Today, you might be skittish at the prospect of Harrison Ford in the cockpit of a 747, but 20 years ago this week, on July 25, 1997, we all felt reassured to have Ford not only in command of "Air Force One," but also serving as the President of the United States.
Wolfgang Petersen's action thriller was another box office smash for Ford, another great villain role for Gary Oldman, and -- despite unfortunate echoes in later real-world events -- a fun popcorn ride that audiences have enjoyed revisiting for two decades.
Moviefone found out a lot of surprising facts about the movie on its 15th anniversary. Five years later, we found a few more surprises long packed away. Here's what else you didn't know about "Air Force One."
1. How realistic is the movie's version of the president's plane? Much of it came from the educated guesses of screenwriter Andrew Marlowe and director Petersen. "There weren't any blueprints or floor plans available," Petersen told Entertainment Weekly, "so we had to watch CNN to see what the inside looked like."
2. Ford and Bill Clinton were pals, close enough for the then-president to be an occasional visitor to Ford's Wyoming ranch. Nonetheless, when it came to portraying the fictional President James Marshall, "I didn't base my performance on President Clinton or on any other President, living or dead," the actor insisted to EW.
3. In addition to the rented 747 that played the title aircraft, Columbia Pictures paid for the use of several Air Force planes, along with their pilots.
4. To obtain the Air Force's approval and the use of its jets, the filmmakers had to submit the screenplay to the military for approval, which is standard procedure for studios seeking the equipment and cooperation of the armed services. Fortunately, the Air Force found itself depicted in a flattering light.
5. Marlowe never did get White House approval for his scenario suggesting that it wouldn't be all that hard for hijackers to take control of the president's plane. But Ford did get permission from Clinton to tour the real Air Force One, along with Petersen and the film's cinematographer and production designer. So at least they got the decor right.
6. Some elements, however, were strictly fantasy. A key sequence takes place on the cargo bay, for instance, even though the real plane doesn't have one. It also doesn't have a presidential escape pod; Marlowe got the idea for that from a similar feature on the presidential plane in the movie "Escape From New York."
7. Like his character, Ford knows a thing or two about piloting planes. But could he actually fly the 747 used in the film? Asked that question by EW, he recalled Sean Connery asking him a similar question in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," telling the magazine, "As Indiana Jones said to his father when he was asked if he could fly: 'Fly? Yes. Land? No.'"
8. The paint job on the faux Air Force One was so good, even with the simulated bullet holes, that visitors who saw it parked at Los Angeles International Airport mistook it for the real thing. So did two F/A-18 fighter pilots, who detected the unexpected plane in the sky and scrambled to intercept it. Fortunately, they were able to confirm that it was just a massive movie prop, and they returned to base.
9. To make the zipline sequence look real, the filmmakers had an MC-130 transport plane fly 4,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, trailing a cable. The 747 at the other end would be added by computers in post-production. The filmmakers did try to use a dummy, nicknamed Felix, to pass as a passenger on the zipline, but his necktie and jacket blew off, and the pilots were worried that his clothes would keep flying off and get sucked into an engine. So Felix was grounded, and the passengers were added in post-production as well.
10. The Russian prison in the film is actually the Ohio State Reformatory, the same decommissioned prison where Frank Darabont filmed "The Shawshank Redemption."
11. During their climatic confrontation in the communications center of the plane, Ford told Oldman to really slap and hit him. So, yup, that's Oldman really beating up Indiana Jones.
12. All four branches of the U.S. military surprisingly cooperated with the production's needs, which is unheard of.
13. Glenn Close as the Vice President was a last-minute casting decision, one personally championed by Ford. Close wore a wig from her personal collection for filming, as her hair at the time was too short. She also requested a change to the script: She didn't want her character to breakdown and cry during a key sequence. A great choice on her part.
14. Ford lobbied the MPAA hard to appeal the film's R-rating in an attempt to get a PG-13. But the ratings group refused. The actor decided to go this route having had success before with his second Jack Ryan movie, "Clear and Present Danger," scoring a PG-13.
After making a speech in Moscow vowing to never negotiate with terrorists, President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) boards Air Force One with his family (Wendy Crewson, Liesel Matthews) and advisers. When a group of terrorists led by Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman) hijacks the flight, the President's principles are put to the test. Feigning escape, ex-solider Marshall stows away in the aircraft and must race against time to rescue his family and everyone else on board. Read More