From Carrie Fisher To Harrison Ford (No Star Wars…)

First and foremost, if you’ve not checked out any of my previous Six Degrees posts, i’d urge you to do so. The basic premise of the game has been explained before but to quickly sum up, I take two actors and try to link them through film and TV appearances. It’s basically Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon, but without Kevin Bacon. Except for the times when it includes Kevin Bacon. Moving on…

The inspiration for this week’s Six Degrees post comes from none other than Child Unit 2, my wee man, Callum. I was chatting to him about the idea behind these posts and next thing I know, he tweeted this at me:

It’s an interesting twist on the format and I do love a challenge, so I immediately began to rummage through the dusty files of my memory to find links. I was amazed at how difficult this one was. There are links by the thousands, but the problem is that my brain kept screaming at me that I was being a muppet and that they had starred together in Star Wars. At one point, I wound up linking Harrison Ford to Sean Connery back to Harrison Ford, thoroughly confusing myself for a good five minutes. Even so, after around seven very strong cups of coffee and a very long, sleepless night, I have it. Here goes…

Carrie Fisher and Han Solo in a romantic moment in Star Wars
Aw, no terrible photoshop job this week.

We start with our beloved and dearly departed princess. When a celebrity passes away, there is usually a tremendous outpouring of grief on social media, followed by a second wave of jibes from a parade of arseholes. The “you didn’t even know them” brigade turn out in force and completely misunderstand the different types of grief. Personal grief at the loss of a loved one is, of course, a more powerful and devastating emotion. That being said, it can be equally sorrowful to lose someone who’s work meant a tremendous amount to you and Carrie Fisher (and in particular her role as Princess Leia) meant a hell of a lot to me and my fellow geeks around the world.

Mournful musings aside, Carrie Fisher’s skills will also be missed, as she was one of the most sought after “script doctors” in Hollywood. Though uncredited, her creative touch was called upon to shape and refine Hook, Last Action Hero and Sister Act, to name just a few. Without her, the cinematic tapestry of my childhood would no doubt have been very different.

As you can no doubt tell, i’m a Fisher fan, but i’ll cut the gushing short and get to the next link. Carrie had excellent comic timing (it’s not just fawning, this bit is relevant) and delivered a fantastic supporting performance as Marie, best friend to Meg Ryan’s Sally in possibly the best romantic comedy of all time, When Harry Met Sally.

Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan
“I can smell that, Sally. Jesus…”

I have the softest of soft spots for this film. A perfect blend of heartwarming and hilarious moments, When Harry Met Sally works so well thanks chiefly to the fantastic comedic interactions and chemistry between Meg Ryan and one of my favourite people in cinema, Billy Crystal. The pairing came up with some of the film’s most iconic moments on the fly, including the oft-parodied fake orgasm scene. The original scene called for Ryan and Crystal to discuss the idea of women faking orgasms, but Ryan suggested actually faking one in a public setting and director Rob Reiner(1) loved the idea so much that he changed the script.

That’s Carrie Fisher to either Meg Ryan or Billy Crystal. I ran through some Meg Ryan links, had a few possibilities but nothing was quite clicking in to place so I decided to consider Billy Crystal movies. Now, i’m very aware that i’ve linked through Billy Crystal on more than one occasion already(2) but that’s hardly surprising, given my love of his work. Crystal never fails to make me laugh and features in some of my absolute favourites, Running Scared and The Princess Bride being chief among them. For this link though, I cast my mind back to a pair of seemingly forgotten and strangely unloved films, Analyse This and the imaginatively titled sequel, Analyse That.

Robert De Niro, pointing and smiling
“You, you’re good, you. Now, a word on vaccin-oh you have to go?”

I have both of these films in my ever expanding DVD collection, but I don’t think i’ve watched them since they were first released. I remember enjoying them well enough and as far as I recall, Crystal and De Niro worked well together. I’d definitely suggest checking them out if you’ve not seen them and could use a giggle, but ultimately I think they’re doomed to be forgotten by the masses. Anyway, they’re a decent enough pair of comedies and more importantly they allow me to link Billy Crystal to Robert De Niro, which puts us in the home stretch.

