HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 13: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been digitally retouched) Harrison Ford arrives at the Premiere of 'The Call of the Wild' at the El Capitan Theatre on February 13, 2020 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty Images)
Movies - TV
Casting Harrison Ford Didn't Make Witness Any Less Of A Risk For Studio
“Witness,” the 1985 film that received eight Oscar nominations, is arguably an American classic, combining neo-noir and socio-religious commentary into an unassuming package. While the film was wildly successful when it debuted, getting the movie greenlit was an arduous process that required taking several risks, like casting Harrison Ford as the lead.
Producer Edward S. Feldman shared in his autobiography, “Tell Me How You Love The Picture,” that although Ford was a growing star, he was relatively inexperienced in headlining non-action films. Feldman wrote, “You can’t ask [people before the release of ‘Witness’] whether they want to see Harrison Ford as a tough but sensitive cop when they know and love him as Han Solo.”
Casting Ford wasn’t the only risk for the studio, as the film was to be the first American project for director Peter Weir. However, the film’s Amish setting caused the studio’s greatest hesitation due to the belief that a movie about rural communities wouldn’t be profitable — yet the film managed to gross over $116 million worldwide on a budget of $12 million.