Although it would go on to be a critical and commercial hit, Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones weren’t sure The Fugitive would work.
Whether or not you care if Dr. Richard Kimble killed his wife – Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard sure didn’t – there’s no denying that 1993’s The Fugitive stands as one of the most thrilling movies of the decade. But while filming it, stars Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones had a feeling that The Fugitive could be the end of their careers.
In a new oral history to commemorate the 30th anniversary of The Fugitive, there are stories abound related to its origins, successes and skepticisms, with Jones and Ford certain the movie would flop harder than Kimble hitting the water. Jones himself recalled, “I remember being in the giant basement of that hotel, surrounded by hanging bags of laundry. I was standing there speaking out to Harrison’s character. And there was nothing there except big bags of laundry. And I remember thinking in the back of my mind, ‘I’ll never work again. This is never going to work. And the best thing I can do is be as clear, concise, and coherent as possible, deliver these lines as cleanly and dutifully as possible, and maybe I’ll get another job one day, somewhere down the line.’” Jones would go on to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, the movie’s only win out of seven nominations.
Although Ford didn’t take part in the Rolling Stone piece – which is worth a read, although we still prefer our episode of “WTF Happened to This Movie?!” detailing the production – he had similar sentiments to Jones regarding The Fugitive‘s potential. According to co-star Daniel Roebuck, “Harrison Ford said in front of me when we were in the water, so I can attest that he said it. He goes, ‘Oh, man, this is going to be my Hudson Hawk,’” referring to the Razzie-winning dud starring Bruce Willis.
Fortunately for Ford, Jones and movie lovers, The Fugitive was a smash upon release, earning not only some of the most Oscar nods that year but also ranking as the second-highest grossing movie of the year (topped only by Jurassic Park) and later placing #33 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list. But imagine if The Fugitive did flop and the careers of Ford and Jones were stalled or shaken up completely. We wouldn’t see Jones chew it up as Two-Face or Ford bring back Indiana Jones for a fourth or fifth installment…OK, so there are some positives in that alternate timeline…
Are you a fan of The Fugitive? What is your favorite scene from the movie? Let us know!