Spielberg & Harrison Ford Talk ‘Indiana Jones 5′, CGI & More

Published 4 years ago by , Updated September 13th, 2011 at 7:46 pm,

indiana jones seven wonders abc Spielberg & Harrison Ford Talk Indiana Jones 5, CGI & More

Last night at at a theatre in downtown Los Angeles (sprinkled with the likes of Damon Lindelof and Simon Pegg) the LA Times Hero Complex hosted a thirtieth anniversary screening of director Steven Spielberg’s beloved homage to the adventure serials of the 1930s – Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The director was on hand for a conversation with Geoff Boucher following the screening, in which he looked back at the creation of what has become one of our culture’s most iconic characters — Indiana Jones. Mid-talk, the two were joined by none other than Indy himself, Harrison Ford, who offered his own insights about Raiders as well as what may be in store for the future of the franchise.

Suffice is to say that both Spielberg and Ford have said they are “hopeful” about an Indy 5, though Ford did give the caveat that he will, “not be going to Mars.”

Details of the conversation will follow below, but first it feels appropriate to reflect that I am probably not alone in being struck by how a film that was (in many ways) born of a sense of nostalgia has now taken a place of not just nostalgic longing, but reverence within the entertainment community.

Many long for, and emulate, the Spielberg films of the late 1970s and early 1980s. This summer alone we have seen several films that were either openly touted as “Spielbergesque” or contained subtle (or in some cases not-so-subtle) references to his films. J.J Abrams’ Super 8 was as direct an homage to Spielberg’s early sci-fi films as Raiders was to the serials it drew from; and Captain America was, in many respects, the Super-Hero version of an Indiana Jones film (not so much in the character, but the construction of the story, and tone of the film).

 Spielberg & Harrison Ford Talk Indiana Jones 5, CGI & More

I must confess that Raiders is just as entertaining, just as much fun to watch today as it was when I was a little girl who insisted on being given her very own bullwhip with which to rangel wayward helpers on the hunt for artifacts. One of the joys of the screening was the untouched quality of the film print, which allowed us to embrace the event for what it was — an opportunity to revisit something from our pasts as it truly was, and/or introduce the film to a new generation without the loss of what it had been. Raiders has been restored, of course, but one of the first points that Spielberg stressed was that he had worked from the original negative and had neither removed nor added anything via the use of CGI.

This naturally led to a discussion about the recent (and not so recent) changes that have been made to the original Star Wars series by the man Spielberg calls his best friend, George Lucas. Spielberg initially forestalled giving his thoughts on the alterations calling it a “hot topic.” He then said that he felt that Lucas was a great director, and noted that if it weren’t for him the we wouldn’t have Star Wars or Indiana Jones. He had already joked that after his (fairly unsuccessful) offering, 1941, the only person who would hire him was his friend, Lucas, for Raiders. Spielberg’s take is that Lucas is entitled to do whatever he wants to with his films, but that his own experiment with remastering had left somewhat of a sour taste in his mouth:

“I tried this once and lived to regret it. Not because of fan outrage, but because I was disappointed in myself. I got overly sensitive to [some of the reaction -- including parents who had been less than pleased with the guns in the film] to “E.T.,” and I thought if technology evolved, [I might go in and change some things]…it was OK for a while, but I realized what I had done was I had robbed people who loved “E.T.” of their memories of E.T.”

Henry Thomas E.T. The Extra Terrestrial Spielberg & Harrison Ford Talk Indiana Jones 5, CGI & More

The director then took a survey of the audience to see who would like to see the original 1982 E.T. released on Blu-ray, sans the inclusion of the digitally remastered version. When the overwhelming response was in favor of reverting to the film we knew from our collective childhoods (puppet warts and all), Spielberg said simply, “Okay, done.”

As far as indelible cinematic memories are concerned, it is hard to imagine anyone other than Harrison Ford playing Indiana Jones, but the truth is that the part originally belonged to Tom Selleck, who had to bow-out due to his commitment to the television series Magnum P.I. During the time that Spielberg was searching for his lead, he was invited to an early, rough-cut screening of The Empire Strikes Back where, as he tells it, he realized he already had his Indy.

“After [the screening of The Empire Strikes Back] was over, I said, ‘We’ve found our Indiana Jones.’ And George said, ‘Who?’ I said, ‘That guy right there, Han Solo.’ And George said, ‘yeah, he’s a great actor, but he’s identified as this character now in Star Wars.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, but he’s an actor! He’s supposed to identify with different characters.’ George had never thought about that, but then he said, ‘yeah, that’d be great’.”

