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Ford cracks whip again

Lifetime Achievement Award

Most thesps who’ve logged more than 40 years in the biz are content to leave the high-flying hijinks of their youth safely in the rearview mirror. Harrison Ford isn’t one of them, and he’s set to prove it this summer.

In May, after a 19-year lapse, the box office behemoth will reprise one of the roles that helped make him the most successful action star in film history: Indiana Jones.

“There’s something very particular about a guy who wears a leather jacket, wears a fedora and carries a whip,” Ford says. “It’s not like I was going to confuse him with Dr. Strangelove. I think I probably did more stunts than I had done in any of the first three films.”

Compared with most Hollywood superstars, Ford was a late bloomer. He moved to Los Angeles from his native Chicago in 1964, at the age of 22, and scraped for more than a decade playing bit parts on both the big and small screens while making ends meet as a carpenter. His big break came in 1977, when his friend George Lucas (whom he met when Lucas needed some cabinets built in his Hollywood home) hired him to play a wisecracking, reckless spaceship captain named Han Solo in a quirky sci-fi epic called “Star Wars.”

The rest is history. Ford went on to reprise his role as Solo for two blockbuster sequels. In doing so, he established himself as a bona fide ticket-seller capable of drawing audiences from every demographic imaginable. In 1981, he became the iconic face of yet another uber-franchise when Lucas (this time acting as producer) and director Steven Spielberg tapped him to play the swashbuckling archaeologist Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” a role he would reprise twice in the following eight years. Along the way, Ford turned in critically acclaimed performances in a diverse slate of pics, including “Blade Runner,” “Regarding Henry,” “Presumed Innocent,” “The Fugitive,” “Clear and Present Danger,” “Patriot Games” and “Witness,” for which he received an Academy Award nomination.

This year, in addition to his return in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” Ford will appear opposite Sean Penn, Ashley Judd and Ray Liotta in Wayne Kramer’s immigration drama “Crossing Over.” By the time 2008 comes to a close, there’s a chance he’ll have reclaimed his spot as the No. 1 domestic box office star of all time (he currently stands at No. 3, with $3 billion in B.O. receipts, just behind Eddie Murphy and Tom Hanks).

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