Harrison Ford Has (Mostly) No Hard Feelings About Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull

Although "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is the most financially successful entry in the series' legacy and initially opened to positive reviews, the fourth "Indy" film has suffered from a troubled reputation from critics and audiences alike ever since. Many felt that the charms that made the "Indiana Jones" trilogy so captivating were largely missing in its fourth sequel. Sure, there was always a bit of a supernatural undertone to Indy's world, but audiences could not suspend their disbelief around a pivotal twist involving ancient aliens. Others loathed the messy use of CGI, and many fans did not accept Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) as the new heir to the "Indiana Jones" franchise. 

As time passes, pop culture has a tendency to "reclaim" or re-evaluate negatively received works of mainstream art; the "Star Wars" prequels were once universally accepted as poor, indulgent filmmaking, but now they have a strong cult following behind them. However, this never quite happened to "Crystal Skull," it is still considered one of the weakest in Spielberg's catalog and a failed attempt at a legacy sequel (a trend that would soon change modern Hollywood).

This year, Ford is finally getting a do-over with "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny," helmed by James Mangold ("Logan," "Walk the Line,"). This fifth installment promises one last ride for the professor, archeologist, and adventurer. It will also serve as a revival of the entire "Indiana Jones" brand, allowing for spin-offs and expanded universe material in the Disney-Lucasfilm era.

This week, Ford sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss all of his recent projects, from his leading role in the "Yellowstone" spin-off "1923," to "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny." In the interview, Ford reflected on the critical response to "Crystal Skull," and shared that he (mostly) has no hard feelings about it, giving us an appropriately "Harrison Ford" response.

'I don't feel it's necessary to address those issues'

"Where are they now?" asked the now 80-year-old actor, coming off a bit stronger than intended. "No. I mean, [the critics] were harsh on it, but what are they doing now? I understand. But those were their rules — not [Spielberg and Lucas'] rules."

What Ford is saying (in his own signature, grumpy Harrison Ford way) is that the critical response of "Crystal Skull" doesn't phase him one bit, and as a professional, it shouldn't — the film that he created with Spielberg and Lucas aligned with their vision. The fans, critics, and audiences who didn't click with the film were simply looking for something different. As an artist, he doesn't feel it is his responsibility to impose on what people think about his work, and by extension, he believes that public consensus over the last film wasn't relevant to him when he decided to return to the character of Indiana Jones in "Dial of Destiny." 

Ford elaborated, saying:

"They were imposing their rules on what the movie should be. I don't feel it's necessary to address those issues. I think that everyone has a right to their opinion. The film was not as successful as we wanted it to be, perhaps. But it didn't create an attitude or a behavior that carried over into this film."

'It isn't the years, it's the mileage'

However, there is one aspect to "Crystal Skull" that Ford agrees was poorly conceived. The fourth "Indy" film is certain to age poorly now that there is a definitive sequel. One issue lies in how frequently the fourth film comments and jokes about Indy's age. Ford was 64-years-old on the set of "Crystal Skull," which was meant to be an end-of-the-road adventure for the character. Little did they know that at 80, Ford would still be hungry for another adventure. 

In "Dial of Destiny," the actor made sure they moved away from the tired "old-timer" jokes. "Yeah. In 'Dial of Destiny' there were a lot of old jokes in the script. We took them all out," Ford explained to THR. "There is a moment where he observes himself in this situation and says, 'What the f**k am I doing in here? But I hate what I call 'talking about the story.' I want to see circumstances in which the audience gets a chance to experience the story, not to be led through the nose with highlights pointed out to them. I'd rather create behavior that is the joke of age rather than talk about it."

Unlike Han Solo, Harrison Ford is actually quite fond of playing Indy. He's always been vocal about this, but one can especially tell by the amount of respect and care he has for the character, creatively. It's easy to be cynical over the prospect of more franchises, but from Ford's perspective, it's understandable why he wants to part with the character on better terms.

"Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" releases in theaters on June 30, 2023.