Over the last few years I have interviewed some people that were in one or more Indiana Jones movies. All of these interviews will be published seperately on this website, but I thought it was a good idea to combine the Indiana Jones parts of all these interviews to form one big Indiana Jones special.
So, here it is!
How did you get the role of Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark? Can you tell us how you experienced the casting?
Steven Spielberg had seen me in a movie called A Small Circle of Friends. He also knew the director John Landis for whom I had done the movie Animal House for. I originally auditioned with Tom Selleck who was supposed to play Indiana Jones but then couldn’t do it as he had to do Magnum P.I., the TV series in which he had the starring role. I then had an audition with actor Tim Matheson. Now, they had their ‘Marion’ but no Indy! Eventually, Harrison got the role.
Can you share some of your memories regarding working with Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford?
Harrison was the seasoned actor. He had done two Star Wars movies at that time and knew what it was to be in a movie like Raiders of the Lost Ark; full of effects and large sets. I had never done a movie like this so he told me how it all worked. Steven is a director that really knows what he wants from his actors. He exactly knows how he wants everything to be which is something most directors don’t know.
In Raiders of the Lost Ark you did a scene with a lot of real snakes. How did you experience this scene? Was it tough and did the whole situation scare you?
No, it didn’t scare me as I am not afraid of snakes. However, I am afraid of spiders, even to this day. The scene with Alfred Molina in the beginning of the movie is something I could never do as they really scare me, especially the big ones!
Can you tell us about some funny or strange things that happened on the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark?
Steven Spielberg once saved a snake. Two of them were fighting and one got bitten. Steven took the snake and put it in a cool place. After a few days the snake had healed and was able to ‘play’ again. Another snake died during the scenes we filmed at Elstree. In one scene, where Harrison is climbing the statue in the Well of Souls he touches a snake that is hanging there and falls down. That snake had died a few days earlier and was decomposing. It fell down and splattered all over the place. A classic scene was where a swordsman confronts Indiana on the marketplace. The guy that played the swordsman didn’t know how to use a sword. And then Harrison just said let’s shoot him. (starts to laugh heavily)
What was your inspiration for the role of Marion ? Did you look at other roles or actresses and their characteristics to portray the role of Marion?
No, the part was wonderfully written by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. She establishes herself early in the movie as a tough woman in the drinking game. I didn’t look at other roles and it wasn’t necessary to get inspiration elsewhere as there was really no need to.
After Raiders of the Lost Ark you weren't cast for the next two Indiana Jones movies. How did you feel about this? Did you ever get an explanation and would you have loved to reprise your role?
I knew from the beginning I wasn’t going to be in the next one. Steven told me he wanted to do three movies and go backwards in time. The other two movies are set before Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The Last Crusade takes place after Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Well, Steven always said the other two would take place before Raiders of the Lost Ark. To be honest I have seen The Last Crusade just once, and that was a long time ago. It was also that it becomes clear in Raiders of the Lost Ark that Marion and Indiana have a past that goes back ten years, so even if Marion had been in another movie we would have gotten to see her at age sixteen or something like that. And that is too young for me to play.
(Editor's note: the chronological timeline is The Temple of Doom, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Last Crusade)
Well then, have you ever been contacted for a part in Indiana Jones Part 4 which will be released in 2008? There are rumors that Indiana will have a son in this movie, maybe Marion is the mother. So, you could be in that one since it is said it will take place in the fifties.
Yeah, I have heard those rumors too. I haven’t been contacted or anything, but I would be interested in playing the role of Marion again. Of course!
(Editor's note: This interview took place in May 2007 when Karen wasn't cast for Indy 4)
What do you regard as the cinematic highlight of your career?
That’s really hard. I guess it’s a movie called Glass Menagerie. It was directed by Paul Newman and stars John Malkovich and Joanne Woodward. We all went to the Cannes filmfestival which was quite an experience.
Click here for the full Karen Allen interview
What are the chances we will see you in Indiana Jones Part 4? Have you been contacted?
(Editor's note: This interview took place in November 2006 when there was little known about the casting for Indy 4. In the end, John didn't get a part in it)
The last time I spoke with Steven Spielberg he did mention Indiana Jones 4, but that was back in 2003. The fans know as much as I do. They should make it as quick as they can, because some characters are getting a bit old (laughs).
Harrison, George and Steven are not in it for the money, they do it because they believe it can become one of the greatest movies ever.
I cannot say that I will be in it. I was in it in one of the last scripts however. If they would ask me and I will still be able to walk, ride a horse and do my thing. I would be delighted to reprise my role as Sallah.
You have worked with Steven, George and Harrison on various occasions. How were they to work with?
