Harrison Ford's Heroic Legacy Explored in New PEOPLE Special Edition: From Landing 'Star Wars' to His Last Ride as Indy

Harrison Ford takes one last ride as Indiana Jones in the new movie 'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,' in theaters June 30

<p>Paramount/Getty ; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty</p>

Paramount/Getty ; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Harrison Ford has starred in some of the world's most popular movies — and yet he's said he never set out to be a movie star.

“I don’t want to be a movie star,” Ford, now 80, told PEOPLE in 1981. “I want to be in movies that are stars.” 

Ford, a Park Ridge, Il., native, dropped out of Wisconsin's Ripon College to move to Los Angeles in 1964, though it took him close to a decade to break through in the film industry.

PEOPLE's new special edition, Harrison Ford: America's Greatest Movie Hero, is available now wherever magazines are sold.

After working for a number of years as a carpenter to supplement income earned from a contract with Columbia Pictures, the actor met eventual Star Wars creator George Lucas when he was cast in Lucas's 1973 movie American Graffiti.

Though Ford and Lucas had already worked together before Star Wars began searching for its Han Solo, Ford only got the part by happenstance: he was doing carpentry work for Francis Ford Coppola when Lucas and Richard Dreyfuss arrived to read for Solo. Eventually, Lucas asked Ford to read for the part — launching his career to new heights in a galaxy far, far away.

Related: Anthony Mackie Shares First Photo from Marvel Set with Harrison Ford: &#39;How Kicking Ass Should Look&#39;

Ford went on to play Han Solo in all three original Star Wars movies, shocking fans when his character was indefinitely frozen in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back before his rescue in Return of the Jedi's opening sequence three years later. He also reprised the role in 2015's The Force Awakens, which made good on the actor's long-held desire to give Solo a tragic death.

Notably, the actor improvised perhaps the most memorable line of Star Wars' original trilogy: he decided to say "I know," in response to Princess Leia's (Carrie Fisher) declaration of love, though the movie's original script called for a longer line and its director Irvin Kershner simply wanted Han to say "I love you" back.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Star Wars spawned a creative partnership between Lucas and Ford that was fastened further when the filmmaker teamed up with Steven Spielberg for what became the first Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

Surprisingly, Ford was not their first choice for the role: the two visionary filmmakers wanted to cast Tom Selleck, but when Selleck committed to film Magnum, P.I., instead, they turned to Ford, who helped spawn a second iconic Hollywood franchise. Ford reprises the role one last time in his new movie Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

Related: Harrison Ford Says He&#39;d &#39;Probably Be a Better Parent&#39; If He Was &#39;Less Successful&#39;

Jonathan Olley / Lucasfilm Ltd.
Jonathan Olley / Lucasfilm Ltd.

Spielberg's desire to collaborate with Ford did not end with Indiana Jones' adventures. The director filmed a cameo with Ford for his 1982 classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, in which Ford played Elliott's (Henry Thomas) school principal Harold Solo.

In the final cut of the film, the actor's face is obscured from full view, but a sequence was originally filmed that would have shown Ford in full view for a scene with Elliott and E.T. himself.

Ford debuted Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny at the Cannes Film Festival in May, with some critics calling it his "most emotional" performance as the character.

In September 2022, Ford himself got emotional while speaking at the D23 Expo and showcasing footage from the sequel to fans. "Thank you for making these films such an incredible experience for all of us. I'm very proud to say that this one is fantastic," he said.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens in theaters June 30.

For more about Ford, pick up PEOPLE's new special edition, Harrison Ford: America's Greatest Movie Hero, available now.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.