“It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage” —Indiana Jones
It’s hard to make a profession like archaeology look cool, but that’s exactly what George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Harrison Ford did with the Indiana Jones films, and four times over—yes, I liked the fourth one, sue me! Every movie takes you on a wild, non-stop adventure that keeps you at the edge of your seat, and generates the occasional giggle from time to time.
They're the films that made everyone want to be an archaeologist, and made archaeologists claim they were just like Indiana Jones. Here are some facts about one of the greatest franchises, and greatest characters, in film history!
Indiana Jones Films Facts
41. More Money, Please
The budgets for the Indiana Jones films have increased for each subsequent film, going from $20 million to $28 million to $48 million for the first three, respectively, but it was the fourth one that blew all those budgets out of the water. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had a budget higher than the first three films combined at a whopping $185 million dollars.
Filmmakers aren’t shy about putting their children in their films. Judd Apatow has done it, Kevin Smith has done it, and Spielberg is on that list as well. For the diner scene in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Spielberg cast his daughter, Sasha Spielberg, as the girl who punches Mutt in the face.
39. Kept Under Lock and Key
Worried that movie theatre employees would try to sneak an early viewing of the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the film was sent to cinemas with a lock on it, and the combination wasn’t given until the release date.
38. Did I Say That Out Loud?
When the fourth Indiana Jones film was announced, there was no set title, but six names were registered with the Motion Picture Association of America: The City of Gods, The Destroyer of Worlds, The Fourth Corner of the Earth, The Lost City of Gold, and The Quest for the Covenant. But it was none other than Shia Labeouf who revealed the actual title at the 2007 VMAs.
37. Creative Differences
Before screenwriter David Koepp’s script for the fourth Indiana Jones movie was ultimately chosen, Academy Award nominated filmmakers Frank Darabont and M. Night Shyamalan each wrote a script as well. Darabont revealed in an interview that Spielberg was a fan of his script but George Lucas was not, which lead to Darabont leaving the project. However, Darabont’s script, titled The City of the Gods, is available online to read, so you can check it out and see what could have been!
36. I’d Rather Stay at Home
Sean Connery was asked to reprise his role as Indy’s father for a cameo in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but turned it down because he was enjoying his retirement from acting, and he saw the role as being too minor.
35. First I’m Hearing of This
Karen Allen, who played Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark, didn’t even know she was being considered for the fourth film until Spielberg called her to tell her they were making another Indiana Jones movie and she’s was in it.
34. Ending the Streak
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull holds the unfortunate distinction of being the only Indiana Jones film to not receive an Academy Award nomination.
33. Don’t Forget About Me
Various actors have appeared in multiple Indiana Jones movies, but Ford is the only one to appear in the first three except Pat Roach. If you’re having a hard time remembering who Roach played, it’s probably because he was a different character every time, and even played two characters in Raiders of the Lost Ark. His streak ended with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as he passed away four years before the film was made.
Sign up to our newsletter.
History’s most fascinating stories and darkest secrets, delivered to your inbox daily. Making distraction rewarding since 2017.
32. Tone It Down
The first cut of Raiders of the Lost Ark was given an R rating due to the scene where the Ark of the Covenant is opened. Belloq’s head exploded after seeing what’s inside, which the MPAA deemed to violent for a PG rating. The film was bumped down to a PG rating by putting a layer of fire over all the melting heads.
31. Blending Reality With Fiction
The Last Crusade incorporates the real scar on Ford’s chin into the character of Indiana Jones by explaining how the character got it, and it’s done in a similarly clumsy, but arguably cooler, way. Ford got the scar when he tried putting on his seatbelt while driving and crashed his car into a pole. In The Last Crusade, a young, inexperienced Indy hits himself in the face with his whip, leading to the scar.
30. Hi, My Name Is…
The Last Crusade is the first time in the franchise where Indiana Jones' real name is revealed. Indy’s father, Henry Jones, keeps calling him Junior, and when asked why, states that that is his name, Henry Jones Jr.
