wanted to talk to me about my father being ill and dying two years ago. Interesting.

    Sometimes people are just in a mood. Sad, pissed, bored. Sometimes we are just shy (I used to be). Sometimes someone’s just an a-hole, not a narcissist or a sociopath. Not everything is anxiety or depression. I wish we wouldn’t use these terms so wishy-washy, it doesn’t help those who actually need treatment.

    As for Harrison Ford, I love so many of his movies. Working Girl, The Fugitive, Witness … classics.

    • Arhus says:

      You said it! I read the ethicists column in nyt the other day where he basically said the same thing. Sometimes there are family quarrels and not everyone is a narcissist or emotionally abusive. People have emotions to work through. It’s not all a disorder.

    • Lucía says:

      Agreed to all of this. It’s called being a human being.

    • SophieJara says:

      Agree!! My mom’s boyfriend works with people who have autism (and other cognitive differences) and my mom wants to diagnose Every. Last. Awkward person as autistic. Like, maybe my math teacher just isn’t good at public speaking? Not everything is a disorder or a diagnosis!

    • Lucy says:

      This is something my mom and I have talked about. Her older brother has undiagnosed mental health issues (probably schizophrenia adjacent? Possibly heroin use related, but from 50+ years ago now). He doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with him, he lived with my grandparents from 1974 until they passed a few years ago.

      Anyway, I don’t think he could hold down a public facing job or anything, but he’s very self contained, quiet, and keeps to himself. She wishes he could just be seen as weird and quiet and other people accepted that’s just how he is. He was in a phd program when he became ill, and it’s just been more sad than anything that there wasn’t mental health support at the time that could have made his life so different.

      • Gelya says:

        I am so angry about everything is a mental health disorder. Not even ten years ago if you did have a mental health disorder you were labeled and taunted. Now it’s cool to be “mentally ill”.

        I have PTSD and GAD. Diagnosed in 1992. I had a lot of trauma and violence when I was younger. In my thirties I was diagnosed with depression. Was able to get help and tools back then.
        Covid years, lots of losses, essential working family during lockdown, trucking family, peri menopause anxiety and then losing my dog put me in another depression. I can’t get help because there is a therapist shortage here and everyone is running to therapists to get a cool diagnosis.

        I have a friend who has severe PTSD from the first Gulf War. His therapist just quit. He is on a waiting list for another therapist. It is a two year wait!

        Those of us who do need help are getting ignored so the “Karens” can be the cool kids in their class because they now have “social anxiety”. I am bitter and angry about it.

        Love Harrison! My husband is a cross between him and Tommy Lee Jones. Somebody tried to armchair diagnose my husband too. That didn’t go well at all for the person who tried to diagnose him, lol.

  2. bus says:

    Has he NOT won awards? I would think he’d get a lifetime achievement or some sort of recognition for his contributions to cinema at least. A question I’d like to ask him is: Are you the kind of actor that treats this like a job: you show up, you hit your lines, you deliver, you go home or are you the kind of actor that still has a love for the process … are you still growing? He seems like a mix of both.

    • OriginalLeigh says:

      I just looked it up. He has only been nominated for an Oscar once, for Witness in 1986. He’s a great actor but I don’t think he has done many of the standard Oscar bait films? I think of him as more of an action hero? Or maybe it’s because he refuses to campaign, as he said?

      Anyway, I’m really enjoying both him and Helen Mirren in 1923. They have really great chemistry and I don’t think we get see enough of that onscreen from older couples.

    • Eurydice says:

      He’s gotten lifetime achievement awards from the Golden Globes and American Film Institute and some other places. He’s been nominated for an Oscar and some Golden Globes and I think he’s gotten some sci-fi awards. I don’t know if he’s still growing at age 80, but I’d say he’s a working actor who is also a movie star. A star because his personality and presence are larger than the roles he plays, but also very diligent about his work.

    • Yep says:

      He was excellent in The Fugitive and genuinely creepy in Cowboys and Aliens and What Lies Beneathe. Excellent in The Mosquito Coast. Love watching Patriot Games (he’s the only Jack Ryan and I note the Jack Ryan books were basically commissioned by the C I A), Regarding Henry, Frantic, and Presumed Innocent as a kid. There’s no doubt he’s a better actor than a lot of people who have won Oscars.

      He doesn’t seem to play the HW game but is probably one of the few actors who’ve starred in numerous massive BO-hit tentpoles and franchises as well as critically acclaimed films.

  3. K8erade says:

    I had the pleasure of serving him a several times back in my LA waitressing days. Overall, I like him. Harrison Ford is not a bad guy but he is the kind of acerbic person that can really come off as aggressive to some people and I think that’s cost him friends in Hollywood over the years and made him less likely to win any kind of award. He was dressing down a producer over a director making some kind of assumption about something during one of the encounters. He wasn’t cruel he just was not going to do the thing that the director wanted and that producer had better step in if that project was to be saved.