It was more than great. In a time when we often bestow far more significance on childhood properties than they perhaps carry, we can honestly say that Harrison Ford and Steven Speilberg co-created a character that lives in the hearts of a generation, and changed what we wanted to see from our cinematic Heroes.

When the possibility of revisiting Indy via a fifth installment in the franchise was broached, and one enthused fan whooped from the audience, Spielberg (with a tongue-in-cheek understanding of his fan base) quipped “I think that’s the one we didn’t alienate with the fourth” to which Boucher responded (in essence) “I think that’s Shia.”

In truth, the director does seem interested in revisiting the character, and Ford, who eventually said it is a simple and absolute pleasure to play this role and work with Spielberg, seemed more than open to the possibility – though he did say:

“Maybe a fifth, but I ain’t going to Mars. Next time we get a script for Indiana Jones, I’d be delighted to play the character. Each time we meet him, we wanted to advance the audience’s understanding of the character, not just by putting him in adventures, but by learning something about him…that’s what led to the meeting of his father [in The Last Crusade], played by Sean Connery, and his son [in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull], played by Shia, and bringing Marion back.”

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Spielberg & Harrison Ford Talk Indiana Jones 5, CGI & More

As much as Ford expressed an unabashed affection for Jones, he did joke that Spielberg only hires him to play Indy, even though he is an actor. To which Spielberg returned:

“You know who I offered Jurassic Park to? This guy. Alan Grant, Jurassic Park, right here.”

As to a Blu-ray release of the Indiana Jones series, the director said only that it would be coming up, and that as soon as Lucas is done with Star Wars, Indy should be next on the docket.

During the course of their talk, Ford and Spielberg touched on topics ranging from who was truly responsible for the famous “just shoot the swordsman” gag; the connection between Raiders and Spielberg’s upcoming CGI adventure film Tintin (which he refers to as being, “thirty years in development”); Ford’s insistence that Indy feel and express fear (a choice that helped define our concept of a fully-developed Hero); and the state of the industry today — which Ford calls in some ways “soulless.”

The Los Angeles Times will be releasing videos from the event in the coming days, which we will be linking to here, so stay tuned for more from this entertaining and revealing conversation.

A special thanks to Geek Tyrant for the quote transcriptions.

Follow me on twitter @JrothC

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  1. @LJ James – no one is worried about whether or not crystal skulls existed! Everyone just thought the movie sucked plain and simple. No one believed that an evil high priest could rip someone’s heart out and they could live, but the script and story were excellent. In CS things were added willy nilly and didn’t make sense. it was just a terrible terrible film and both Spielberg and Ford should apologize for it

    • I agree with those who say it was not the best Movie but I for one enjoyed it. I think it was a lot better then a lot of other action flicks I have seen as of late. I heard from many it was terrible so I was not expecting much!

      • I for one, greatly enjoyed ALL 4 films. IMO Crystal Skull was an excellent adventure & I Hope Misters Ford, Lucas & Spielberg make More!

      • it could have been better, it wasnt too bad up to the point they were chasing each other on the cliff before they hit the ants but there could have been more of dialog about himself & his past adventures in the movies and what might have happend between the first two movies … but they could have made the movie prettier and more interesting then what it was like the 1st 3 were good

    • Indiana jones movies are the best but the first one is my least favorite.

  2. The original 3 Indiana Jones movies are such a substantial part of my life, I was completely devastated with the fourth movie. If a fifth comes out, I just hope it doesn’t further taint the Indiana Jones legacy. (But I will watch ANYTHING with Harrison Ford in it!) :)

  3. I dont see why everyone is so hard on Shia..

    I thought Shia was a good choice and enjoyed his performance in the film.. at least in all the parts of the movie that weren’t awful…. Shia even apologized for the scene where he is swinging from vines and claimed it was his fault for making it not believable enough… talk about being humble.. that scene was NOT his fault.. (I remember looking over at my girlfriend at that scene in the movie and making a face of absolute disgust.. seriously thinking to myself who writes this stuff?.. oh yea the famed george lucas…) Spielberg should have stood up for his ideas about the script to Lucas if they are truly best friends since he should be able to feel comfortable telling Lucas to change something and convince him otherwise.. since he has since stated he didn’t agree with a lot of the script..

