20 Crazy Details Behind The Making Of The Original Indiana Jones Movies

When Raiders of the Lost Ark hit theaters, did anyone know Indiana Jones would become a pop culture phenomenon? Discussed with the same reverence as Star Wars and James Bond to this day, the original Indiana Jones trilogy is loved by multiple generations. Getting the adventure to hit the big screen was by no means an easy task for the movie's staff.

Financing, creepy crawlies, illnesses, and script changes made shooting the movies a challenge. From difficult spiders to actresses not reading the complete script, all three movies had quite a few hurdles to jump through. Despite those hurdles, the cast and crew clearly had a good time as so many have been willing to return to the franchise for movies four and five.

Taking a look back at the first three movies of the franchise, we’ve gathered 20 Crazy Details Behind The Making Of The Original Indiana Jones Movies.

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Harrison Ford In Raiders of The Lost Ark
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20 The Original Story Was Sketched Out In Three Days

Harrison Ford In Raiders of The Lost Ark
via Netflix.com

The idea of Indiana Jones came from George Lucas. While he had ideas for story beats, the entire plot wasn’t sketched out when he brought it to Steven Spielberg.

It was Spielberg who brought in Lawrence Kasdan to help them write the script. According to the Making Of The Trilogy interviews, the trio set a tape recorder on a table and hashed out all the major plot points over the course of just three days. Kasdan then wrote the script by hand.

19 Tom Selleck Was The Front Runner

Tom Selleck As Magnum PI Via Wikiquote
via Wikiquote.org

Harrison Ford wasn’t always the person George Lucas had in mind for Indiana. In fact, Spielberg suggested Ford, but Lucas didn’t want to offer Ford the part because he’d already done three movies with him.

Instead, auditions proved Tom Selleck the front runner for the role. Unfortunately, Selleck couldn’t commit because of his contract filming Magnum P.I. After more auditions, producers went with Spielberg’s first choice of Harrison Ford.

18 No One Wanted To Finance It

Indiana Jones Faces A Cobra
via Netflix.com

With Star Wars and American Graffiti, Lucas financed the films himself. The problem was that the profit from one went directly into the budget for the next. By the time he and Spielberg prepped Raiders, his assets were tied up in other movies.

As he pitched the movie, no one wanted to finance it because Spielberg’s last three had gone over budget. It wasn’t until Lucas promised Michael Eisner they’d work on a tighter schedule that Raiders of the Lost Ark received financing.

17 Raiders Needed A Female Tarantula

Tarantulas In Raiders Of The Lost Ark
via Netflix.com

The franchise became known for its creepy crawlies, upping the creature quotient in each chapter. In Raiders Of The Lost Ark, an early scene featuring Alfred Molina required tarantulas to crawl all over the actor’s back.

When they set out to film the scene, the tarantulas didn’t move! As it turned out, they were all male. Introducing one female spider to the mix caused the rest to run across the actor to try to get close to her.

16 A Swiss Army Knife Aged Indiana Jones’ Jacket

Harrison Ford Is Indiana Jones
via Netflix.com

In movies, there are many versions of the same outfit. There are ensembles for the main actor, stunt performers, and ensembles that have to be torn or dirtied to appear at the end of the action.

For Raiders, the original jacket worn by Harrison Ford was brand new. In order to make it look lived in, the costume designer borrowed Ford’s Swiss Army knife and went to work on the jacket while sitting by the pool the night before filming began.

15 There Was A Discussion About Marion’s Age

Marion Ravenwood
via Netflix.com

When Indy met Marion in Raiders Of The Lost Ark, the two had a long history that the audience wasn’t privy to. That history prompted a discussion among Spielberg, Lucas, and Kasdan.

While the trio planned the script, they decided it was more “interesting” if there was a large age gap between them. At one point, they even debated whether Marion should have been eleven years old when they first met! They settled on Marion as 15 and an age gap of a decade.

14 The Cobra In Raiders Actually Slayed A Python

The Cobra In Raiders Of The Lost Ark
via Youtube.com

Snakes proved difficult to film. In Raiders, precautions had to be taken to make sure the cobra used on set couldn’t harm anyone, but the same couldn’t be said of it interacting with other snakes.

According to actor Paul Freeman, the cobra was actually dropped into an area with an angry python. It bit the python, ending it, but also damaging one of its own fangs in the process. That’s why the cobra remained hooded for its scenes with Harrison Ford.

13 Credit Dysentery For Indy Shooting First

Harrison Ford Had Indy Shoot First In Raiders Of The Lost Ark
via Netflix.com

The infamous Raiders scene involving Indy deciding to shoot an enemy doing fancy sword work? That was all Harrison Ford’s idea.

At the time, Ford was struggling with dysentery. Exhausted and dehydrated while they shot on location, the scene was taking too long too film. Instead of any extended fighting, Ford suggested his character just shoot the guy and be done with it.

12 Raiders Saved Alfred Molina’s “Bacon”

Alfred Molina In Raiders Of The Lost Ark
via Netflix.com

Today, Alfred Molina is a renowned actor. Superhero fans will remember him for playing Doc Ock to Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man. Before he acted for the screen, he was a theater actor.

