Ageing action hero and bona fide senior citizen, Harrison Ford, 65, is talking on his mobile phone outside the Beverly Hills Hotel where he is promoting the fourth installment of Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which opens in the UAE on Thursday. His call over, he re-enters the lobby, walking straight past the excited glances and elbow nudges of hotel patrons and staff.
Strangely, not a paparazzo is in sight on this sunny afternoon in Los Angeles, and the low-key actor walks briskly to his suite. Having endured the 'Harrison Ford experience', on many occasions, interviewing him over the years for many of his movies, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more reluctant interview subject than this famously gruff movie star. But it is in his contract that he must advertise his movie, a fact he sometimes reminds you of, so he gets on with the ugly business of self promotion.
They say you're the most bankable actor in Hollywood?
Yeah? Who's they?
Well, don't believe everything you hear.
What was the first day like on the set of Indiana Jones?
I don't remember what we did but I do remember they sent the costume over to my house from the archives… when I put it on, even at home, I felt the character. It's easy enough, you put on a jacket and a hat and carry a whip and a bag and the whole thing and… I felt it come back.
Shooting the fight scenes must be getting harder?
Well, it's not getting easier. It's all smoke and mirrors though, isn't it? It's one little piece at a time and it's like choreographing a dance. I enjoy it as part of the storytelling process but I also enjoy the physical work involved.
You're obviously very fit. Did you step up the workouts to do those physically gruelling scenes?
No, you have to stretch and put the pads in the right place. That's it. I'm not a great workout person. I do a little once in a while but it doesn't last very long. The only thing I do consistently is play tennis.
You seem to have found the fountain of youth. You look great and you're still doing action roles. Is it just good genes or do you work at your image?
I don't work very hard at it. I think I'm lucky genetically but these days there are 75-year olds running the marathon. Medicine has been good to all of us and we're able to maintain a degree of vitality in our later years. But I feel great.
How do you relax besides flying?
That's pretty much it. Travelling and hanging out with the children.
Can you travel without being hassled? Are there places you can go?
Yeah, up there (points to the sky)
But you have to land eventually.
There are places where you suffer less recognition than others.
Is one of the things that attracts you about flying is that you're anonymous?
Sure. When I'm flying I'm anonymous. I talk to the air controller and I'm, you know, November 35 Lima, not Harrison Ford. That's a nice respite from celebrity.
But you picked a profession that comes along with fame?
I didn't get into this business to be rich and famous – I thought that would be nice, but I wanted to be an actor, that's all.
You're very successful in both your professional and personal lives – how do you juggle them?
You don't juggle. They're part and parcel of the same thing. I can't separate. I'm lucky I have work. I wouldn't be as happy just staying at home and being an 'at home' father. I need a challenge. I need to exercise my craft's skills. And a family gives me a new opportunity to watch a seven-year-old, who is at that brilliantly sponge-like period, where children learn so quickly.
Have you ever thought about quitting the business?
Not really. That's one of the things I always thought was great when I started out was that given that there's a part there's no barrier to age, as long as you can walk and talk there's probably a utility for you somewhere.
PROFILE: Harrison Ford, Actor
Ford's big break came when he was a carpenter standing in to read for an absent actor on the first Star Wars film, and director Steven Spielberg decided he could act.
An Oscar nominee, he has acted in more than 30 films, which have grossed more than $6 billion (Dh22bn) totally worldwide, making him one of the most financially successful actors ever. On the new Indiana Jones movie, he, Spielberg and producer George Lucas are taking no fee, but will share out 87.5 per cent share of gross revenue.
Born on July 13, 1942, Ford grew up in Chicago. A college dropout, his early Hollywood contracts yielded only small roles and he turned to a career in carpentry. His personal fortune is estimated at $300 million.