‘Star Wars’: Harrison Ford Was Working as a Carpenter in Francis Ford Coppola’s Office When George Lucas Cast Him as Han Solo

It’s not uncommon for fans to hear stories about their favorite actors’ careers prior to fame and fortune. Superstar actors such as Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp worked numerous odd jobs to support themselves prior to making it big, and so did Harrison Ford.

Before finding success as Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise, Ford worked as a carpenter. In fact, his carpentry skills helped him get selected for the role. 

Harrison Ford had already worked with George Lucas on ‘American Graffiti’

Han Solo
Harrison Ford playing Han Solo in Star Wars

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Although Ford and Lucas’ relationship is mostly predicated on their collaboration for the Star Wars franchise, the two had already worked together prior to the movie’s production. They had previously worked on the coming-of-age film American Graffiti together and had built a bit of rapport. 

However, despite their connection, Ford’s role in Star Wars was not guaranteed. In fact, Lucas had no desire to include any actors from American Graffiti in Star Wars

“I had already done American Graffiti with George Lucas,” Ford said. “George Lucas made it known that he was not interested in working with anybody that he’d worked with in American Graffiti, that he was looking for new faces.”

Harrison Ford was working on Francis Ford Coppola’s office when George Lucas noticed him 

Although Lucas had previously mentioned his intention of working with new actors for Star Wars, he made a concession for Ford. By coincidence, he noticed Ford when the actor was handling a carpentry job for Francis Ford Coppola’s office and invited him in for an audition. 

“I was working on a elaborate portico entrance to Francis Ford Coppola’s offices, working as a carpenter when George walked in with Richard Dreyfuss to being the first of the interviews for Star Wars. Somehow that rang a bell with George, and I became, eventually, Han Solo.”

It may come as a surprise to find out Ford was working as a carpenter after starring in as successful of a film as American Graffiti. However, according to the book Star Wars Conquers the Universe, Ford hadn’t made a ton of money from the role and was still struggling to find work at the time.

“Harrison had done a lot of carpentry for me,” casting director Fred Roos said. “He needed money, he had kids, he wasn’t a big movie star yet. The day he was doing it, George happened to be there. It was serendipitous.”

Ford felt Han Solo had ‘reached his potential’ after the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy

“Star Wars was a big success,” Ford said. “So I was happy to come back and play Han Solo again, and again, but that was enough. I thought that he had reached his potential, therefore could serve the story by dying.”

Ford didn’t necessarily care about how Han Solo died, he was just grateful the production team wanted him back in the franchise. 

“Manner of death was not an issue,” Ford said. “I was very gratified to see that other people were enthusiastic to have me back. I was happy to be there.

Harrison Ford doesn’t have a favorite ‘Star Wars’ movie

Believe it or not, Ford doesn’t have a favorite Star Wars movie. For him, the only thing that mattered was creating a compelling narrative.

“I don’t really have a favorite, it’s just brick on a brick to build the story. It’s not about the party, it’s about what you’re celebrating.”