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Harrison Ford is taking some responsibility for the tension that developed with Brad Pitt during the making of their 1997 thriller “The Devil’s Own.” The film, which notably marked the last directorial effort from Alan J. Pakula (“All the President’s Men,” “Klute”), earned mixed reviews but grossed $140 million worldwide. Ford has often said in past interviews that it was difficult filming “The Devil’s Own.” When Esquire magazine recently asked why, Ford said it was due to creative differences he had with Pitt.
“Heh. Yeah, I remember why,” Ford said. “Brad developed the script. Then they offered me the part. I saved my comments about the character and the construction of the thing—I admired Brad. First of all, I admire Brad. I think he’s a wonderful actor. He’s a really decent guy. But we couldn’t agree on a director until we came to Alan Pakula, who I had worked with before but Brad had not.”
Pakula had previously directed Ford in 1990’s “Presumed Innocent.” In “The Devil’s Own,” Pitt plays a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army who comes to the United States seeking black market missiles. Ford stars as Irish-American policeman in New York City caught between his own ties to the IRA and pursuing Pitt’s character.
“Brad had this complicated character, and I wanted a complication on my side so that it wasn’t just a good-and-evil battle,” Ford said. “And that’s when I came up with the bad-shooting thing.”
In a side plot, Ford’s police character witnesses his partner illegally shoot someone. The incident forces Ford character into a conundrum as he must decide whether to turn his partner in and report the crime.
“I worked with a writer—but then all the sudden we’re shooting and we didn’t have a script that Brad and I agreed on,” Ford said. “Each of us had different ideas about it. I understand why he wanted to stay with his point of view, and I wanted to stay with my point of view—or I was imposing my point of view, and it’s fair to say that that’s what Brad felt. It was complicated. I like the movie very much. Very much.”
Despite the tension, the film turned into a moderate hit for the stars but was hardly a breakout. Variety called “The Devil’s Own” a “reasonably engrossing, well-crafted suspense movie” in its original review.