In "Air Force One," Harrison Ford famously pushes a Russian terrorist out of a moving jet, growling the action movie one-liner, "Get off my plane!" However, if Hollywood history had gone a different way, it might not have been Ford's plane at all.

"Air Force One" was one of many action films in the 1990s to employ a "Die Hard" scenario whereby one man takes on a group of terrorists led by a guy with a foreign accent in a single location. Not content to simply be labeled "'Die Hard' on a plane" (like "Passenger 57," "Executive Decision," or "Con Air"), "Air Force" set itself apart from the rest of the pack by being "'Die Hard' on the President's plane." Its premise saw Ford playing President James Marshall, a Vietnam vet who makes a public pledge not to negotiate with terrorists, only to find his own private jet, Air Force One, hijacked by some.

Ford wasn't the first choice to play President Marshall, though. In the summer of 1997, just prior to the movie's release, the actor spoke with The Los Angeles Times, where he related how "Air Force One" landed in his lap only after Kevin Costner passed on it and sent the project his way. Ford told the newspaper:

"This was a script that Kevin Costner originally had and he gave it to me. Kevin knew this was a big commercial movie and his schedule didn't allow him to do it. And he told [the producers] he would let it go only if I could do it. Now Kevin and I are not intimates. I've met him on a number of occasions and I like him very much. And I like him a lot more now because he really threw a winner my way."

From The Plane To The Dutton Ranch

While it's hard to imagine anyone other than Harrison Ford playing an icon like Indiana Jones, the plot and characters of "Air Force One" have a more paint-by-numbers quality to them. It's easier to see how Kevin Costner could have stepped in and made that movie his own. With films like "Field of Dreams" and "Dances with Wolves" — the latter of which won him two Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture — Costner had already cultivated an all-American image, and though he wasn't quite as well-known as Ford for being an action hero, producers might have leveraged both those sides of him to make President James Marshall a more unassuming yet no less flag-waving protagonist.

Instead of the German terrorist Hans Gruber, played by Alan Rickman in "Die Hard," it's Gary Oldman's Russian baddie, Egor Korshunov, who serves as the main antagonist for President Marshall in "Air Force One." While pitting Costner against a stock villain like this could have worked, by the mid-to-late 1990s, he was entering a bit of a career slump. At the time of its release in 1995, Costner's "Waterworld" was the most expensive movie ever made, and it failed to recoup its full production and marketing budget at the box office, only later becoming profitable on home media.

What's interesting is that Costner appears to have passed up "Air Force One" so that he could make "The Postman," which outright bombed at the box office. Ford, meanwhile, had gotten his pilot's license in real life in 1996, so he was ready for the air, both on and offscreen. Decades later, both Costner and Ford would have a place in the TV same lineage as members of the Dutton family in "Yellowstone" and "1923."

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