One wears a crisp designer dress shirt and a sport coat. The other looks like he shops at second-hand thrift stores. One stares blankly out the window when he's talking to you. The other looks you right in the eyes. One is reserved, quiet and succinct. The other is garrulous, chummy and philosophical.
One is Harrison Ford. The other is Josh Hartnett.
Both star in the new buddy cop film Hollywood Homicide, an action-comedy from writer/director Ron Shelton (Bull Durham). The film finds comedy (and a pinch of drama) in the old-school ways of Ford's character as they contrast with Hartnett's rookie detective. But the film is also a study in the generation gap of its two stars. Never is this more apparent than in back-to-back interviews with them. Sitting across from each actor in a Los Angeles hotel room earlier this month, the differences (and some surprising similarities) present themselves obviously.
"(Shelton) says we're from different planets," Ford says. "I don't know what planet Josh is from, but he's a very different guy. He grew up in a different world than I did."
Says Hartnett: "We have very different personalities."
So what's really so different?
Age, for starters. A lot of it. Ford will turn 61 years old this year. Hartnett -- who is quick to point out he was born a year after Ford did Star Wars -- will be 25.
Ford usually plays pretty close to his actual age, even if those characters (Jack Ryan and Indiana Jones among them) don't punch and run like AARP candidates. Hartnett is happy to have graduated from melancholy teenage roles, after doing time in The Faculty and O.
Experience, acclaim and box-office success are further differences. Ford has done 40 films. Hartnett only 14. Ford just received a star on the Hollywood "Walk of Fame." Hartnett has twice been nominated for MTV movie awards. He lost both times.
And there just isn't a man alive who can match Ford's track record at the gate. He stars in five of the top 50 grossing films of all time. (Internet Movie Database totals his films' grosses at over $5.5 billion) Hartnett has one blockbuster with Pearl Harbor, also an all-time top 50 grosser.
But Hartnett doesn't appear to care much about doing big commercial successes. He says he turned down the role of Superman in the upcoming big-budget adaptation at least four times.
"When people pursue you with that amount of vigor, I take it seriously," he says. "So I thought about it. But no, I never wanted to do it. It just wasn't what I wanted to do."
Ford doesn't have to find hits, but that doesn't mean he will stay away from them. Ford confirmed that another Indiana Jones installment is now being prepared. He says he is looking forward to the opportunity "to work with Steven (Spielberg), to play that character again, to bring that kind of film to the audience. I know it's eagerly anticipated. I just want us to do a good job, make a film at least as good as the ones before."
Shelton says he knew he had his leads for Hollywood Homicide the moment he put the two of them in a room together. As Shelton tells it, he likes putting potential co-stars in close quarters, to see how they react to and interact with each other.
Ford and Hartnett didn't disappoint. He says the moment they sat down, Hartnett started talking about how great it will be to do yoga again. (His character moonlights as an instructor in the film.) Shelton says Ford couldn't get over the fact that Hartnett actually did yoga. From that moment, he knew they were his leads.
Despite the differences, both actors say they truly enjoyed working with the other. They both were only interested in doing their job well. It made for a trouble-free set.
Ford says he respects Hartnett's abilities but wonders whether or not young actors have it easier or harder than he did getting his start in Hollywood.
"There's a lot more product now than there was when I was coming up in the business," he says. "So maybe more of them have a chance. And when I was first starting, there was a limited idea of what a leading man was. A lot of that has changed as well."
While Hartnett says he knows he won't take the same path, he would be pleased as punch to be sitting in Ford's position when he's Ford's age.
"I look up to Harrison because he's had an amazingly long career," Hartnett says. "He's done exactly what he wanted to do every step of the way. He doesn't get much crap. He does what he feels is best. I admire that. I'll choose different roles than he chose, just because we have different personalities."
The topic veers into the two stars' personal lives, since they both tend to tickle the fancy of tabloid journalists worldwide. Ford has his juicy romance with actress Calista Flockhart. That they can't go anywhere without a camera in their faces is "ludicrous" and "evasive," Ford says.
Hartnett could easily be the most eligible young bachelor in Hollywood. But if it's one thing he's learned since arriving on the scene, it's that he can never take a day off from being famous.
Both actors attempt to live off the media radar, and neither understands why he can't be left to do so. But their presentations of this frustration couldn't be more different.
One is gruff, quiet and introspective. The other is thoughtful, guarded but willing to explain.
Guess which is which. ©