    I would be more than happy to see Shia in indie 5.. since I think he wasnt given a chance to really show what a capable actor he is in the film because the script/movie was pretty awful over all.. he kinda reminded me of young harrison ford even before indie 4…

    I don’t feel the actors are to blame at all for the film really.. lucas, spielberg are to blame here and hollywood for wanting to churn out soulless movies jam packed with cgi..

    although Cate Blanchett as an actress in the film is pretty terrible.. but.. i guess i am not too fond of her anyway & don’t see her as a very good actress.. i think instantly of coffee and cigarettes & the scene with her talking to herself.. or her “cousin”.. and well.. if you see that scene it speaks for itself.. bleh!.. she is just ridiculous in the film & she must have watched too many rocky and bullwinkle episodes as research for her role.. sorry Cate..

    The movie is just too campy.. and the dialog/script seems so thrown together.. as well as the way a lot of the scenes are shot.. you can tell even the actors in the movie are kinda like……… uh… i dont know about this…… which makes it awkward.. most of indie 4 is just throwing random stuff in for the sake of trying to make a film or to add humor which is usually pretty awful writing..

    Makes me think Lucas wrote the script in a day… “add a dry sand pit here.. a snake rope there.. aliens here.. boy swinging from vines with monkeys here..” and.. “GENIUS!” “Oh, George you have done it again!”

  4. Crystal Skull was alright- not half as bad as folks like to think it was. Their is plenty of existant evidence for the Arok of the covenant- and No it ain’t a relic of legend. You can try in ignorance to say its make believe but plenty of non- Hebrew cultures reference it in their histories and the Temple of Solomon, which Mecca is built upon, has the sanctum of the Holy of Holies. The traditional resting place of the Ark. Now whether it is still their, or holds the ‘Power’ of God is up to individual debate. But the relic is certainly not a fabrication. To say otherwise is a blatant act of ignorance or stupidity on one’s part.

    Bring on Indy 5!

  5. pourquoi les harley dans indiana jones 4 on telles des freins a disques je sais que cela ne peux pas changer le sens du film juste pour vous dire que cela fait un peu tache je ne vais pas vous demander de retourner le film

  6. legend of the crystal skulls documentury was pure crap they were faking evidence against it

  7. I agree with Ford’s comment on the industry being ‘soulless’ these days.

    And I would absolutely LOVE another Indy movie! I remember watching them SO MANY TIMES as a kid(starting at about 4). I even had all 3 in my backpack so I could watch them at my grandparents house after school. Harrison Ford is my hero!!!!

  8. Oh Boy!!
    I wish I lived in L.A. and could have been
    at this.

    Saw Mr. Ford here in NY after a screening of Firewall…you know the movie where he killed a guy with a toaster…and he was great.

    Would’ve loved to see him with Mr. Spielberg.

    As for INDY 5, it’d be cool. Just let INDY be the star of the movie this time, please.

    Thanks for all of the wonderful moments and memories.

    DEE W.

  9. Okay, I work all week and mornings on Saturday, so in a nutshell, I tend to drift away from reality whenever possible to relax. The world is a crazier place than it was in my youth back in the 50′s when my imagination ran wild living in the Canal Zone and the jungles that were on all sides. I lived the character we call Indie only the younger. When Raiders was introduced to us in the 80′s, whola… there was my alter ego. Amazing to this day, I still find watching the series ( on blueray now ) just as entertaining as the real thing. It’s a escape folks if only for the moment. Life is real but the adventures of Indiana Jones, no matter what age he gets to, keeps this old farts imagination as young as it gets. Bring it on again, I’ll go in my Fedora but the whip stays with my wife just to be safe.

  10. We can do this. People here who are part of the process please keep up the work.

    • I think its a good idea! I would love to see Harrison Ford do a live action Indy tv show, but that would be maybe too much for him as he is getting older…

  11. I loved the last Movie with the Crystal Skull. It’s my favorite!! I hope they make a fifth one with Harrison Ford and Shia. I sure hope he is in the new Star Wars movies too. As for re-doing E.T. I liked that too (the bathtub scene) but I think they should have took out the bad words. When I saw the most recent viewing on the anniversary, a mother came out saying she was upset her kid had heard the bad words and said it was supposed to be a family film. I agree that the “p” word (male anatomy) and some swearing shouldn’t be in the movie. Was it really necessary in a kid’s movie we all love?

  12. For the fifth Indiana Jones they should make his son older, played by Gerard Butler, and still have Harrison Ford played as the original Indiana Jones. Anyway the main thing is that a lot of people that I know want Gerard Butler to play in Indiana Jones so much.