Harrison Ford Worked as Carpenter to Feed Family of 4 — After Huge Fame, He Still Works in the Woodshop on His Ranch

Harrison Ford is a world-class actor, but he had to work hard to achieve that status. He was a carpenter for several years and found himself doing a job where the casting for his breakthrough role took place. Now Ford is a millionaire with several properties, although he lives modestly out of the limelight.

Harrison Ford is one of Hollywood’s icons with several legendary leading roles in some of the best movies in the industry. Ford is a Chicago-born actor from Illinois. His mother, Dorothy, was a homemaker, and his father, Christopher, was an advertising executive.

The actor did not have much to say about his childhood; he described it as “relatively uneventful, middle-class – but a happy time nonetheless.” He graduated high school in 1960 and went to college to study English and Philosophy at Ripon College in Wisconsin.

Harrison Ford in California in 2003 | Source: Getty Images

Harrison Ford in California in 2003 | Source: Getty Images

Ford’s time in college accidentally exposed him to acting. He decided to sign up for a drama class, thinking it would be an easy way to get good grades. He was nervous about performing in front of a crowd, but he loved the storytelling part of it.

Though Ford had found something he enjoyed in college, he was not the best student, so he left the university before graduating and decided to build his acting career independently. But the road was difficult, so he became a carpenter while scraping for acting roles.

“Through carpentry, I fed my family,” revealed Ford, whose job as a carpenter allowed him to sieve through the acting roles that came his way and patiently wait for his breakthrough role.

However, Ford admitted that the waiting started to become frustrating. Regardless, he never gave up on his ambition to become a successful actor and did not let the stress distract him from achieving his goal.

Ford was one of the founding actors of the “Star Wars” franchise. But there is a story behind how he landed his iconic role in the trilogy. Ford and the creator of “Star Wars,” George Lucas, had two different versions of how Ford was cast to play Han Solo.

Harrison Ford and his mother Dorothy in Hollywood in 2003 | Source: Getty Images

Harrison Ford and his mother Dorothy in Hollywood in 2003 | Source: Getty Images

Lucas, who previously directed “American Graffiti,” had cast Ford for a minor role. While creating a list of actors to include in “Star Wars,” he swore not to bring anyone from his previous film because he did not want it to be criticized as a remake of “American Graffiti” in outer space.

Lucas’ friend and renowned producer Fred Roos suggested Ford would be perfect for the role of Han Solo. At the time, Roos had hired Ford for his carpentry services to build a door at American Zoetrope, where Lucas was hosting his casting.

When Lucas saw Ford there, Ford insisted he was only there to do carpentry work, not for the casting, which Lucas found hard to believe. However, it turned out that Ford was there by coincidence.

Harrison Ford in California in 1984 | Source: Getty Images

Harrison Ford in California in 1984 | Source: Getty Images

Roos admitted Ford had done a few carpentry jobs for him, and he just happened to be there the day he was cast for Han Solo. He turned out to be perfect for the part, which proved his point.

Roos hired Ford for his carpentry because he knew the actor was doing it to provide for his wife and children while waiting for the role that would change his life.

Ford has two sons, Benjamin and Willard, with his first wife, Mary Marquardt, who worked as an illustrator. His eldest son was born in 1966, and at the time, the actor was in his 20s and ten years away from his breakthrough acting role. He welcomed Willard in 1969.

The actor might have kept his head high during the trials and tribulations of his upcoming acting career, but his career was said to be over before it even started, so Ford worked hard to prove these critics wrong.

Proving Critics Wrong

Ford debuted his first film in 1966 in “Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round.” He played a bellboy, and his most spoken line was “Paging Mr. Jones, paging Mr. Jones. Paging Mr. Jones.”

The actor revealed the head of the talent department blatantly told him his bellboy role would be his last and to forget about ever making movies.

Harrison Ford photographed in 1981 | Source: Getty Images

Harrison Ford photographed in 1981 | Source: Getty Images

But he proved everyone who did not believe in him wrong by being one of the most successful actors. His iconic parts in massive franchises like “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” earned him a fortune. However, those were not his only memorable roles; Ford also starred in “The Fugitive,” “Blade Runner,” and “Air Force One.”

Despite the massive success that Ford has built, he still approaches every job with the utmost humility. He said,

“As a friend once said, the collar around my neck is blue. I know what it is to work and work hard. Acting is a job, a responsibility, a complex task – all those things. I approach all work from a workman’s point of view. I expect to get my hands dirty, get into a sweat, and work overtime.”

Harrison Ford in Beverly Hills in 1984 | Source: Getty Inages

Harrison Ford in Beverly Hills in 1984 | Source: Getty Inages

The actor admitted that one of his toughest acting jobs that had him breaking a sweat was filming “The Mosquito Coast” in the hot Central American country of Belize.

Ford said it was not the heat that made it challenging, but he found the role mentally exhausting. Nevertheless, the actor was happy that the production team did not try to recreate the environment in Los Angeles and kept the location true to the storyline.

Ford’s mantra gained him stardom and respect in the industry. In 2023, he was named one of the highest-earning actors, with an estimated net worth of $300 million.

