A vehicle to stardom
When the Oscars are presented Sunday, March 5, at the Kodak Theatre, Hollywood’s brightest stars will be shining. Not as celebrated but often as important to the stories told are the vehicles featured in the films. Whether it be to complement a character’s personality or even to serve as an additional character in the film, automobiles are essential to enhancing the action on screen.
A Lincoln Navigator, for example, plays an integral role in the Oscar-nominated film "Crash," a complex story of what happens when several lives intertwine after a carjacking. "Crash" has been nominated for Best Picture and Best Director, and has earned Matt Dillon his first nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
"It’s very important for directors and screenwriters to have the precise vehicle for a film," says Myles J. Romero, manager, Ford Global Brand Entertainment Group. "Having Terence Howard’s character in ‘Crash’ drive anything but a sport utility vehicle like the Navigator, for instance, wouldn’t have had the same impact. And with the wide range of vehicles in the Ford corporate family, it’s easy to match the exact vehicle to a film’s specific needs."
In addition to being cast in films, Ford vehicles are popping up on television. Mustangs and the new Fusion have been featured on Fox’s popular teen drama "The OC." On HBO’s hit comedy "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Larry David’s character has replaced his Toyota Prius with a Ford Escape Hybrid. And on ABC’s "Desperate Housewives," an Aston Martin DB9, Ford Mustang, a Mercury Mountaineer and a Volvo VC50 have been featured.
Josh Hancock knows very well about the importance of vehicle placement in television and films — he’s been an automotive consultant to movie studios and directors for 15 years. "Cars tell you something about the character and add another dimension to them," Hancock says. "If it’s not done right, it throws everything off. With a portfolio as broad as Ford’s, you can have a Range Rover and a Jaguar and a Mustang all in the same film, and it doesn’t look unnatural or as if you’re pushing something."
Henry Ford was the first to establish a relationship with the film industry when he presented Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks with Model T’s almost a century ago. The tradition of matching Ford vehicles with the entertainment industry continues today with Henry’s great-grandson Alessandro Uzielli taking an active role in establishing and maintaining relationships with studios.
Romero says: "Ford Motor Company has been providing stars with cars for as long as the film industry has existed. Whether it’s the Keystone Kops driving Model T’s, James Bond saving the world in an Aston Martin or CIA agent Sydney Bristow in a Ford Escape Hybrid on ‘Alias,’ Ford vehicles have been a part of the entertainment world for nearly a century."
And with a number of films in production now, such as "Mission Impossible 3" and "Diehard 4," featuring Ford cars, trucks and sport utilities, it’s a tradition that is assured to continue for many years.