Who knew that archaeology is enticing and archaeologists can be desirable men before Indiana Jones? It took a series created by George Lucas, directed by Steven Spielberg and screen presence of Harrison Ford for us to start drooling over hidden chambers and ancient languages.
Indiana Jones Franchise is one of the most successful American media franchise which had a successful run both as film series and TV series. The series also ventured into comic books, video games and novels.
We have collected 30+ lesser known interesting facts about the series. Some of which might not be known to even the most devoted fans. Enjoy!
Indiana Jones crew once had epidemic of food poisoning
Sean Connery and Harrison Ford are both naked during the entire Zeppelin scene of The Last Crusade because the studio was so hot that sweating was ruining the takes.
The original name of the lead character was Indiana Smith. His name was changed to Indiana Jones on the first day of production. His true name is revealed in The Last Crusade to be Henry Jones Jr.
An open casting call was put out to elementary schools to find a young Asian actor to play Short Round in Temple of Doom. Jonathan Ke Quan only attended as moral support for his brother who was actually auditioning, but the casting director was so impressed with how Jonathan was coaching his brother that he was offered an audition too.
Ford felt compelled to do his own stunts for the original trilogy because he felt that films were very action oriented and if he wasn’t in the heart of it, there was no reason for him to be there. He sustained several bruised ribs from the scene where he’s dragged by a jeep in Raiders of the Lost Ark but said that “if the stunt was dangerous, we wouldn’t have done it.”
Ford initially didn’t want Sean Connery cast as his father in The Last Crusade because Connery was only 12 years older and the father/son relationship wouldn’t be believable. In the end he enjoyed working with Connery immensely.
Ford requested that more jokes be made about Indiana’s age in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull because he thought it would reduce America’s paranoia with aging. He also refused to dye his hair for the role because his “ambition in action is to have the audience look straight in face and not the back of a stuntman’s head.”
In Temple of Doom Indian actor D.R. Nananyakkara did not speak a world of English and delivered his lines by phonetically copying Spielberg while the camera was rolling. The pauses in his scenes are him waiting for Spielberg to say his next line.
While filming the snake scene inside the Well of Souls in Raiders of the Lost Ark, a python bit assistant director David Tomblin and wouldn’t let go. He calmly asked someone to grab the python by the tail, even though it was still attached to his hand, and whip it away. It worked and both Tomblin and the python survived.
In The Last Crusade Indy mentions a philosophy class taught by a Dr. Tyree. This is a reference to real life Dr. Tyree who was Harrison’s mentor in college.
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the only film in the franchise to not be nominated for an Academy Award, let alone win one. Raiders of the Lost Ark won four: Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects, Temple of Doom won one: Best Special Effects, and The Last Crusade won one: Best Sound Effects Editing.
Ford scared Spielberg during Temple of Doom when he ran out across the rope bridge to test it’s safety. Spielberg later said “What can I say? Harrison really IS Indiana Jones.”
To create the sound of thousands of snakes slithering in Raiders of the Lost Ark sound designer Ben Burtt recorded himself sticking his fingers into a cheese casserole.
Steven Spielberg went on record to say that he made The Last Crusade for two reasons: to fulfill a three-picture obligation with George Lucas and to atone for the backlash he received for Temple of Doom.
Harrison Ford was adamant that he would use Indy’s whip in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, despite the fact that Paramount wanted the whip to be computer generated because of new safety rules. Ford won the argument.
The rope bridge used during the final fight scene of Temple of Doom was actually suspended hundreds of feet across a gorge. Spielberg was afraid of heights and never walked across it, opting to drive a mile-and-a-half to the other side of the bridge for filming. Ford, on the other hand, would run across it at full speed.
Despite having both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg attached to the project, every studio in Hollywood initially turned down Raiders of the Lost Ark. Only after much persuasion did they convince Paramount Pictures.
Harrison Ford actually outran the boulder in the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The scene was shot twice from five different angles and in one take Ford stumbled and almost fell. Spielberg thought it looked realistic and left it in.
Security for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was very tight to prevent leaks so the cast had nicknames for their daily call sheets. Harrison was “#”, Cate Blanchett was “Mean Girl”, and Karen Allen was “The Damsel”.
Harrison Ford suffered a back injury while filming Temple of Doom and had to be flown back to LA for an experimental disc operation. While he was away Steven Spielberg used Vic Armstrong, a British stuntman, as a fill in. The two looked so similar that members of the crew kept confusing them. When Ford returned he continued to do his own stunts and filmed closeups of scenes he’d missed.
Raiders of the Lost Ark was originally given an R-rating because of the exploding head at the end of the film. Producers didn’t want the rating so they added layers of fire to the actor’s face in post-production to make the scene less graphic.
For the rat scene in The Last Crusade the producers asked their insurance company whether they were insured if the animals were unable to perform due to illness or accident, as one lost day of filming could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the end the insurance company wrote the world’s first insurance policy with a 1000 rate deductible, though 1000 mechanical rats were also used in the scene.
Indiana Jones was voted the second greatest hero of all time by the American Film Institute. The first is Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird.
During the runaway mine cart sequence of Temple of Doom Kate Capshaw got a black eye. The next day on set everyone else showed up with a black smudge under their eye.
Indiana never loses his hat in Raiders of the Lost Ark as an homage to classic serials of the 1940s where heroes’ hats stay on their heads no matter what happens. This was done because it was considered poor taste for a gentlemen to be hatless, even in a movie.
In 2014 director Steven Soderbergh published an experimental black-and-white version of Raiders of the Lost Ark with the soundtrack and dialogue replaced by an electronic soundtrack. His intention was to encourage audiences to focus on Steven Spielberg’s extraordinary staging and editing.
Indy’s jacket and fedora are both on display at the Smithsonian Institute.
The dress Kate Capshaw wears in the Shanghai club scene of Temple of Doom was made out of original beads from the 1920s and 1930s and was a one-of-a-kind so everyone was very cautious around the piece. In one scene the dress was drying out out on a tree but an elephant on set noticed the beads and accidentally ate the back of the dress. Emergency repairs had to be made before filming the club scene and costume designer Anthony Powell had to indicate on the insurance forms that the dress was “eaten by elephant”.
The scene where Indiana shoots a swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark was not originally in the script. Indy was supposed to use his whip to take the sword out of the swordsman’s hands but when Ford and the rest of the cast got food poisoning he wasn’t able to perform the cast. After several unsuccessful attempts at the stunt Ford gave up and asked to just “shoot the sucker”.
The four horses used in the final scene of The Last Crusade were loaned to the film by King Hussein of Jordan.
In a deleted scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark Sallah is confronted by a Nazi soldier. John Rhys Davies, who was suffering from cholera at the time, had to bend over in the scene and he promptly sh*t himself.
The python used in Temple of Doom was brought to Sri Lanka for filming by animal handler Michael Culling but the animals weren’t welcome in the country so he booked them their own hotel room under the names Mr. and Mrs. Longfellow.
During filming for Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford’s wife at the time, Melissa Mathison, came to visit him on set. Spielberg pulled her aside to talk over a story idea he had and the two wrote the script for E.T. the Extra Terrestrial during breaks on set.
For the scene at the Nazi rally in The Last Crusade Spielberg asked all the extras who did the Nazi salute to put their other arm behind their back and cross their fingers.