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Grab Your Whip and Fedora! Check out These Indiana Jones Facts You Never Knew

Four movies, one immaculately handsome archaeologist. The entire Indiana Jones adventure series began in 1981 with Raiders of the Lost Ark, then was followed with a prequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 1984. We then got some backstory on Indiana Jones in 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Years later, just when everyone thought that it was all over, Indiana Jones came to the big screen once more in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Indy is one of the world’s most beloved characters – and one of the most cosplayed. There’s a reason why everyone loves him and knows so much about him, but did you know the next fascinating facts?

Mr. Smith, the Dashing Archaeologist

While the idea of having an adventurer archaeologist was always more or less set in stone, the original name for the character was not.

Paramount/Getty Images

Paramount/Getty Images

Originally, George Lucas wanted to call the handsome archaeology professor, with a part time job of adventurer, Indiana Smith. Steven Spielberg nixed this idea, however. Doesn’t sound as exciting, don’t you agree?

The Quintessential Indy

Before filming even began on the first film, the costuming for Indy had already been decided. It was a pretty good costume – can you even imagine Indiana Jones in any other clothes but the ones he currently dons?

Paramount/Getty Images

Paramount/Getty Images

The iconic costume – consisting of a leather jacket, a brown fedora, and a whip – was based on a concept painting that Lucas and Spielberg had found from an old 1930’s serial. They were immediately sold on it, and we can’t really blame them.

Harrison Ford Isn’t Afraid of Anything

Doesn’t Indiana Jones just look absolutely petrified during all the terrifying scenes he had to go through? Well, it’s because Harrison Ford is such a good actor!

As it turns out, Harrison Ford isn’t actually scared of snakes… or bugs… or rats. Guess those scenes were easy for him, then! First Assistant Director David Tomblin is scared of them, however, especially after being bitten by a python on set.

Misplaced Action Scenes

Some of the most action packed scenes of Temple of Doom are the scenes in which Indiana Jones and Willie are in the river and in the mine (which would later become the inspiration for the Indiana Jones rides at the Disney parks!).

indiana jones

Those two scenes – the river-rafting scene and the mine-cart chase scenes – are incredibly suspenseful and a ton of fun to watch, but both of them were originally written for Raiders of the Lost Ark!

An Improvised Scene

The tent scene where Marion Ravenwood, played by actress Karen Allen, attempts to seduce Belloq in order to escape was completely improvised. The script called for her to be in a slightly more revealing dress but it neglected to mention how she got into the dress in the first place.

Indiana Jones

She came up with the idea of hiding a knife in her other clothes, the conservative Egyptian outfit, to give her character a reason to remove them. Her idea even included a nod to the bar scene, where her character was first introduced. Genius!

No Pants During Filming

You know that scene where Indiana Jones and his dad are both sitting on the zeppelin, having some drinks at a table?

Movie Mistakes

Movie Mistakes

Well, as it turns out, neither of the actors was wearing pants during that scene. Apparently, Sean Connery thought he would sweat too much if he wore pants while filming, and Harrison Ford decided to join him on a whim. What a weird cast.

Black Eyes on Set

Filming an action movie can always be a bit dangerous, especially when filming all of those big action sequences, and sometimes actors can get a bit injured. During one of the days of filming, Capshaw was accidentally hit with a prop on set and got knocked out.

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

The next day, the actress woke up with a huge black eye. When she arrived on set, the entire crew smudged black paint under their same eye to make Capshaw feel better and apologize for the accident.

Harrison Wasn’t Even on Set

Kate Capshaw wasn’t the only actor on set to sustain an injury on set. Harrison Ford also got injured on the set of this movie. Harrison Ford actually suffered a pretty serious back injury while filming some of the scenes

Getty Images

Getty Images

The actor had to fly back to Los Angeles for six weeks in order to receive treatment before he could continue filming the iconic movie. Because of this six-week absence, the entire conveyor-belt fight scene was shot with Harrison Ford’s stunt double, Vic Armstrong.

Star Wars Cameo

If you pay very close attention during the Well of Souls scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, you might catch a certain little easter egg.

Given how many movies Lucas and Spielberg were making during this era, it’s no surprise that they alluded to their other films within Indiana Jones. In the Well, there’s an engraving of R2-D2 and C-3PO!

The Real Reason Behind Marion’s Replacement

As it turns out, Karen Allen’s character, Marion Ravenwood, was supposed to return to the franchise long before the fourth installment, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. However, she was eventually replaced by Willie Scott in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and later by Dr. Elsa Schneider.

indiana jones marion

Though Allen was a well loved character, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas decided to make their Indy more of a James-Bond-type of guy. They wanted their fearless archaeologist to have a different girl on his arm on every sequel, much like the 007’s legendary Bond Girls.

Temple of Doom Begins

When the Temple of Doom was first being created, George Lucas already had a bit of a different vision for the film in mind, one that mostly had to do with mood.

indiana jones

George Lucas wanted Temple of Doom to be much darker than Raiders of the Lost Ark, partly because he was going through a tough divorce at the time and felt the need to explore his pain through the Indiana Jones flick.

And to Think We Almost Had Another Bond Movie

Indiana Jones is a rather inventive idea of a story of a professor-turned-dashing adventurer, which was first thought of by George Lucas.

indiana jones

As the story goes, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were chilling on a beach in Hawaii, waiting to find out just how well Star Wars had done, when Lucas started talking about this idea he had for an archaeologist movie. Apparently Spielberg really wanted to make a Bond movie, but Lucas countered with a better idea.

Emotional Indy

Whereas the previous two Indiana Jones films had a lot of adventure and excitement, The Last Crusade was meant to be a little bit more on the emotional side and show a new vulnerable side of Indy that the viewers hadn’t seen before.

