The Raiders Of The Lost Ark Boulder Chase Was More Real Than You Think

Indiana Jones has had his share of close calls. Whether it's dodging arrows or Nazis, luck is just as important to him as his trusty whip. The same may or may not be said for Harrison Ford whenever he stepped on-set to play the iconic hero. From tearing his ACL to actually getting punched by co-star Karen Allen, the actor took some hits during the filming of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." 

One hit he luckily didn't take involves the colossal boulder that chases him out of the temple at the beginning of the movie. If there ever was a stunt that could've gone disastrously awry it was this one.  And while it's an absolutely exhilarating scene that's become quintessential to Indy's daring spirit and the palpable danger he often finds himself in, Ford himself was right there with him: risking life-and-limb every time he put on that hat!

Ford Proved He Had Indy's Daring

If Ford really does look like he's running from a 12-foot boulder in that scene, that's because he is. Or at least one made of fiberglass that weighed anywhere from 300 to 800 pounds. In a piece for American Cinematographer, Spielberg gave a detailed account of the effort that went into creating the realistic scene and keeping his lead actor from being flattened.

"The 12-foot rock which chases Harrison Ford in the cave sequence would have killed whoever it ran over — if it ever had. We went to great lengths to make a 12-foot rock out of fiberglass and wood and plaster precisely so that it wouldn't weigh as much as a real 12-foot boulder. So whether it weighed 300 pounds, which it did, or whether it weighed 80 tons, as it would have, it could still have done bodily harm to anyone falling beneath it — and Harrison was not doubled in those scenes. Not only that, but the sequence was shot in the second week of principal photography in London. I mean, the absolute worst time to eliminate your leading man is in the second week, but because the rock was more effective chasing Harrison with Harrison running toward camera, it just didn't work as well having him doubled. A double would have cheated his head down, so Harrison volunteered to do it himself. He succeeded. There were five shots of the rock from five different angles — each one done separately, each one done twice — so Harrison had to race the rock ten times. He won ten times — and beat the odds. He was lucky — and I was an idiot for letting him try it."

Maybe it wasn't a real boulder. But the fact that Ford raced from something that big and heavy — let alone 10 times — makes his stunt just as audacious as Indy's. Had anything happened to Ford it would've been a major setback on a film that Spielberg was already trying to cut costs on, but even if he could've found a way to get a double to work we doubt the actor would've gone for it. Ford almost always prefers to do his own stunts, something that's remained a constant even as he's gotten older. So while recent injuries on the sets of "The Last Jedi" or "Indiana Jones 5" have yet to slow him down, we're glad he's never had to cross "crushed by faux-boulder" off the game of Actors' Injury Bingo he's no doubt playing!