Joan Didion Lived Out the Romance Novel Premise of Hiring a Young Harrison Ford to Renovate Her Malibu Home

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Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

There’s a segment of the new Netflix documentary Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold that really highlights how casually beautiful Didion’s life was during the Malibu years. She once told Tom Brokaw in an interview, “I like the way it feels here,” when he asked about the importance of her beach home, and he apparently wrote her a letter after his return to New York addressed only to, “Joan Didion, Somewhere on Malibu Beach.” And she actually received it. During that time, Didion also hired a carpenter to do renovations and an expansion of her house, and that carpenter happened to be a young, scruffy, and devastatingly handsome Harrison Ford.

“I spent a couple of months there in their house, everyday,” Ford says in the documentary. “First thing in the morning, last thing at the end of every day, explaining why we hadn’t made more progress and how it was going to cost even more money.” The actor explained that he became close with Didion at that time because he was feeling a bit like a lost soul, which is a much more glamorous way to spend your aimless youth than most people could ever imagine. “I think I became their carpenter for the same reason I became their friend. It’s that I was out of my depth, kind of. I didn’t know where I was going, how I got there.”

After we learn Ford was Didion’s carpenter and that he attended her annual Easter party, the documentary transitions into how Warren Beatty had the biggest crush on her and would always plead to be placed next to her at dinner parties. So, if there’s one take way from The Center Will Not Hold, it’s that Didion’s life on the shores of Malibu — where Stephen Spielberg, and “Marty” Scorsese, and Brian De Palma would just drop in — was a total bummer.

Harrison Ford Once Worked As a Carpenter for Joan Didion