Harrison Ford was at a crossroads. He could continue to be a craftsman, and build decks for the rich and famous, or he could throw that all away and aspire to be an actor.
He chose the latter. Or rather, it chose him.
As has been widely accounted, the story of Harrison Ford’s meteoric rise to stardom came from a serendipitous event. He was doing a masterful job fitting a door for Francis Ford Coppola at his American Zoetrope studio, when Coppola saw that his co-founder, George Lucas, needed someone to read lines to the actors auditioning for a campy space opera called Star Wars. Lucas remembered Ford from their time on the set of Lucas’ previous film American Graffiti. He also remembered the brash Ford asking for $15 more per week above the $485 Lucas offered him for his role in said film. Ford told him that it made up for the money he would lose by not doing carpentry work.
That story has been told already.
Little do many know, however, what a craftsman Ford really was. Ford took to carpentry to salvage a fixer-upper he bought in the Hollywood Hills. Just like acting, he had no previous training. That said, he was no slouch with a hammer and nails. His first carpentry job was to build a recording studio for Sergio Mendes. He admittedly had problems. He once said that he was standing on Mendes’ roof with a textbook in his hand. Luckily, he didn’t hurt himself. He also made a sun deck for Sally Kellerman (M*A*S*H, Back To School), and cabinets and furniture for Richard Dreyfus, John Gregory Dunne and Valerie Harper.
It wasn’t until the release of Star Wars that Ford finally hung up the tool belt. That was a banner day for woodworkers everywhere.