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In the comprehensive book “The Films of Harrison Ford,” authors Lee Pfeiffer, Michael Lewis, and Michael D. Lewis look back on “Air Force One” as containing some of the most physically demanding fight scenes of the actor’s long career — including a brawl with an actual wrestler.
Ford was 54 whilst filming “Air Force One,” performing amid concerns that he was getting too old to be throwing haymakers. But this is the same actor who played Indiana Jones, Han Solo, and Jack Ryan; he knew that nothing sells an action hero like a believable fight, and nothing sells a fight like a real hit.
Pfeiffer, Lewis, and Lewis describe a moment during the shooting of a fight sequence when Ford insisted that, to add “veracity to the experience,” Oldman should really punch him in the face (Ford would also tour the real Air Force One as prep for the project). Understandably, Oldman wasn’t cool with assaulting his co-star but eventually agreed for the sake of realism. The book quotes Ford’s thought process:
“I didn’t even think about the physicality of it. It’s all choreographed, all plotted out. The fun of it for me is it’s like an athletic endeavor. You choreograph it, you set your mind on what it is; you don’t want to hurt somebody, you want to be very sure of your moves. It’s a pleasure to perform those things for me, like playing tennis or ballet dancing.”
By the film’s end, Ford’s president would dispatch several terrorists (and one mole) and “Get off my plane!” would emerge as the film’s most oft-quoted line, sealing Marshall’s place as one of the coolest movie presidents of all time and further cementing Ford’s elevated position in the pantheon of spectacular leading men.