29. Man’s Best Friend
After revealing Indy’s real name, his father then adds that their dog’s name was Indiana. Interestingly, that’s how Lucas came up with the name Indiana Jones to begin with, as his dog was also called Indiana.
28. The Name's Jones, Henry Jones
Reportedly, Connery was chosen as Indy’s father in part because Spielberg, who always wanted to direct a James Bond film, wanted the James Bond to be Indy’s dad.
27. Full of Adventures
There is no shortage of adventures that Indiana Jones could go on, which is why there have been multiple ideas generated and many scripts written. Lucas wanted to have Indy explore a haunted mansion in Scotland, and another version saw him head to Africa and battle the Monkey King. The latter even had a script written by Chris Columbus.
26. Imitation Game
Ford helped River Phoenix land the role of young Indy in The Last Crusade after working with him on The Mosquito Coast and seeing how talented he was. To prepare for the role, Phoenix says he watched and imitated Ford directly, rather than imitating Ford’s performance as Indy.
25. Comedic Side
Connery showed he’s quick on his feet while filming a scene for The Last Crusade. When Indy asks Henry how he knew Elsa was a Nazi, Henry responds with, “she talks in her sleep," which was ad libbed by the actor. The line apparently had everyone on the floor laughing, and Spielberg knew he had to put it in the film.
Temple of Doom was supposed to be filmed in India (the locations were even scouted and chosen), but after reading the script, the Indian government found it offensive to their culture. They would only grant the shooting permits if they were given final cut of the movie, but the producers passed and moved to a different location.
23. Split Second Cameo
Dan Akroyd makes a blink and you’ll miss it cameo in Temple of Doom, appearing for 18 seconds as the guy who greets Indy, Short Round, and Willie at the airport and puts them on the plane.
22. Sibling Rivalry
Ke Huy Quan, who plays Short Round in Temple of Doom, stole the role from his brother, who initially auditioned for the part. Quan was in the room at the time and kept telling his brother how to act, so the producers had Quan audition to see what he could do. He obviously landed the part.
21. The Show Must Go on
Ford injured his back while filming Temple of Doom, and had to return back to the United States for surgery. Rather than wait for Ford to be healthy and ready to film, Spielberg decided to carry on and film the conveyor belt fight scene with Ford’s stunt double, Vic Armstrong, but only from behind. When Ford returned, they shot a few takes from front and then edited it all together.
20. Hard Pass
In fact, this shift in tone is the reason why Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, turned down writing the sequel. When he was pitched the story idea, he found it horrible and mean and didn’t want anything to do with it.
19. Connected Universe
There are a few Star Wars references in the first two Indiana Jones films. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, C-3PO and R2-D2 can be seen inscribed on the walls in the Well of Souls, and in Temple of Doom, there’s a bar called Club Obi Wan. Considering Lucas didn’t even want Ford as Indiana Jones because he was already Han Solo in Star Wars, it’s surprising that he would allow any mention of Star Wars in the Indiana Jones movies.
There were a few scenes intended for Raiders of the Lost Ark that never made the final cut, but ended up being repurposed and slightly changed for Temple of Doom, most notably the water raft used as a parachute and the mine chase scene.
17. Monkey See, Money (Won’t) Do
It took the animal trainers forever on the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark to get the monkey to perform the Nazi salute, and in the end they technically didn’t even get it. The monkey isn’t saluting in the film, but instead reaching for grapes that are suspended above its head.
16. Last Resort
Nearly everyone got sick while filming Raiders of the Lost Ark, and at one point all the stuntmen were sick on the same day, so producer Frank Marshall had to step in for the airplane fight scene and play the pilot.
15. One Punch at a Time
When it comes to that fight scene, it was initially intended to be a short fight with only a few punches, but on the day of filming, Spielberg began directing the fight and adding more and more to it until they got the long, finished product.