I admire these men. I think they are giants in their own way. Harrison is the most successful post World War II American actor. He has the rugged look that women like. He is not the pretty boy that come and go and have short successful spells. He has the determination and the talent to turn the opportunities that he had into great roles. He had the good fortune and the judgment to create three big movie franchises (editor’s note: Star Wars, Indiana Jones and two Jack Ryan movies: Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger). Add to this the great first class performances and I can say that my respect for Harrison grows with every movie that he makes. He is a real magnificent old fashioned film star.
Lucas is a puzzle, isn't he? It is because modern cinema owes more to George Lucas than to any other single person. Just because the input that he has given to the technical side of filmmaking. Personally I am disappointed with the last three Star Wars movies. I think that it has taken him a long time to get his youthful stuff out of the way. Now that he has finished that I think he is on the verge of creating something new, exciting and original.
He is a man of great creative, imaginative and directorial substance. If George's career was to end now we would all have a sense of disappointment. His friends would say he is a very generous and supportive man, and that would be right. I think that his genius is such, that when we look at his career the best is yet to come.
Spielberg is a giant. He can do with film what few directors in the world will ever be able to do. He is one of the two or three best directors of all time.
Who are the other two?
I think Peter Jackson has a claim. I don't want to comment on the third because there are directors that do brilliant things and you hope they can continue doing that with consistency. I think that Man on Fire directed by Tony Scott had the best direction I have seen in the last years as well as a wonderful performance. Denzel Washington is another real old fashioned Hollywood star. The new Poitier.
Back to Indy: did any strange or funny things happen on the set?
(Immediately starts to laugh) Too many. My favorite was the first one when we had the big fight with Indy and the flying wing. The intention was that the fire would start, put it out, and take another shot before the explosion. We had the Tunisian fire brigade carefully laying out their hoses in the desert. When Steven said “put out the fire and have another go” the hoses were leaking and just a few drops came out. They kept the cameras rolling because otherwise we would have nothing. It was the funniest thing you had ever seen.
In The Last Crusade Sean Connery joined the cast. What influence did he have on the cast and crew?
I think that he and Michael Caine are the best stars of their generation despite not being the most talented ones. Peter O'Toole was more brilliant for example. Some had a lot of potential but didn't survive because of drugs, alcohol or something else. Connery and Caine were very good at what they did, kept practicing and the last man standing wins the prize. When you add a star to a cast that is already state of the art, you expect fireworks.
Harrison is a competitive man and Connery is not known for being not competitive. They were smart enough to know what they needed to do to make that third film work. I think it was an explosive mixture that worked perfectly. They got the best out of eachother and the film often takes it's tone from the leading actors. This, of course, is less the case with a charismatic director like Steven Spielberg. He contributed wonderfully and made the whole thing marvelous.
John's full interview (in which he talks about his role in The Lord of the Rings) will be online soon
The power of your role in Raiders of the Loat Ark was the fact that you played Colonel Dietrich in a very serious way, while often Nazis are being portrayed as caricatures. Did you do this on purpose? And where did you get your inspiration?
Even though it takes place before the second World War and Hitler is around I do not think my character is specifically a Nazi. I played it as an officer who had a job to do and happens to be German. I know what I want, the Ark, and I do my best to get it. And yes, I do it ruthlessly, but with less violence as our hero: Harrison Ford. Do you see me kill people? You
probably know the movie better than I do! (laughs)
Well, in the scene where you are sitting in the car at the marketplace you
throw a melon and we hear a dog squeak.
No, there was no dog. Some vendor handed me the melon and I didn't know what to do with it!
They may have added that sound in then.
Yes, you see? They make me look bad!
Well, what is one dog compared with a load of dead Nazis?
Yes, it is all in the mind of people and the way the movie is edited.
Still, the fact that everyone thinks that you may have done some killings is the power of your performance. Just as your obsession with the Ark.
Like everybody else was obsessed!
Can you tell anything about the making of the movie and the atmosphere on the set?
One of the producers, Robert Watts, who did Star Wars as well, was so caring about the actors. I remember that when I came from the submarine he was making sure that I came safely from the boat. Generally the atmosphere was fantastic. In every department there were the best people, like Steven Spielberg.
How was he to work with? He is often considered to be the best director ever.
Visually yes. I have no complaints. He saw the character slightly different. He wanted more on the edge. We talked about it on the plane and he was ok with the way I played the role. He told me he was pleased with my performance on the last day of shooting.
You also had some scenes with Harrison Ford. How was he?
He was very good, rocksteady. Very much out of reality in every scene, that was very good. George Lucas, who sees everything on the set, was there when a scene with Harrison and a horse was filmed. It was beautiful and looked like magic when we saw it on the screen.
What was your initial feeling when you got cast?
It was great since a lot of people wanted to be a part of it. I was nervous because you never know what they want. Spielberg had a very good name, and he was nice when we first met. He told me he had seen me in Stanley Kubricks Barry Lyndon. I think it was that movie on which he had decided that he wanted me to play Colonel Dietrich. So, I never auditioned in the form of a reading or something like that.
