How Harrison Ford Improved The Old Age Jokes In Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny

"Show me, don't tell me" is a phrase writers hear a lot when they're coming up with scripts. Film is a visual medium, and there is no reason to have someone describe what you're seeing when you can actually see it. It's one of the reasons you hear film critics complain when there is a lot of exposition, voiceovers through a movie, or characters telling each other what is happening. If you let the acting and the visuals explain the situation, you have far more leeway to explore other situations and information through dialogue. 

Hearing people talk about obvious things is frankly, boring. According to a cover story from The Hollywood Reporter (via a feature on THR's website), "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" star Harrison Ford feels the same way. He specifically spoke about it in terms of what the publication calls "obvious age jokes" in the new film. "Dial of Destiny" will be the fifth entry in the "Indiana Jones" franchise and the first one not directed by Steven Spielberg or written by George Lucas, although they both serve as executive producers on the film.

Ford hates 'talking about' the story

Age jokes would be an effortless thing for writers James Mangold (who also directs the film) and Jez and John-Henry Butterworth to put in there. In fact, according to THR, Ford said those jokes were taken out of the final script. He said:

"There is a moment where he observes himself in this situation and says, 'What the f*** 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."

To be fair, it would be hard to keep age-related jokes (whether spoken or shown) out of a film like this. The first "Indiana Jones" film premiered in 1981 when Ford was in his late 30s, and he's now 80 years old. We can no longer divorce real life from film in the age of social media. We have the ability to read about every deal, every life event, and every actor's every move. We've watched Ford age (and goodness, he's done that well) over the years and return to the iconic role of Han Solo in the "Star Wars" franchise after decades. We know he's old, but we also know he's fitter than a lot of 40-year-olds. It almost feels silly to point that out with a line or a joke when circumstances can show it to better effect. 

We all hope to age like Harrison Ford

I like the idea that we'll see Ford's age as Indy in action scenes rather than hear other characters quip about it in the dialogue. Plus, as THR points out, Indy is a practical guy who shot the guy doing the elaborate sword work in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." He'll take the easiest path during his adventures. Obviously, Indy working with his goddaughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) will create enough of a visual contrast between their ages, plus the contrast with his own de-aging in scenes. The addition of any obvious "old man" jokes would be overkill here. 

Going by the trailer, the action we're getting will be a wild ride. He jumps from car to car, rides motorcycles, punches nazis (as one should), fights with a whip, and even rides a horse as well as he does in the Paramount+ series "1923." He rides it over a turnstile in a freaking subway station, and as someone half his age, I certainly couldn't do that myself. Honestly, jokes about being an older actor really don't work that well when the actor can pull off stunts like this. 

"Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" will hit theaters on June 30, 2023.