July 13, 2013 at 8:55 AM ET
A long time ago, in a galaxy ... ah, forget it. That's no way to wish a guy a happy birthday. Especially not someone like Harrison Ford, with a film resume that reaches far beyond "Star Wars."
But as we tip our Indiana Jones fedora to recognize the actor's 71st on Saturday, it's necessary to show our love for Han Solo, the space cowboy who blasted into our hearts in 1977.
As cocky as that character was, it's great (through the wonders of hyperspace!) to actually go back to 1977 and see how reserved Ford was as a 35-year-old star. He appeared on TODAY with Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) to talk about the little science fiction movie the three were all starring in that summer.
TODAY movie critic Gene Shalit has fun with Ford's name, introducing him as "the only movie actor named after two presidents." When asked whether that distinction was "nice," Ford smiles and tells Shalit, "It's never come up before."
While "Star Wars" was certainly taking the country by storm at the time, it was years away from becoming the worldwide pop culture phenomenon that it is today. Which is why Ford was able to say he enjoyed sitting in a theater to "see people really enjoy something like that. ... It's easy to be anonymous at this point. Nobody recognizes us when we go into a theater — which is a pleasure, I must say."
The pleasure in theaters has been ours, from "Star Wars" to "Blade Runner" to "Indiana Jones" to "The Fugitive" and many more. Happy birthday!