Robert De Niro is generally thought of as one of the greatest actors of all time, with a career spanning almost six decades. Unfortunately his legacy has been somewhat tarnished in recent years by his stance on vaccination, but I believe in separating the art from the misguided artist wherever possible and it’s a hell of a body of work. With countless incredible performances, including classics like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, there’s plenty of linking possibilities. For this piece, however, there was only one option. Heat.

If you haven’t seen Heat, stop reading this immediately. Go to the streaming service of your choice and find Heat. If it’s not there, buy it. I’m serious, watch Heat. The diner scene featuring De Niro and Pacino is, in my opinion, one of the most compelling pieces of cinema of all time. Two absolute titans of the art, delivering pitch perfect performances. Seriously, people, go and watch Heat! The blog isn’t going anywhere.

As you’re reading this sentence, i’ll go ahead and assume that you’ve watched Heat. Awesome, huh? Hell of a flick, with a hell of a cast. In fact, I mentioned it once before in From Elizabeth Shue to Val Kilmer. Oh yeah, Val Kilmer is in there too. I have a problem with him…

Val Kilmer in costume as Batman
I mean, look at him. Unacceptable.

Ok, that was a cheap shot. I don’t hate Val Kilmer. I hate Matthew Broderick, but he straight up killed a guy(3), whereas Val Kilmer has done some cracking work and is probably a fantastic guy. He just never should have played Batman. It’s not entirely his fault, as there’s clearly a casting agent somewhere who must have accidentally triggered some ancient curse which led to Kilmer’s casting as the dark knight. Hell, Clooney was a better Batman, albeit in a far, far inferior film. Far inferior. God damn it, Batman & Robin was so bad. Thank the film gods for the cleansing light of Christopher Nolan.

Val Kilmer (who I am sure is absolutely lovely!) may have been a dreadful Batman, but I didn’t loathe Batman Forever. It had a decent story, a delightfully wacky performance from Jim Carrey as The Riddler, an oft-overlooked cameo by Drew Barrymore (which has come in damn handy for linking purposes on more than one occasion) and one of the best movie themes ever. Don’t even try to argue with me.

Carrey’s Riddler wasn’t the only villain in Batman Forever, of course, as he teamed up with the world’s most indecisive lunatic, Two-Face, played by Tommy Lee Jones. Now yes, Aaron Eckhart took over the role in The Dark Knight and yes, it was a better version of Two-Face. More gritty, more real, infinitely more disturbing, Eckhart’s Two-Face was perfect for the Nolan take on Batman but equally, Tommy Lee Jones was perfect for Batman Forever. The 1995 comic book caper was cartoonish and Jones chewed the scenery and gave an over the top performance which was tons of fun to watch.

Chances are you’ve already figured out the final link, here. Tommy Lee Jones famously portrayed the dogged U.S Marshall, Samuel Gerard, in The Fugitive, the 1993 film adaptation of a 1960s TV classic. In this fast paced thriller, Jones as Gerard is tasked with hunting down escaped felon, Dr Richard Kimble, falsely accused of murdering his wife. Dr Kimble who was of course played by Chewie’s BFF, Mr Harrison Ford.

Carrie Fisher to Billy Crystal, to Robert De Niro, to Val Kilmer, to Tommy Lee Jones, to Harrison Ford. Sorry son, you’ll need to try harder than that.

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As always, thanks to IMDB for the actor and movie info linked in this article. Not that they know about it, but i’m sure they wouldn’t mind.

(1) Super Awesome Special Fun Fact! When Harry Met Sally features number 33 on the American Film Institutes list of the 100 Greatest Film Quotes, “I’ll have what she’s having”. A memorable, comedic response to Meg Ryan’s faked orgasm, the line was delivered by Estelle Reiner, the director’s dear old mum.

(2) I used Billy Crystal as a link in “From Kevin Smith To Jean-Claude Van Damme” and “From Miley Cyrus To Bette Midler”. Linking via Crystal in this post probably serves as grounds for him to take out a restraining order.

(3) 1987. Broderick is not good people. Plus Inspector Gadget was bloody abysmal.




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