14. Inches Away
The iconic shot of the cobra inches away from Indy’s face in the Well of Souls was captured by putting a sheet of glass between Ford and the snake. If you pause the shot and look closely, you just barely make out Indy’s reflection in the glass.
13. If at First You Don’t Succeed
The scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Toht appears to be putting together a torture device, but it turns out to be a coat hanger, is actually a recycled joke from Spielberg’s film 1941. It didn’t work in that movie and was cut, but he liked the bit so much that he tried it again in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
12. Food Poisoning
It’s well known that Ford came up with the idea to shoot the swordsman instead of fight him in Raiders of the Lost Ark because he was sick and physically weak at the time. What’s less known is that the entire crew ended up getting sick throughout production of the film while shooting in Tunisia—well, everyone except Spielberg, who only drank bottled water and ate the canned food he brought with him.
11. No Rest for the Wicked
Lucas shared his idea for Indiana Jones with Spielberg when they met up in Hawaii on vacation. Spielberg expressed his desire to make and/or direct a James Bond film and Lucas revealed his idea for a film.
10. Generic Name
The title character was originally called "Indiana Smith," but Spielberg was not a fan of that particular generic last name. He did like the idea of a common last name, though, and Lucas then suggested Jones, which they ultimately went with.
9. A Lengthy Process
Lucas may have presented the film idea to Spielberg in Hawaii, but it wasn’t until later on that they completely fleshed out the character and the film. Over several days, Lucas, Spielberg, and Kasdan got together and recorded their conversations about the film, and there is a 90 page transcript of that conversation available online! It’s a long read, but it’s worth it for any fan of the film and character.
8. Jones With a Moustache
Tom Selleck was originally cast as Indiana Jones, but ended up having to leave the role because he was on Magnum P.I. at the time, and CBS wouldn’t allow him to do the movie. Ford ended up being brought in just before filming.
7. Untitled Indiana Jones Project
It’s been 10 years since the last Indiana Jones movie, and after a lot of speculation, it’s finally been confirmed that a fifth movie will be coming! The release date has been pushed back from 2019 to 2020, but Spielberg claims it will be the next movie he films.
6. More to Come
Disney CEO Bob Iger claims that the fifth Indiana Jones movie will not be the last in the franchise, but will probably be the last for Ford. As for future plans with the franchise, it’s unclear, but Iger is adamant that they won’t recast Ford as Indiana Jones. They want him to pass the torch, and then reboot the franchise in some manner. Whether or not that’s a good idea, only time will tell.
5. Don’t You Hate Pants?
Connery found the filming conditions on the zeppelin in The Last Crusade too hot to handle, and worried that he would sweat too much, so he decided to remove his pants since the shot was above the waist. Ford decided to join him.
4. Whip It!
Harrison Ford nearly quit the fourth Indiana Jones film when he found out that they wanted to make his signature whip CGI. Ford put his foot down and refused, and thankfully got his way in the end.
3. Life Imitating Art
Temple of Doom is a much darker film in contrast to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and there are several reasons as to why the filmmakers decided to go that route. However, Lucas admitted later on that part of the reason why he chose the dark tone was because he was in a bad mood, having gone through a divorce at the time, and he projected his feelings about it onto the movie.
2. Creating a Rating
When Temple of Doom was released, parents were outraged that such a dark, violent movie was only given a PG rating. At the time, there was no rating between PG and R, so Spielberg suggested to the MPAA a middle ground of PG-13—that's how the rating came to be.
1. That’s One Expensive Prank
The cast and crew played a practical joke on Ford during the whipping scene in Temple of Doom. This may sound ridiculous, but try and follow: Barbra Streisand appeared in a dominatrix outfit and began berating and whipping Ford for his films, only for Carrie Fisher to throw herself in front of the whip to protect Ford, finishing with Irvin Kershner stepping into frame to yell at Spielberg about how he films his movies. If it sounds too good to be true, the footage exists on YouTube to prove it!