When Han Solo declared “Chewie, we’re home” in the second trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it brought tears to even most hardened fans. And in another trailer, he thrilled us by declaring, “It’s true, all of it.” But Harrison Ford says both those lines are being wildly misinterpreted.

Though he’s now in his seventies, Ford is cooler than ever. Talking to him, you almost forget all the incredible movies he’s been in. The things he’s seen and done. He doesn’t seem to care, so why should you? It’s not until after shaking his hand and leaving the room that his momentous historical presence takes over. This isn’t just Han Solo, it’s Indiana Jones, it’s Rick Deckard, Jack Ryan, Richard Kimble and a dozen others all rolled into one.

He’s a living legend, so when he tells us there’s more to those lines from the trailers than we realize, we listen.

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“‘Chewie, we’re home,’ is about something else,” Ford told io9 when we asked if this line was referring to the Millennium Falcon. “It’s about [director] JJ [Abrams]’ genius—because it’s preceded with new characters and new stuff, all of which is really intriguing. It’s like walking up to a new house and then you get a glimpse through the window of the new stuff inside. Then ‘Chewie, we’re home’ is the key in the lock that opens the door. To your memories, your emotional memories of the thing. It’s not about Han. It’s not about Han and Chewie. It’s about triggering the memory of the experience.”

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So the role the line plays in the trailer is completely different than how it plays in the movie itself.

And the same goes for “It’s true, all of it”—which seems like a surprising statement, coming from Han Solo.

“By the time you get to the ‘It’s all true’ part of the movie, there’s a big, full story that fills the frame, and it’s not all about Han,” Ford says. “But in the context of Han’s story, you will learn about things that have occurred offstage in the intervening years, which will lead you to an understanding of why he is capable now of saying the things he says.”

Han Solo saying the Force, Jedi and Dark Side are real is not only in direct contrast with the skeptical Han Solo of old (“Hokey Religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid”), it’s in contrast to Ford’s idea of why Solo became such an icon in the first place.

“He offers you the easy way in to the story because he opens the door of irony,” Ford explained. “So you don’t have to be a true believer to get into the story. There’s somebody there representing you saying, ‘What, really? Are you sure? I’m not so sure.’ And that’s what gives you the liberty of being in the church before you really are asked to believe.”

Ford pauses. “I just made that up. Total bullshit. But if you buy that, I’ve got a whole bridge.”

Talking to Harrison Ford, you not only buy that, you buy the bridge and everything else. You also buy that as much as Han Solo and his other characters mean to audiences, they mean something totally different to him.

For example, when asked if he feels ownership towards Solo, especially in light of upcoming movies and novels featuring the character, Ford talks in much broader strokes.

“He belongs to whoever has a use for him,” Ford says. “I always felt that the job of the actor was to identify the utility of the character to the story, and to try and forge an alloy between the character and the story that make each element valuable to the other. What’s the utility of the character in the telling of the story? And what does the story give the character as a platform? Story is always bigger. So what can you do to make yourself useful?”

Ford makes himself useful in The Force Awakens, not only by reprising his role, but by playing a mentor to the brand new characters, like Finn and Rey. Yet this wasn’t something that immediately struck the actor as a good idea.

“My interest was piqued when George [Lucas] first mentioned it. But I really was convinced in stages by, first, the script and to the participation of J.J. and the participation of Larry Kasdan,” Ford says. “The shape it all took—and [then] I was intrigued by it.”


Contact the author at germain@io9.com.