What is your best memory regarding Raiders of the Lost Ark?
(Thinks for a very long time) It's a very difficult question because everything is different and valuable. It's on the television every Christmas. Well, not last Christmas, but the year before. It was a masterpiece, and everyone seems to love it.
Did you ever expect that Indiana Jones would become such an icon in the history of cinema?
I have met people that have seen Raiders of the Lost Ark no less than seventeen times in the cinema, but that was after the movie was shot of course. No, you do your job and don't think about these things. It all felt like it was going to be a good movie. The cast and crew was good and you knew you were in good hands.
Wolf's full interview will be online soon
Can you share some of your memories regarding Raiders of the Lost Ark?
I played many Arabs in that one. You can also see me at the truck that carries the Ark of the Covenant and gets taken over by Harrison Ford. He begins to wipe out all of us as we played Nazis. I was the one that gets hit by a tree as I try to climb along the side of the truck. I also got shot a lot of times in that movie, again playing a Nazi. I also doubled for Anthony Higgins (Gobler) who gets hit and tumbles over a cliff. To this day Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of my favorite movies. I had to work hard for two months in the heat of the desert. In that time it was quite something to work with Steven Spielberg as he was quite enthusiastic. It was also very funny seeing the big guy with the sword getting shot by Harrison. It was great being there.
Paul's full interview (in which he talks about his role in Star Wars) will be online soon
What did you do in the three Indiana Jones movies you were in?
I'm the guy that paints the sign on the crate that carries the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It may seem simple, but Steven Spielberg was really watching it close. In Temple of Doom I did the diamond kicking. It was just a job, but the timing had to be precise. There was a band, lots of people running around, and I had to find and kick the diamond. You had to be careful not to step on a finger or fall over. Frank Marshall directed it and wanted it to look like you were really panicking and tripping it accidental. In The Last Crusade I was a Nazi official. It was the last time I have played with Harrison and I haven't seen him since.
How was he on the set?
He's very quiet. I'm not sure if it's shyness. He's not an actor that gets on the sets and attracts all the attention. They always say he's the worst person to interview because he won't say anything. He's a very good person and nice to work with.
How was it to work with Steven Spielberg?
He's probably the best director you can get. He talked with everybody and is the only director I have ever seen that didn't get angry. The camera crew said that he was always two shots ahead.
Did any funny or strange things happen on the set?
On Temple of Doom Steven Spielberg was wearing a tie around his head. We all were wearing suits in the opening scene and he tied his tie around his head as a joke.
Barrie's full interview (in which he talks about his role in Star Wars) will be online soon
You were in two Indiana Jones movies: Raiders of the Lost Ark, in which you played Abu and Temple of Doom; in which you did the stunts for Jonathan Quan (Short Round).
What was the most dangerous stunt you had to do?
Yes, I remember stunt doubling Jonathan Quan when he was just a boy. It was a pleasure to double him and one stunt I remember doing was not dangerous but difficult to do. I had to climb a cave wall in the studio. The walls were made to be wet so it was slippery and on top of that it was cold so to grip the holds was difficult as I kept slipping but still managed to climb up. Even with safety equipment it was still difficult.
Click here for the full Kiran Shah interview
In the late eighties you featured in another LucasFilm production: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In this movie you played a German soldier. Can you tell us in which scenes you played?
I was involved in the film's penultimate scene, the chalice scene, in which myself and two other actors rousted Indy (Harrison Ford) over to Walter Donovan (Julian Glover) before he had to collect the chalice. I'm standing just behind Harrison Ford and Sean Connery with my rifle trained on them.
And can you tell us more about making this movie? Did anything strange or unusual happen on the set, for instance?
We had a few surprise celebrity visitors turning up on set.
Michael Jackson visited with his friends and bodyguards to see Steven Spielberg. There were only a handful of actors and crew on set, including Sean Connery. Michael came up to us all, shook hands and introduced himself.
Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) was another visitor I remember - he was very funny and I enjoyed talking to him.
During the filming of the chalice scene, a surprise was arranged for Harrison Ford as it was his birthday. A very large cake was brought onto the set and we sang Happy Birthday to Harrison. He looked very surprised and embarrassed, but enjoyed sharing the cake with us all.
I sometimes collect autographs and thought it would be a good idea to bring a book on George Lucas' films to the set and get it signed. I managed to get George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Denholm Elliot and John Rhys-Davies to sign this book. It is a treasured possession.
I talked quite a bit to George Lucas about working on the first Star Wars movie, and how much I enjoyed the experience. He remembered me from it and was very nice to me.
Derek's full interview (in which he talks about his roles in Star Wars) will be online soon
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Below: Me, standing on the exact same stairs that scene was filmed: the City Hall of San Francisco
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