A rumor that the role of Indiana Jones will be recast – due to franchise star Harrison Ford now being in his 70s – set the ‘Net ablaze earlier this week, though the fire settled down after conflicting reports from other insiders who’re (allegedly) close to the project indicated that Disney and Lucasfilm have not begun that recasting conversation.

Just as intriguing, arguably, was the news that accompanied the claim that Bradley Cooper is atop the list of contenders to replace Ford as the adventuring archaeologist Dr. Jones – that Frank Darabont (creator of The Walking Dead TV series) has pitched an idea for the next installment.

The three-time Oscar nominated writer/director of Shawshank Redemption and Green Mile fame had written an unused script draft for the fourth Indy Jones movie – one generally considered superior to the final Kingdom of the Crystal Skull script – and even wrote a handful of episodes on the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV series from the early 1990s.

Unfortunately, Darabont has reached out to AICN to comment on (and, in turn, deny) the claims about him being involved with Indiana Jones 5 in some form. That’s not to say there’s no chance of him joining the project as a writer and/or director down the line, but as of right now Darabont says there’s nothing but smoke and no fire (with regard to that rumor).

Here is the exact quote he gave AICN:

“This is an internet rumor with not a shred of truth in it. I have not pitched an idea for a proposed Indiana Jones movie, nor has anybody approached me with such an idea. The inaccurate report on Latino Review was the first I’d heard of it.”

It’s disappointing to hear; Darabont not only has a proven understanding of the Indiana Jones character – different versions that vary from a head-strong young man to a more experienced old globe-trotter – but also a proven appreciation for the old-fashioned serial genre influences that are essential to the series’ DNA. Such knowledge would be useful to have for the filmmaker who ends up chosen to guide the Indiana Jones brand into the future. (Remember, Disney didn’t acquire the full rights in order to just sit on its hands and do nothing with the property.)

Then again, if fans continue to voice their approval of Darabont as the man to take hold of the franchise’s reins at this point, then maybe that’ll inspire the Mouse House and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy to actually make him an offer. After all, nowadays you can never fully count anyone out until the writing’s on the wall. (Remember how J.J. Abrams wasn’t going to direct Star Wars: Episode VII – until, he was?)

As for potential recasting of the Indiana Jones role, that’s another rabbit hole altogether. Producer Frank Marshall, for his money, has reminded everyone that until the news is made official, then… well, it isn’t official, by issuing a sorta-denial (i.e. the kind where he doesn’t clarify the specific rumor he’s commenting on):

Ford has indicated in the past that he remains perfectly willing to headline a fifth Indiana Jones installment, in part because Kingdom of the Crystal Skull helped establish a version of Indy who’s older, wiser, and less reckless (but still a maverick) in movie form. Admittedly, though, that doesn’t rule out the possibility that studio executives have started to discuss recasting the Indy role behind closed doors – nor that they won’t start to, sometime in the near future.

Until further notice, then, Harrison Ford is still the Indiana Jones – and he won’t be back on the big screen anytime before 2016 or 2017, at the earliest.

We’ll keep you updated on Indiana Jones 5 news as we hear it.

Source: AICN, Frank Marshall [via Cinemablend]