George Lucas' Ideas For Indiana Jones Caused No Shortage Of 'Suffering' For Harrison Ford

For someone whose name means "adventure" (to paraphrase the poster tagline for "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom"), I love that Dr. Henry Walton "Indiana" Jones, Jr. is kind of terrible at actually adventuring.

When audiences were introduced to Harrison Ford as the character in 1981's "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark," he initially exuded a sense of debonair and intrigue, casually snatching a gun out of the hand of a treacherous associate with his trusty bullwhip. He even maintains his composure while facing down hordes of tarantulas and grimy corpses in a deadly Peruvian temple. Of course, it all goes to pot the second Indy accidentally sets off a booby trap upon finding the ancient relic he was searching for (a mysterious golden idol), and ends with him running away with his tail between his legs — wait, that's not a tail! — after losing his prize to his sworn enemy.

Indy's luck doesn't improve much over the remainder of the film. It gets even worse in the sequels (and, in the case of "Temple of Doom," prequel), with Indy accidentally poisoning himself, setting off even more booby traps, constantly getting caught by his worst enemies, and, of all things, at one point having to hop into a refrigerator to save his keister from getting nuked. But Indy's bumbling is also part of what makes the character so captivating, as is Ford's willingness to constantly fall down for our viewing entertainment (though, after doing so for over 40 years, one cannot exactly fault him for deciding to call it a day on the franchise after "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny").

Before all that, however, stunts weren't responsible for Ford's suffering as Indy, a person was. And that person was George Lucas.

Stepping out of Han Solo's shadow

The years between the release of "Star Wars: A New Hope" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" saw Harrison Ford star in a string of financial duds, his minor turn in "Apocalypse Now" aside. As such, when director Steven Spielberg and co-writer George Lucas approached him about taking on the role of Indy, the actor was naturally concerned that the rugged archaeologist might hew a little too close to the character he was best known for playing at that stage in his career. I refer, obviously, to the Bellhop in "Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round." (*Checks notes*) Er, Han Solo.

"I thought [the 'Raiders' screenplay] was wonderful," Ford told Empire Magazine back in 2002. "The only question I had in my mind about it was that, because both 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'Raiders' were written by Lawrence Kasdan, there was some similarity in the characters." Spielberg agreed with him and the duo went about paring down "the kind of snappy, hip dialogue which belonged to Han Solo," instead portraying Indy as a hero who tends to be a tad too big for his britches. This also moved him further away from his original inspiration: the suave, martini-shaking, super-spy James Bond (though the pair still have a fair deal in common).

As for Indiana's iconic — yes, we're pulling out the big guns — getup (brown leather jacket, khaki shirt, wide-brimmed fedora), that was all Lucas' doing, Ford said. He added:

"It's a strange thing, but George had some concept drawings made maybe two years before there was any thought of me doing the part. They were by an artist named James Steranko, and if you look at them alongside stills from the film, it's very striking, the similarity between the two."

Clothes make the man (uncomfortable and hot)

Snazzy it might be, Harrison Ford soon realized there was a major downside to Indy's outfit after filming began on "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in countries like Tunisia. "George [Lucas] insisted on the leather jacket and the wide-brimmed felt hat, even though we were in Tunisia in 120-degree heat," Ford told Empire. "I kept saying, 'Jesus, is there any reason for this suffering?'"

If you know your "Indiana Jones" trivia, then you've no doubt already figured out where this is going. Sure enough, being overheated on set all day while filming in unbearably hot conditions took its toll on Ford. "Well, the main [problem] was dysentery. That'll do it every time!" Ford recalled. "That does spoil a nation for you, to see it from a toilet seat. It was just a very tough location, with all that physical stuff."

Indeed, it was a bout of dysentery that forced Ford, Lucas, and Steven Spielberg to abandon their original vision for Indiana's showdown with a swordsman on the streets of Cairo in the film. Instead of what Ford has described as being "the ultimate duel between sword and whip" (via, the end result was the famous one-off gag where an exhausted-looking Indy casually pulls out his gun and shoots his opponent dead.

Much like Indy, things have a way of working out for Ford, Lucas, and Spielberg, even when their best-laid plans go awry (which is far more often than you might think).