    • Emily_C says:

      He pretty much singly-handedly saved The Empire Strikes Back by refusing to have his character say stupid things. We need more like him.

  4. TwinFalls says:

    I think he’s a guy who is really good at his job with no fucks to give and that rubs a lot of people the wrong way. I love how he geeks out on being a storyteller. That’s so cute coming from such a curmudgeon.

  5. Lens says:

    I’m a bit irritated by everyone suffering from “social anxiety disorder” now. It’s a a real thing but over (excused) for like he says, plain irritation, boredom, shyness. Which are all normal and not mental disorders. Let’s not over diagnose everyone.

  6. Michael says:

    He is my favorite Hollywood grump because it is not an act or affectation. He jsut is who he is for good or bad. But he has always been a legit movie star. Along with Tom Cruise, he is probably the largest male movie star of his generation. I consider Clint Eastwood to be a previous generation so I did not include him

  7. Jais says:

    He seems like a real one. Maybe he’s not idk? Grew up watching Star Wars and Indiana Jones with my dad so he kind of just reminds me of time with my dad. Don’t get me wrong. Theres so much problematic with IndyJ but I’ve got a soft spot for Harrison Ford. If you’ve never seen it, the interview with him, Ryan gosling and Allison Hammond is a good watch.

  8. Lucía says:

    I love him. This interview was amazing. He didn’t seem all that annoyed in this one IMO.

  9. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    He is who he is and that’s all that he is. God. He sounds like my husband lol.

  10. MrsBanjo says:

    I’m genuinely tired of armchair diagnoses, so I’m sure he’s particularly annoyed. Someone isn’t social in the ways people want and expect so they must have a disorder? It’s not only rude to the person they’re speaking of, it diminishes the voices of those of us with legitimate disorders trying to get society to be even slightly accessible and aware.

  11. kfk says:

    Harrison Ford was my first movie star crush, Han Solo and Indiana Jones, that smirky smile! I went to college with one of his sons from his first wife (we didn’t know each other) and my mom (rip) had the pleasure of staring at Harrison Ford for the entire ceremony. It was such a hot and boring graduation it always made me happy to know she enjoyed the view!

  12. EasternViolet says:

    I named my son Harrison, more as an homage to Han Solo and Indiana Jones (who were my superheros as a kid), as I can’t say I know much about Harrison Ford aside from his work. Still love this decision I made.

  13. Mtl.Ex.pat says:

    Years ago the husband and I were in Niagara-on-the-Lake to see some plays. One evening we went to a local pub where there was live music playing. We turned around and there was Harrison Ford standing behind us laughing and chatting with a group. The pub was packed and he was just hanging out having a good time. No one (while we were still there) bothered him or made a fuss and neither did he.

  14. ama1977 says:

    “Shrinking” is great and I’d highly recommend it. You can tell it comes from the Ted Lasso team in the best way, like you can tell Michael Schur is at the helm of all of his projects.

    I like what he says about his work, and I like that he is still doing interesting projects that he likes. I appreciate a person who embraces what they are and “stays in their lane” and I like that he is who he is regardless of circumstance, but is not overly mean or critical. Just blunt, like Kaiser said.

    Also, my dad is only a couple of years off from HF (he’s almost 76) and they look JUST LIKE each other, lol.

  15. Yep says:

    He’s very crusty but says whatever he wants. No PR and still respects his profession. So much better than those people going, “We’re just actors and read lines off the page.” He gives you good value in interviews; it’s not about marketing and he’s in a position where he can say whatever he likes. I saw an interview where he was explaining why he went into acting: his friends all got corporate or regular jobs and were resigned to playing golf by 65 in retirement and he wanted an exciting life that was different from that.

  16. Emily_C says:

    “I think this is a service occupation — telling stories. We need it.”

    This is important. It is so incredibly, centrally, phenomenally important. We are made of stories. Just, stories for the sake of stories.

  17. Andrea says:

    God I love him. If Indiana Jones dies in the next movie I’m going to cry buckets.

    Also I cannot believe he hasn’t won an Oscar. Give the man a lifetime achievement statue already!!

  18. Elle says:

    He sounds like a guy from his age group that is not very literate on mental health issues, so he obviously thinks that “he knows himself”, thus therapy is redundant. Also being terrified from a situation does describe anxiety, even if he justifies it due to the unknown territory. I am not saying that he has anxiety disorder, I am not diagnosing him. He does seem to consider himself chill and cool but at the end he is another boomer that discards mental health while being completely ignorant.