In celebration of Indy's Blu-ray debut, Moviefone spoke with two of the series' most memorable actors: Karen Allen ("Marion Ravenwood" or "Mrs. Indiana Jones" these days) and John Rhys-Davies ("Sallah," Indy's right-hand man). The two stars shared their memories of working on the blockbuster film franchise and revealed what it will take for an "Indiana Jones 5" to happen.
What does it feel like to still be connected to his movie series, thirty years later? Karen Allen: It doesn't feel like there's this big gap. It's just one of those films that has stayed out there and continued to be seen and continued to be screened. I didn't really know until a few weeks ago that it was coming out on Blu-Ray and that they were going to show it in IMAX. So that was a surprise. There's always the ongoing conversation about whether or not we're going to do a fifth film. So it's just one of these ongoing themes of my life.
John Rhys-Davies: I think this was one of those great joinings of Kasdan, Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Harrison Ford. Between them, I think they created an iconic figure. Indy is a great force of nature. I cannot tell you how many people I have met that have said "Oh, by the way, I studied archaeology at University" or "I became an archaeologist largely because of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark.'" And I still meet youngsters who are going up to read archaeology and history at University because of "Raiders."
At the time, Lucas, Spielberg and Ford were in the process of becoming icons, but they weren't there yet. What was your perception of their talents going into this project? Allen: I had been a big fan of "Close Encounters of a Third Kind." I had seen "Jaws," but "Jaws" wasn't my kind of film, it's too scary for me. But, I was a huge fan of "Close Encounters," which I had seen not long before I met Steven. And Harrison, I knew a little bit from having seen the first "Star Wars," but I was just looking forward to the adventure of doing a film like this. It was my first time going overseas to do a film and the first time I was really working on the fantasticness of the sets that were being built. I had done much more realistic films and this was a different world entirely.
If "Jaws" isn't your kind of movie, then how did you handle the end of "Raiders" when the Nazis open up the ark and meet their end? Allen: When we were shooting it, no one knew what was going to happen. So we got tied up on that post together and then Steven stood down on the ground and would say to us, "Okay, now here comes this thing, so keep your eyes closed!" He would yell through as we were filming it and we would say to him "Well, what is it going to look like? What is happening?" And he didn't know yet. He didn't know what was going to come out of the ark. He was still in the process of trying to figure that out. So when I actually saw it... it was one of the reasons I didn't let my son see "Raiders" until he was like 8 years old or something. Those exploding heads are a bit much for a young kid.
Reading "Raiders" for the first time, I'm sure you imagined a certain kind of movie. What moment from filming exceeded what your imagination was capable of? Allen: I saw in my own mind a very different film than Steven made -- and of course I would because he had his own film going on in his imagination and that film was based on his incredible love of the films he had grown up with. He knows how he's going to shoot and he's got the whole film going on in his head at any given time. When I saw the sets being built and seeing them finished, I found it astonishing. The craftsmanship of the British set builders and the art direction of the film was so extraordinary. Certainly there was an intensity of working with six thousand snakes. I'm not particularly freaked out by snakes but there were a lot of things I was doing for the first time in that film. I had never done such throw-yourself-into-the-fray, physical acting.
Rhys-Davies: Bearing in mind that this film is the one that he did after "1941." You look at "1941" now and think, That's pretty close to being a masterpiece in its own way. But it was very badly received and all the grudging naysayers were saying "Oh the boy wonder has shot his boat. It's over for him." It was a script unlike any other I've ever seen. It was pages and pages of descriptions of action. There wasn't that much dialogue. My agent said "Well, what do you think?" I said to him "Look, this is either going to be the biggest catastrophe of all time or it is going to set a new fashion in filmmaking. Whichever it is, I would sure love to be part of it."
Switching from "Raiders" to "The Last Crusade," one of my favorite moments from the entire series is that last shot of you, Ford, Connery and Denholm Elliott all on horseback riding into the sunset. That's such a fantastic classic hero swan song. Rhys-Davies: I think as far as Steven was concerned, that was the riding-off-into-the-sunset moment. We were in Petra; it was hot, but not as unpleasantly hot as it had been in Tunisia where we had shot the first one -- there were days when it got up to one hundred and twenty nine in the shade. Jordan wasn't so bad actually and we had a great time there. There was a slight sense of finale to the whole thing. Though in my heart of hearts I thought, If I was Paramount I would be sending these guys very big Christmas hampers every year with little notes like "So um, have you thought about doing..." And I guess they still are.
There will always be talk of more Indiana Jones adventures, but what do you think happens next to the cast? Rhys-Davies: Well you understand you're talking to a member of the chorus here rather than the central characters. I think that we could probably get one more out of it at least and I would love to be in it. I never cease to point out to anyone who listens, the most watchable ones are the ones that have Sallah in the back.
I won't dispute that. Rhys-Davies: Realistically, geography is a constraint. It'd be rather odd to have Sallah turn up in India or someplace like that. I guess the writers can do anything really. And the other constraint of course is that the world has changed. Perhaps a character like Sallah now-a-days is less believable than perhaps he ever was and that is a tragedy for every country and every culture. I think he's a great bridgemaker. The very fact that they are charging the most technologically inept member of the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" team with a promotion of this kind, means that at least somebody in the world sort of rather likes Sallah.
Allen: [Marion and Indy] have got a lot of catching up to do. They have to get to know each other all over again. George and Steven tried to bring into the film, that even though they haven't seen each other for twenty years, it's like a blip on the radar screen and it just goes back to right where they left off. I was left with a feeling that they were going to try to go off and have a real life together. They make the decision to get married and they have this young son -- I see them going into domestic bliss like that. I see them creating a life together, going off and having adventures together.
When I try to picture what the next film will be about, I think they'll bring it into the sixties, when they left us in the fifties. We're left with that sense that Indy has sown all of his wild oats out and he is ready to settle down at seventy. I think everybody loves the idea of there being one last adventure. So we'll see, we're waiting for George. George has to come up with the idea, and it's all in his big, capable hands.