Harrison Ford Turned Down ‘Jurassic Park’ and Five Other Things We Learned From the 30th Anniversary ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ Screening
Posted on Wednesday, September 14th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
This week saw a 30th Anniversary screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark in LA. The screening comes a couple months after the actual anniversary of the film’s release, but Steven Spielberg has been busy; pushing it to this week allowed he and Harrison Ford to take the stage after the screening on Tuesday. Their talk included a few candid bits of trivia that fans of both men might appreciate. One is that Harrison Ford was given a chance to have the lead role in Jurassic Park — a role which eventually went to Sam Neill.
Check out a list of things we learned from the post-screening talk, after the break.
Harrison Ford was offered the role of Alan Grant in Jurassic Park.
Discussing the choice of Harrison Ford for Indiana Jones — originally planned to be Tom Selleck — Spielberg explained it was The Empire Strikes Back that really sold him on Ford as Jones. George Lucas didn’t get it, because he thought of Ford only as Han Solo. Spielberg said “Yeah, but he’s an actor!” Later in the conversation, Ford said of the Indy sequels, “”It’s an absolute delight to play this character and to work with Steven again, who only hires me for Indiana Jones. I am an actor!”
Spielberg was evidently surprised by Ford’s insistence that he’s only been hired to play Indy, saying, “You know who I offered Jurassic Park to? This guy. Alan Grant, Jurassic Park, right here.” At that revelation, Harrison Ford moved the conversation on to a new topic.
Raiders was essentially a paycheck gig for Spielberg.
Asked about how Spielberg sees his career pre-Raiders, he said, “Well, before Raiders I needed a job, because I’d just made 1941 and no one would hire me, except George Lucas, my friend. [laughs] So, yeah, I needed the eggs, you know?”
Even Spielberg thinks George Lucas — who the director says is his best friend — is an uber-nerd.
Asked about how phone calls between he and Lucas go, Spielberg said “I get a phone call, and this is what I hear,” before launching into a spot-on, excessively nerdy caricature of Lucas’ voice. I won’t try to capture it. Check out the video below for the proof. It’s all in good fun, though, as Spielberg says, “the thing with George, when George and I get on the telephone I have to clear my morning or my afternoon, because we talk for a long, long time. The only person I’ve ever talked to at the length I talk to George, believe it or not, is Stanley Kubrick, when we were friends in the ’80s.”
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull seems to embarrass even its director.
Asked about another Indy film, a single cheer goes up in the audience, leading Spielberg to point and yell, “One person wants to see another Indiana Jones movie! The only person in the audience! [...] You know, I think that was the only bridge we didn’t burn because of Indy 4, thank you.”
Both men remain open to a fifth Indiana Jones film.
After cracking that joke about Indy 4, Spielberg said of making another film, “We talk about it, yes. We’re hopeful, someday. We’re hopeful.”
As for Ford, he said, “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, played by Sean Connery, and his son, played by Shia, and bringing Marion back.”
Ford seems to want a fifth film to be more grounded than Crystal Skull.
Asked about doing another Indy movie, Ford seriously said, “Maybe a fifth, but I ain’t going to Mars.”