In fact, his brief role in Raiders was his first time in front of a camera. His wife at the time was pregnant, and they were completely broke. Working in a movie paid a lot more than the stage, so Molina went out for a role. He still credits Indiana Jones with saving his “bacon.”

11 Karen Allen Came Up With Her Character’s Wardrobe Change

Karen Allan As Marion In Raiders Of The Lost Ark
via Netflix.com

At one point in the original Raiders script, Karen Allen’s Marion inexplicably ended up in a nice dress. The production team didn’t have a reason for her to end up in different clothing, so Allen was told she could improvise one.

Allen and Paul Freeman, who played Belloq, spent time work-shopping the scene while filming occurred. When they had to start rolling, the two had a plan, and Allen’s idea of Marion using her clothing to hide a knife made it into the movie.

10 The Boulder Sound Was Actually A Car

The Boulder In Raiders Of The Lost Ark
via Youtube.com

Foley artists and sound editors work together to create a lot of the noise you hear in movies. A boulder rolling down a man-made track on a set, for example, might not actually sound like a boulder rolling through an ancient temple in a trap left undisturbed for centuries.

For the famous boulder sequence, the sound heard when the sphere is in motion? That’s the sound of a car’s tires on gravel in a parking lot, recorded and edited in later.

9 Cut Raiders Scenes Were Repurposed

The Mine Cart Chase In Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
via Youtube.com

Not every piece of a script makes it into a movie. If it did, every movie would be five hours long. In the case of Raiders, two sequences made it to the storyboarding stage to figure out what they would look like, but they ended up in Temple of Doom instead.

Both the chase scene in mine carts, as well as the river raft sequence, were supposed to be part of the Raiders adventures. Time and budget saw them put away until Temple of Doom was written.

8 Dogs Inspired More Than Indiana

Willie Indiana And Short Round In Temple Of Doom
via Netflix.com

While hardcore Indiana Jones fans remember that the character was named for Lucas’ dog, they might be surprised that he’s not the only one. The Making Of The Trilogy revealed other characters were named for dogs as well.

Both Willie Scott and Short Round were named after the dogs of people connected to the movies. In fact, Willie Scott was named after Spielberg’s dog.

7 Kate Capshaw Didn’t Read The Entire Script Until Shooting

Snake Surprise In Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
via Netflix.com

Also revealed during the Making Of The Trilogy is that one actress didn’t know exactly what she signed up for. When Kate Capshaw snagged the role of Willie, she skimmed the script and prepped her scenes as it came time to film them.

Capshaw admitted she didn’t know she would have to film with snakes or other critters. Her intense fear when she found out prompted Spielberg to cut a few of the planned snake scenes.

6 A Stuntman Played Indiana Jones For Five Weeks

Harrison Ford In Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
via Netflix.com

In 2015 Empire Magazine looked back at Temple Of Doom, and the publication revealed a lot of new details. For example, stunt performers played the role of Indiana for five weeks!

Harrison Ford injured his back while working. He flew home for an experimental surgery that required a long rest. When he returned to set, he filmed closeups and recorded dialogue. Meanwhile, his stunt doubles filmed action sequences while he was gone. Movie magic!

5 Harrison Ford Taught Jonathan Qe Kuan To Swim

Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
via Netflix.com

Jonathan Qe Kuan, who only got the role of Short Round after going to an audition with his brother, loved his time on location for Temple of Doom.

He told Empire that he had a lot of fond memories from spending so much time in the pool. In fact, Harrison Ford taught him how to swim in their hotel pool before they shot any water scenes.

4 Cheese Casserole Doubled For The Sound Of Snakes

Snakes With Indiana Jones In Raiders Of The Lost Ark
via Netflix.com

On the DVD box set is a treasure trove of special features, including information about some of the sound effects used.

For the movies, a special recording was needed to call to mind a room full of snakes slithering over one another. The recording used was actually a person squishing their fingers into cheese casserole.

3 The PG-13 Rating Exists Because Of Indiana Jones

via youtube.com

Before Temple of Doom released in theaters, movies were either PG or R in the United States. There was no in between that was a good fit for teens wanting to see something a little more edgy.

Spielberg came under fire for the content of both Gremlins and Temple of Doom, so he reached out to the President of the Motion Picture Association at the time to pitch a rating for movies in between. The MPA settled on PG-13.

2 Alison Doody Walked Into A Wall During Her Audition

Alison Doody In Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
via Reddit.com

For the cap to the original trilogy, Alison Doody starred as Elsa, a woman bedding both Indiana Jones and his father. She also happened to be a villain.

1 Ford And Connery Filmed With No Pants On

Harrison Ford And Sean Connery In The Last Crusade
via Youtube.com

Filming in desert or tropical climates in the summers made the Indiana Jones trilogy a literal hot commodity. For The Last Crusade, Sean Connery and Harrison Ford found a way to cool down.

One scene depicted the father-son duo dining on a zeppelin. It was supposed to be cold, so the extras were sweating in winter clothing. Shooting from only the waist up, Ford and Connery decided to remove their trousers for a more comfortable afternoon on set.


Did you learn something new about the Indiana Jones trilogy? Let us know your favorite behind the scenes detail.

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