• Golden Globe Awards

Oral History: Harrison Ford on “The Mosquito Coast”

When Harrison Ford met with HFPA journalists in 1986, he spoke about his character in The Mosquito Coast, directed by Peter Weir from the 1981 novel by Paul Theroux.
“The film is fairly faithful to the spirit, to the intention of the book by Paul Theroux, the material that it came from, that was the genesis. I don’t see any problem in playing a character that’s less than sympathetic and I knew that it would be a controversial film.”
“Peter and I were both aware of the possible difficulty of the audience’s understanding what our attitude was about America, so in the original screenplay by Paul Schrader, there was no scene where Allie Fox tells the story of his mother’s death. It was one of my suggestions that we included that dramatic story from the book to show the audience that Allie Fox does love America. “
“If you have a newspaper handy, I can point out to you, from Ivan Boesky to the secret war in the White House and all the way down the line, that it’s our right and responsibility to criticize America. But also, it’s a matter of degree. This is a character who’s operatic in tone and so his criticisms are as exaggerated, overblown, but we all would hope for a more perfected America, which is not Ronald Reagan’s America.”
“There’s a great independence of spirit in the American people and some will see Allie Fox as a fool, while others will see him as a sympathetic person. I expected that, I never wanted anybody to be comfortable with him. I was not expecting this character to be embraced as a prophet for the new America.”
“I would hope that the effect of the film itself, however, would be strong enough so that you would be interested in his circumstances and how he affected other people. The film does not insist that you find him attractive and right.”
“Certainly, there have been many questions about the relationship between Allie Fox and his wife and I’ve been surprised by them, frankly, because this film is not meant to represent a vision of the perfect world. In this particular case, it’s not a disproof of feminist theory that this woman reacts as she does to this man. She clearly loves him and that’s their relationship.”
“As for my philosophy of life, I guess that, if you can get through life with a degree of happiness, some work to do, a few important relationships, and not hurt anybody else, that would be my ideal. I can tell you sincerely that I’m very delighted with the way my life is working right now. I wouldn’t change a thing, to tell you the truth, except my nose maybe…”