The Fugitive Director Reflects On Impromptu Harrison Ford St. Patrick’s Day Parade Chase

Summary

  • The Fugitive had a hectic production with many elements devised on the fly, including the memorable Saint Patrick’s Day parade chase scene.
  • Director Andrew Davis reflects on the scene, recalling that there were cameras hidden throughout the crowd and that the City of Chicago didn’t know they would be filming.
  • The Fugitive underwent constant script changes during production and also features a number of improvised lines.


The Fugitive director Andrew Davis reflects on his experience filming Harrison Ford’s improvised Saint Patrick’s Day parade chase. Released in 1993, Davis’ film stars Ford as Dr. Richard Kimble, a man falsely accused of murdering his wife who sets out on the run from a U.S. Marshal played by Tommy Lee Jones. The now-classic film, which had a bit of a hectic production, features a number of iconic set pieces, including a Chicago foot chase that sees Ford blending into the Chicago Saint Patrick’s Day parade to escape police.

In a recent interview with THR to celebrate The Fugitive‘s upcoming 4K Blu-ray release, Davis reflects on how the film’s Saint Patrick’s Day sequence came about. The director touches on how many people involved in the parade actually knew filming would be taking place, further solidifying the movie’s reputation as a production in which many elements were devised on the fly. Check out Davis’ full comment below:

“I wanted to put the St. Patrick’s Day parade in my first movie, Stony Island, which is also being rereleased [on Nov. 17]. But I couldn’t do it because Mayor [Richard J.] Daley died, and so I shot his funeral instead. Now, [on The Fugitive], we had a chase through City Hall, and I couldn’t have it end just with Tommy [Lee Jones’ Gerard] going, ‘Oh my God, he got away.’

“I had to continue [the sequence], and we couldn’t do a French Connection car chase. And so I knew that the St. Patrick’s Day parade was coming and that it would be a perfect and wonderful way to get lost in the fabric of Chicago. We then got the Plumber’s Union to agree to let us get involved in it, and I don’t think the city really knew what we were doing.

“We were so invisible. We had a Steadicam and a couple cameras hidden here and there, so we just joined the crowd and Harrison grabbed a hat and put it on. It was very, very much of the moment and also very cold. And I love the fact that Harrison walks off into the crowd and then the camera pans back to Tommy jumping up and down, still looking for him. So it was wonderful, and to hear the real sound of those bagpipes was fantastic.”


How Much Of The Fugitive Was Reworked On The Fly?

“It was a wild kind of shoot,” Davis told Screen Rant in a recent interview, “because the script was going through changes a lot, and we were trying to make it relevant and up to date, up to the last minute, so it was a wonderful experience. I loved being in Chicago, Harrison and I are both from Chicago, we had a good time digging into the hot dogs in the bowels of the city, and I’m very proud of the movie.”

While The Fugitive is widely regarded as one of the best movies of the ’90s and one of the best roles of Ford’s career, the production was famously quite a roller-coaster ride. The film’s script was constantly being rewritten and reworked during production, and some of the movie’s most iconic lines and moments, including Jones’ “I don’t care” line, were either improvised or devised at the last minute.

Other elements of The Fugitive that were changed at the last minute include the film’s subplot regarding Provasic. According to Davis, this entire drug subplot was originated during filming. “It was a wild kind of shoot,” David told Screen Rant in a recent interview, “because the script was going through changes a lot, and we were trying to make it relevant and up to date, up to the last minute, so it was a wonderful experience. I loved being in Chicago, Harrison and I are both from Chicago, we had a good time digging into the hot dogs in the bowels of the city, and I’m very proud of the movie.

Related: The Fugitive’s Original Villain Would Have Changed A $5.8 Billion Actor’s Career

The Fugitive‘s main villain, too, underwent major changes. While actor Richard Jordan was originally intended to serve as the film’s central antagonist, the actor had to depart the production due to health concerns, with actor Jeroen Krabbé taking on the role. The film also originally included a love story sublot for Ford and Julianne Moore’s character, which was ultimately cut. While a hectic production filled with rewrites and last-minute changes might normally result in a lackluster film, it’s clear that The Fugitive actually thrived from the chaos, ultimately emerging as one of the best thrillers of the ’90s.

An early draft of The Fugitive‘s script features Jones’ Deputy Gerard the main villain, with the character having orchestrated the murder of Kimble’s wife.

Source: THR

  • The Fugitive

    Release Date:
    1993-08-06

    Director:
    Andrew Davis

    Cast:
    Joe Pantoliano, Sela Ward, Julianne Moore, Tommy Lee Jones, Harrison Ford

    Rating:
    PG-13

    Runtime:
    130 minutes

    Genres:
    Action, Thriller, Drama, Crime, Mystery

    Writers:
    David Twohy, Jeb Stuart

    Summary:
    Dr. Richard Kimble, unjustly accused of murdering his wife, must find the real killer while being the target of a nationwide manhunt led by a seasoned U.S. Marshal.

    Budget:
    $44 million

    Studio(s):
    Warner Bros. Pictures

    Distributor(s):
    Warner Bros. Pictures

    Sequel(s):
    U.S. Marshals