CANNES, France (Reuters) - Harrison Ford reprises his most famous film role in the new Indiana Jones adventure, and there will be no hiding the fact that he is nearly 20 years older than his last outing as the whip-wielding archaeologist.
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is the hotly anticipated follow up to the original trilogy, which wound up with "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" in 1989.
The question on everyone's lips in Cannes, where the movie has its world premiere on Sunday likely to attract thousands of fans to the glamorous red carpet, is whether Ford still has what it takes to be an action hero aged 65.
Fielding questions from reporters ahead of the first screening of the Steven Spielberg-directed blockbuster, Ford said there would be no attempt to hide his real age.
"We don't handle the age question, we ignore it," he said at the luxury Carlton Hotel on the palm-lined Croisette beach front. "We've moved 20 years deeper into history. We're no longer dealing with Nazis, but we have Russian villains.
"Age has its virtues and it has its disadvantages," he added. "I think we embrace the reality of the passage of 20 years. We're not coy about it."
The story of the Crystal Skull is set in 1957, 19 years on from the third move in a franchise which has made over $1 billion at the global box office in 1980s dollar terms.
Ford teams up again with Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, his love interest in the first film, "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
Shia LaBeouf also stars, and Australian actress Cate Blanchett plays Soviet agent Irina Spalko.
Both Ford and George Lucas, who conceived the story, believed Crystal Skull would live up to the hype.
"We have a degree of confidence that it will be an experience that people will enjoy," said Ford.
Lucas said he was also ready for negative reaction to the new Indiana Jones film.
The creator of Star Wars was unpopular with many fans when he revived the original franchise with the 1999 movie "Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace."
"I explained to Steven when we sat down on this, I said ... when you do a film that's this anticipated, people have a tendency to believe it's going to be the second coming and no matter what you give them they're going to be disappointed.
"We're all going to get people throwing tomatoes at us. But it's a fun movie to make. We love it."
Asked if he, Spielberg and Ford were planning a fifth Indiana Jones movie, he replied: "Harrison, Steven and I haven't talked about it. We can't do it unless I can come up with a good idea, which I haven't."
Lucas said Cannes was the ideal place to re-launch the Indiana Jones brand, with the world's media in town for the film festival which ends on May 25.
But he also feared its notoriously picky critics could give it a rougher ride than elsewhere.
"It's probably a higher risk (critically)," he said.
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