Elvis Presley: How Harrison Ford Imitated Him During His Early Career

Elvis Presley and Harrison Ford are both showbusiness icons, however, one wouldn’t necessarily associate one with the other. Despite this, Columbia Pictures actually tried to get Ford to be more like the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll during the earlier years of his career. Here’s how.

Harrison Ford in a suit
Harrison Ford | The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

How a studio tried to get Harrison Ford to be more like Elvis Presley

During an interview with GQ, Ford discussed his expectations for his early career. “I never thought I was going to be anything spectacular. I guess I thought it would be nice if my parents thought I wasn’t a total f*ck up.”

Ford was from Wisconsin but he decided he had to move elsewhere to get his career rolling. “That’s when I first considered being an actor for money,” he recalled. “I knew I had to go to LA or New York, and quick, as it had begun to snow. So I flipped a coin. It came up New York, so I flipped it again so I could go to LA. I wasn’t going to starve and freeze.”

“Suspicious Minds”

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Ford got a contract with Colulmbia Pictures that didn’t work out. “I did a year and a half and got kicked out for being too difficult,” he recalled. “I was very unhappy with the process they were engaged with, which was to re-create stars the way it had been done in the Fifties. They sent me to get my hair pompadoured like Elvis Presley, photo in hand, all that sh*t for $150 a week.” 

This was in the mid-1960s when Elvis was a major star of the screen, so it makes sense Columbia would want Ford to emulate him. Eventually, Ford would become a star on his own terms, with a screen presence very different from Elvis’. While Ford and Elvis made very different movies, they both became icons because of their incredible charisma.

“Burning Love”

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The connection between Indiana Jones and Elvis Presley

This would not be the end of Ford’s connection to Elvis. For example, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s version of “Hound Dog” appears in the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The song helps to emphasize the film’s 1950s setting.

How the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll had a presence in one of Harrison Ford’s more recent films

Ford appeared in the belated sequel Blade Runner 2049 playing Rick Deckard. In the film, Deckard spends time in Las Vegas with robots designed to look like Elvis and Frank Sinatra. It’s interesting to think Elvis could still be an icon of Las Vegas entertainment even in 2049, the year in which the film is set.

“Can’t Help Falling In Love”

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In addition, two of Elvis’ most famous 1960s tracks — “Suspicious Minds” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” — appear on the film’s soundtrack. The soundtrack of Blade Runner 2049 reached No. 53 on the Billboard 200. Blade Runner 2049 proves both Ford and Elvis were important cultural figures long after they first became famous.