Harrison Ford in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" in 1984 | Source: Getty Images

Harrison Ford in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” in 1984 | Source: Getty Images

Ford made most of his money from the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises. His roles were so liked that he was used on some of their merchandise, which added to his wealth.

The actor shows no signs of slowing down; he is set to appear in the next “Indiana Jones” movie as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, which will be released in 2024. To add to his asset portfolio, Ford has several properties but still chooses to lead a simple life out of the city.

Living on a Farm as a Millionaire

Ford has bought a few properties and sold some too. His childhood home in Chicago was a modest three-bedroom house with 1.5 bathrooms. The home built in 1922 had gone through extensive renovation though its exterior was left in its original state. It was put on the market in 2022 for $749,000.

Harrison Ford at the Cannes Festival in 2003 | Source: Getty Images

Harrison Ford at the Cannes Festival in 2003 | Source: Getty Images

Ford has a ranch in Wyoming, which is 800 acres big. He lives there with his third wife, ​​Calista Flockhart, but the farm has been the actor’s home for over 35 years.

The “Star Wars” legend treats his Wyoming ranch as an escape and a personal sanctuary. He said he wakes up and walks through his endless land whenever he’s there.

In 2012, Ford sold his home in Brentwood, California, where he lived for 30 years. The house was on the market for a whopping $8,295,000.

Harrison Ford's house in Wyoming | Source: Getty Images

Harrison Ford’s house in Wyoming | Source: Getty Images

Ford originally bought a 1,164-square-foot home in 1983 for $1 million. It had four bedrooms, a poolside, a detached bedroom guest suite, and two more additional guest suits, which Ford’s staff could have used.

After selling that house, Ford and Flockhart bought another house in Brentwood for $12.65 million. The property has been their main residence in Los Angeles ever since.

Ford’s properties also include a penthouse in New York which he bought in 2001 for $5.3 million. He put the house on the market for $16 million but removed it too. The penthouse is 5.500 square feet with four bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.

A view of Harrison Ford's Wyoming ranch | Source: Getty Images

A view of Harrison Ford’s Wyoming ranch | Source: Getty Images

It is equipped with a one-of-a-kind kitchen, gym, office, and library. Not to forget the impressive 2,300-square-foot private roof terrace with views of Manhattan and the Hudson River.

In 2020, the actor opened up about his daily routine on his Wyoming ranch, revealing he attends to his chores around the farm, and if nothing urgent needs to be done, he flies his plane or walks in the woods.

Harrison Ford flying near Wyoming in 2001 | Source: Getty Images

Harrison Ford flying near Wyoming in 2001 | Source: Getty Images

He also rides his mountain bike or does some woodwork, but there’s never a dull day for Ford on the ranch; in fact, there’s rarely a day when he has nothing on his to-do list.

Ford always finds himself doing house maintenance, working in his workshop, or helping some guys fix more significant house problems, like the roof. Other than that, he loves spending quality time with his wife. He and Flockhart have been married for almost 13 years, but they were together seven or eight years before walking down the aisle.

Ford is also a father of five who balances his time between Los Angeles and Wyoming, so he has a lot on his hands. But there’s no stopping him, as he has several movies in the works.

Harrison Ford with his second wife Melissa Mathison in New York in 1991 | Source: Getty Images

Harrison Ford with his second wife Melissa Mathison in New York in 1991 | Source: Getty Images

In addition to his two sons with Marquart, Ford has two more children, Malcolm and Georgia, with his second wife, Melissa Mathison. He became a father of five when he married Flockhart, with whom he shared an adopted son, Liam.

Regarding parenting, Ford said the experience brought a lot of lessons, but he admitted that raising babies was not an easy job since he was only 25 when he had his first son.

But now Ford believes he has become a better parent. Most of his children are adults in their 20s and 30s, so Ford admitted that having a nine-year-old boy at his age was a significant transition.

Harrison Ford with his wife Calista Flockhart in Hollywood in 2010 | Source: Getty Images

Harrison Ford with his wife Calista Flockhart in Hollywood in 2010 | Source: Getty Images

Nonetheless, the experience has been equally joyful. He revealed that he met Flockhart when Liam was about six or seven months; therefore, they built a strong connection from the early stages of his life.

Ford and his wife have been married for over a decade, and when they celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary, the actor said he found the secret to a long-lasting marriage.

He joked that the trick to marriage is to nod and agree with everything his wife says with a smile. He also revealed that he’s never been one for dry humor, so he does not know where the jokes come from. However, Ford enjoys his funny side.

What Ford enjoys the most is the quality of his private life. The actor is not a typical celebrity with fancy cars; he reportedly drives a Prius.

He loves to take his dog Kita to the local park. Luckily, he never has anyone bother him. His friendships are also under the radar with people not in the industry.

The reason Ford had kept out of the public eye was not only for his privacy but for his job. He explained that he was secure in his career, but one thing he valued was respect. The actor explained:

“I am not generally out looking to be admired. I want to be good at what I do, and I want to learn from other people how to get good, be good, stay good.”

Ford’s perseverance and strength to keep going no matter how discouraging life may get earned him a comfortable life. His experience as a carpenter helped him build his respectable reputation today.