Harrison Ford is 71! Watch him talk 'Star Wars' on TODAY in '77 

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!

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    Harrison Ford

    Whether playing Indiana Jones, Han Solo or a medical researcher, Ford is most comfortable in the role of a hero.

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    Chairman of the board -

    Harrison Ford cradles the Board of the Governors Award he was presented with at the 26th annual American Society of Cinematographers' Outstanding Achievement Awards, held in Hollywood, Calif. on Feb. 12, 2012.

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    Golden couple -

    Ford and wife Calista Flockhart attend the 69th Golden Globe awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Jan. 15, 2012.

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    Frequent flyer -

    Ford, who is a pilot as well as an actor, attends the Senate General Aviation Caucus meeting in Washington on Oct. 18, 2011.

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    'Cowboys & Aliens' -

    Ford is still playing a hero, even decades after his start in film. He stars with James Bond star Daniel Craig in 2011's "Cowboys & Aliens."

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    Can't wait! -

    Ford accepts the most anticipated movie award for "Cowboy & Aliens" at the Spike TV Guys Choice Awards on Saturday, June 4, 2011, in Culver City, Calif. Looking on are Jon Favreau and Jeremy Renner. Favreau directs the film.

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    What's the story, 'Morning Glory'? -

    Ford and Rachel McAdams attend the UK premiere of their 2010 film, "Morning Glory," held at The Empire Leicester Square on Jan. 11, 2011, in London. He plays a veteran journalist and she an aspiring producer in the world of morning television.

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    Wake-up call -

    Diane Keaton also stars with Ford in "Morning Glory."

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    Red-carpet couple -

    Ford and wife Calista Flockhart arrive at the premiere of "Extraordinary Measures" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010.

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    'Extraordinary Measures' -

    In 2010's "Extraordinary Measures," Brendan Fraser, right, plays John Crowley, a biotechnology executive, whose two youngest children were afflicted with Pompe disease. He raises money for research scientist Robert Stonehill (Ford), forming a company to develop a drug to save his children's lives.

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    'Crossing Over' -

    Ford plays an immigration officer in 2009's "Crossing Over," which explores the allure of the American dream, and the reality that immigrants find --- and create -- in 21st century Los Angeles.

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    Advocate -

    Ford speaks during the second Governors' Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009.

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    Indy returns! -

    Ford reprised his role as Indiana Jones in 2008's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Shia LaBeouf played Mutt, Jones' son with "Raiders of the Lost Ark" paramour Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen).

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    Big kid -

    Ford gets slimed during the 21st Annual Kids' Choice Awards in Los Angeles, in 2008.

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    Pitching in -

    Flockhart and Ford join Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Nov. 2007, to dish up Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of men, women and children who live in Los Angeles' Skid Row.

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    Meet the press -

    Ford answers question as he arrives at the Rome Film Festival in October 2006. Ford was at the festival to honor Jim Berkus, co-founder and president of the United Talent Agency.

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    Drama king -

    Ford promotes his film "Firewall" at the Coliseum Cinema in Barcelona on March 2006. The film tells the story of a bank-security executive (Ford) who must rob his own bank in order to ensure the safety of his kidnapped wife and children.

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    Globe trotters -

    "Firewall" co-stars Virginia Madsen and Ford share a laugh backstage before presenting at the 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 16, 2006.

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    Jedi mind trick -

    Flockhart and Ford pose with storm troopers at the 33rd American Film Institute Life Achievement Awards after-party on June 9, 2005 in Hollywood, Calif. Ford starred as Han Solo in "Star Wars," "The Empire Strikes Back," and "Return of the Jedi."

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    True star -

    Ford attends a ceremony honoring him with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on May 30, 2003 in Hollywood, Calif.

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    Ready for action -

    Ford films a scene on the set of "Hollywood Homicide," on Sept. 17, 2002 in Beverly Hills, Calif. He co-starred with Josh Hartnett in this film about two moonlighting L.A. cops.

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    Real hero -

    On July 10, 2001, Ford used his helicopter in a search-and-rescue mission in Jackson, Wy. Ford located 13-year-old Boy Scout Cody Clawson, who had wandered off the trail. Clawson's mom told People magazine, "Cody said the kids asked if he got an autograph and he said, 'No, but I got a hug and a handshake, and that's better.'"

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    Pensive pair -

    Ford starred opposite Michelle Pfeiffer in the 2000 film, "What Lies Beneath." The pair played a husband and wife who are haunted by a specter from Ford's past.

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    Three amigos -

    Ford receives the American Film Institute's lifetime achievement award from director George Lucas while director Steven Spielberg looks on in Beverly Hills, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 17, 2000. Lucas cast Ford in "American Graffiti" and "Star Wars," and Spielberg directed him in the "Indiana Jones" movies.

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    Former couple -

    Ford and his former wife Melissa Mathison attend the premiere of "Six Days and Seven Nights" on June 8, 1998. The two divorced in 2004 after more than two decades of marriage.

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    All wet -

    Harrison Ford and Anne Heche starred together in "Six Days Seven Nights" as feuding pair who crash on a deserted South Seas island. The film was a notorious flop.

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    Power player -

    Ford is greeted by President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a 2005 White House state dinner honoring Blair and wife Cherie.

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    Tasty trio -

    Ruben Blades, Ford and Brad Pitt starred in 1997's "The Devil's Own." Ford played a police officer who realizes his houseguest (Pitt) is an IRA agent.

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    Turbulent flight -

    Harrison Ford starred as the president of the United States in 1997's "Air Force One." The presidential plane is hijacked by bad guy Gary Oldman.

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    Harvard follies -

    Ford beams as Nick Gordon and Jason Watkins plant a kiss on him during the Hasty Pudding Theatrics Man of the Year Award Presentation at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass., on Feb 20, 1996.

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    'Working' for a living -

    Ford teamed up with Melanie Griffith in this 1988 film about a Staten Island-raised secretary who gets her corporate big break when she impersonates her injured boss -- and stealing her boyfriend (Ford) in the process.

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    'Mosquito Coast' -

    In this 1986 film, Allie Fox (Ford) and his wife take their family to Central America to build a paradise that is never found.

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    Top cop -

    Ford starred as Rick Deckard in Ridley Scott's 1982 film "Blade Runner." In the sci-fi thriller, Deckard must track down and kill four replicants (human clones).

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    The birth of Indy -

    Ford struck cinematic gold starting as swashbuckling archeologist Indiana Jones in 1981's "Raiders of the Lost Ark." The film sparked three sequels.

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    'The Frisco Kid' -

    This 1979 comedy, directed by Robert Aldrich, tells the story of a Polish rabbi (played by Gene Wilder) who is traveling to San Francisco, and Ford as a bank robber who befriends him.

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    Let the Wookiee win -

    Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Ford) outwit Darth Vader and destroy the Death Star in 1977's "Star Wars." She loves him. He knows.

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    Reporting for duty -

    Ford had a featured role in Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 classic, "Apocalypse Now."

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    Early break -

    Director George Lucas took notice of Ford early, casting him in his 1973 film "American Graffitti" opposite other rising stars such as Richard Dreyfuss and Ron Howard.

    Universal Studios
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