×

Ed Harris Receives Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

No, Ed Harris, did not throw a chair at Marcia Gay Harden while filming “Pollock,” he wants you to know.

“I didn’t throw it at her,” he says of the Hollywood urban myth. “I smashed it on the ground. She wasn’t quite getting to the point that she needed to and we had a really good relationship and it just got her adrenaline flowing and helped her out a little bit.”

Whether it was the flying furniture that prodded her along or his directorial savvy, Harris’ instinct was spot-on. The actor-cum-helmer of the 2000 biopic helped to propel Harden toward an Oscar for her supporting role as Lee Krasner, the acclaimed painter and long-suffering wife of abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock, who tragically died in a drunken driving accident. Harris, who will receive his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 13, the same day his latest film “Run All Night” bows on the big screen, threw himself into the role, even building an art studio so that he could “spread the canvas out and work on the floor and get a feel for what Mr. Pollock was up to. Whether he was splattering with the brush or the syringe or with a piece of wood right out of the can the guy knew what he was doing. He had immaculate control.”

Known for his trademark intensity in such films as “Jacknife,” in which he played a depressed, alcoholic Vietnam vet — “I really felt very strongly about that film” — the Great Depression drama “Places in the Heart,” the Oscar-winning “A Beautiful Mind” and James Foley’s incisive adaptation of David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross,” along with myriad theatrical roles on and Off Broadway, Harris’ reputation as a serious actor is certainly not without merit.

“The first time I saw him on stage — it was a Sam Shepard play called ‘Cowboy Mouth’ — I just realized, wow, everything that everyone had been saying about this guy is true,” says Amy Madigan, Harris’ wife and co-star in “Places in the Heart.” “There was immediacy to his performance. He had a truth-telling barometer that was at play at all times. His personality was very assured and comfortable and he had a powerful presence. But that’s not going to work unless you are able to put your vulnerability first and Ed is such a wonderful combination of that. Even when he’s playing a tough guy or a macho person, at the end of the day, there’s always a vulnerability that brings people in.”

Ed Harris as the abstract expressionist in a scene from “Pollock”

It’s this blend of bravado and sensitivity that earned Harris a supporting actor Oscar nomination for his heartbreaking turn as a gay man dying of AIDS in “The Hours,” Stephen Daldry’s bigscreen adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning time-skipping novel about Virginia Woolf, her book “Mrs. Dalloway” and its impact on two women. In Harris’ swan song scene in the film, his character, high on Ritalin and Xanax, tells his best friend (Meryl Streep) that he loves her, then rolls out of the window of his apartment, plummeting to his death.

Talk about a dramatic exit.

“Ed Harris has an unerring, centered, certain quality as an actor — you never feel anything wavering, or any less than total commitment to his fiercely realized performances,” says Streep of their experience shooting the movie. “This quality — it’s truthfulness and it’s magnetism — does more than convince you of his character; it pulls credibility into the piece as a whole. Those of us working with him benefit from the centrifugal force of that belief. Looking into the blue laser of his gaze in ‘The Hours’ was to locate the emotional center of the whole movie.”

Age, says Harris, has only enhanced his ability to get in deeper touch with his emotions, enabling him to turn in even headier, heavier, performances.

“Over the years your technique, your instrument if you will, you play it better, you keep it alive” he says. “As actors, in terms of our ability or sensitivity and access to our being, your skin gets thinner.”

But Harris, whose action-thriller “The Adderall Diaries” is due out this year, does have a funny side, he proclaims, despite the fact that he hasn’t had much chance to reveal it onscreen.

“I haven’t done too many comedic films — ‘Pain and Gain’ and ‘Milk Money’ I guess — but, you know, I have a sense of humor, for sure. I mean, I’m not a particularly gregarious individual. I’m a pretty private guy but I wouldn’t say overly serious. I would love to play something like (Bill Murray’s part) in ‘St. Vincent,’ something with intelligent humor. I know that I have this reputation for being, you know, a serious kind of guy, and I try to stay focused on whatever I might be doing but I definitely laugh every day.”

More Film

  • it chapter two, comic con

    Comic-Con: 4500 Gallons of Fake Blood and Everything Else to Know About 'It Chapter Two''

    Comic-Con 2019 kicked off with a stacked presentation from the director and cast of “It Chapter Two” on Wednesday, inspiring a curious amount of joy at San Diego’s Spreckles Theater in spite of the abject terror offered up by the film. The closing chapter to 2017’s record-obliterating “It,” the highest grossing R-rated horror film of [...]

  • 'Between Me and My Mind' Review:

    Film Review: Trey Anastasio in 'Between Me and My Mind'

    Trey Anastasio doesn’t look like a rock star. With his thick rimless glasses and flop of sandy red hair, you might say he resembles John Sebastian, but really, he looks like a mashup of Mike White and Jon Cryer and the filmmaker Chris Smith. He’s an appealingly ordinary shaggy-geek dude, like some guy you might [...]

  • Photo taken July 18, 2019, from

    Multiple Deaths From Arson Attack on Japan's Kyoto Animation

    An arson attack on the Kyoto Animation company on Thursday morning in Japan. has claimed the life of at least one person . But it is now feared that 13 have been killed. Emergency services in Kyoto City received a call around 10.35 a.m. local time reporting an explosion on the first floor. The blaze [...]

  • sith trooper

    Sith Trooper Revealed From 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'

    “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” revealed a new storm trooper uniform Wednesday at San Diego Comic Con as part of a special exhibit celebrating the evolution of the storm trooper design. Dubbed the Sith trooper, the new uniform sports all-red armor plates with a matching red and black blaster. Also decorating the armor is [...]

  • Dunkirk

    Harry Styles Is the Perfect Prince Eric; Why He'd Rock 'Little Mermaid' Role

    Could Harry Styles be the perfect Prince Eric? One day after the announcement that the One Direction star is “in early negotiations to play the iconic ‘Little Mermaid’ role,” the internet exploded with speculation as to how he would portray the object of Ariel’s affections. “I can see lots of reasons why Harry is perfect,” [...]

  • The Lion King

    Film News Roundup: PETA Sponsors Rescued Lion in Jon Favreau's Name

    In today’s film news roundup, PETA honors Jon Favreau for “The Lion King,” “Tigers Are Not Afraid” gets a theatrical release, a Kirk Franklin biopic is in development and “The Sixth Sense” gets an anniversary showing in Philadelphia. HONOR The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is sponsoring a rescued lion to honor director [...]

  • Tokyo Director-in-Focus-at-Japan-Now

    Nobuhiko Obayashi set as Japanese Director in Focus at Tokyo Film Festival

    Indie director, Nobuhiko Obayashi will be feted as the director in focus at the Japan Now section of this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival. The festival will give a world premiere to his “Labyrinth of Cinema.” Supporting his art by shooting commercials, Obayashi is an indie whose dreamy works have influenced numerous other directors in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content