|By Marianne Gray|
Harrison Ford agreed to do Six Days, Seven Nights, the new Ivan
Reitman romantic comedy co-starring Anne Heche, he insisted that as he
was playing a pilot he wanted to do his own flying in the picture.
"Sure," agreed Reitman, while privately telling friends with some relief that the insurance company would never go for it. But they did. And although insiders sigh that it took 'a lot of negotiations', Reitman wound up with one of the world's most bankable stars (reportedly a $20m fee a film) doubling as a stunt flyer in his own plane.
"It suited me fine," says Ford - aerial radio name 'Towel Boy' - who owns two jets. His latest 'toy', used in the film, is a small, single-engined plane called a DeHavilland Beaver. "Plus I learned how to fly a helicopter as well so that I could fly myself to the film's remote island locations."
In the film Ford plays a tough, gruff South Pacific island cargo-pilot called Quinn Harris. His opposite is a snappy New York magazine editor (played by Heche), there with her hapless fiancé (played by Friends' David Schwimmer), until a sudden crisis forces her to return to New York. She bribes Quinn to fly her to the closest international airport. A sudden storm forces them down on an uninhabited island, the two last people in the world who'd ever choose to be stranded on a tropical island together.
"Stranded on a tropical island together with a lot of scorpions," adds Heche, who was bitten by a scorpion while on location in Hawaii. "The arachnids of the film were supposed to be plastic, but some joker slipped some real scorpions into the 'chute. Harrison and I were sliding down a jungle trail and I looked down to see the real McCoy hanging off my leg.
"Almost worst than that, however, was flying through a genuine tropical storm, a mini hurricane, which came on unexpectedly as Harrison was flying the plane. That was real white-knuckle stuff. That is me sitting beside Harrison as he pulls all those aerial stunts, not some stand-in."
Ford and Heche (pronounced 'Haytch') were in Hawaii for several months during the shooting of this film which the industry thought would never happen. Heche's durability was further tested after having stubbed her toe on some lava ('Volcano's Revenge' they joked on set) and had to film almost the entire film with a broken toe.
"She didn't want to play the damsel in distress," remarked Ford. "She was stubborn about those things she felt were inadequate and she was so often right."
A romantic comedy that harks back to the screwball comedies of the '30s and '40s follows.
"I wanted to do a comedy and I reckoned Quinn was different from other characters I've done recently," says Ford, his hair still spiky from his role. "I choose films on a basis of what I think an audience would enjoy seeing. I don't choose them on the basis of an opportunity to perform, to do a Polish accent or have a great drunk scene. I wanted the challenge of doing a comedy. The old canard that dying is easy but comedy is hard is true. Comedy is like a game of pick-up-sticks."
|Read the full feature in the August issue of Film Review|
|"I choose films on a basis of what I think an audience would enjoy seeing. I don't choose them on the basis of an opportunity to perform, to do a Polish accent or have a great drunk scene."|