Murray Close/Getty Images

Murray Close/Getty Images

Steven Spielberg really wanted to focus on the relationship that Indiana Jones had with his father in this film, and had a larger metaphorical reason for it. He thought that the search for Indy’s family fit in perfectly with the plot of the film because “the search for the father is the search for the Holy Grail.” Deep, man.

What’s in a Name?

Indiana Jones is not actually named as such because he is from Indiana – that’s quite far from the truth, actually, and its true source is not quite what you’d expect.

Murray Close/Getty Images

Murray Close/Getty Images

“Indiana” was the name of George Lucas’ dog, who would later end up becoming the prototype for Chewbacca (from the Star Wars series). George Lucas’ dog was an Alaskan malamute that he was incredibly fond of, so he just took its name!

Marion’s Blade Runner Connection

Karen Allen wasn’t Lucas and Spielberg’s only choice for Marion. In fact, they had a number of famous faces to choose from, including Jane Seymour, Debra Winger, Valerie Bertinelli, Mary Steenburgen, Sean Young and Dee Wallace.

indiana jones marion

Though Dee Wallace didn’t get the role, she must have made an impression on Spielberg as he later cast her as the mother in his 1982 classic, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Sean Young wasn’t letting the rejection get to her either, as she was later cast in Ridley Scott’s neo-noir masterpiece, Blade Runner.

Where Did Willie’s Name Come From?

Willie Scott is the blonde diva from the Temple of Doom that continuously tries to seduce the tough and brooding Indy, only to fail in the end.

Just like Indiana, Willie was also named after a dog (can anyone explain why these dog names are so great?), though this time she was named after Steven Spielberg’s dog.

Tom Selleck Was Almost Indy

Did you know that the role of Indiana Jones was originally offered to moustached hero Tom Selleck? Selleck was quite popular at the time due to his involvement in Magnum, P.I.

indiana jones

Unfortunately, due to his involvement in that show, CBS said that he could not take on the role. However, Steven Spielberg wrote Tom Selleck a letter that said he could work for him anytime, though it wouldn’t be happening with this film.

Harrison Ford Was Almost Rejected

Since Tom Selleck was out of the picture for the Indiana Jones flick, the creative duo needed to find an equally impressive leading man else to replace him.

Paramount/Getty Images

Paramount/Getty Images

George Lucas initially rejected the idea of casting Harrison Ford as the leading character, since he had already recently starred in two of George Lucas’ films as Han Solo. Good thing his Star Wars stardom didn’t stop Ford from being cast as Indy!

Marion Ravenwood Had a Very Specific Inspiration

Just like Indiana Jones, Marion Ravenwood – the biggest bada** of the series, let’s be honest – had her own personal inspiration for her creation.

indiana jones

Portrayed by actress Karen Allen, Marion Ravenwood was based of off some of the 1930s leading women that Steven Spielberg really admired, including “Irene Dunn, Ann Sheridan, [and] Barbara Stanwyck.” It’s pretty good inspiration, if you ask us!

*BAM* Goes the Swordsman

You know that iconic and completely hilarious (and scandalous) scene in which Indiana Jones pulls out his gun to shoot the Cairo swordsman?

This scene was actually Harrison Ford’s idea. Apparently, he had gotten food poisoning and had to run back to his trailer nearly every 10 minutes to use the facilities there. Since he was so under the weather, he really just wanted to get filming done and over with. We can’t blame him!

Something’s Gotta Age

The costume designer for Raiders of the Lost Ark was Deborah Nadoolman, who did a lot of work on Indy’s amazing costume. The immortal leather jacket had gotten quite the special treatment from Nadoolman.

indiana jones

The night before filming on Raiders of the Lost Ark began, Harrison Ford lent Nadoolman his Swiss army knife, which she used – alongside a steel brush – to age the jacket. It gave her splinters for weeks, but it gave Indy a bada** look.

How’d the Hat Come to Be?

Similarly to the iconic leather jacket, Indiana Jones’ hat also had to be made more rugged than it initially was. He was already a seasoned explorer when the movie started – and he needed to look the part!

Murray Close/Getty Images

Murray Close/Getty Images

In order to age the hat, costume designer Deborah Nadoolman got the hat all dirty, then rolled it up several times. She also sat on it, then had Harrison Ford sit on it to make it look more worn in. Hey, whatever works!

Not Enough Snakes

The Well of Souls is a particularly terrifying scene because of all of the creepy crawlies littering the scene. Let’s face it, we’re all scared of snakes.

Getty Images

Getty Images

In preparation for shooting the scene the first time, the production team ordered 1,000 snakes, but they weren’t enough, so they ordered another 1,000 to add to them. However, the snakes still didn’t cover the floors. They ended up ordering an additional 7,000. That’s a LOT of snakes!

The Snakes Were Pretty Angry

Even though Harrison Ford wasn’t scared of the snakes while filming the memorable well of souls scene, there were still a lot of safety precautions that the crew needed to take.

indiana jones

During the scene where a cobra rises up from the pile and hisses at Indiana, there was a thick sheet of glass separating the two. There was actually a point where the snake became agitated enough to spit venom at the glass!

Das Boot

There are a ton of different types of vehicles used throughout Raiders of the Lost Ark, some of which were re-purposed from other films.

Getty Images

Getty Images

The submarine model that was used during filming of Raiders of the Lost Ark was actually the same submarine that was used for filming Das Boot, the 1981 German war film.

  Frank Marshall Makes His Appearance

You know that iconic scene where Indiana Jones is trying to get onto the plane to fly away from the Well of Souls, and gets into a nasty brawl with the plane’s pilot?

The pilot that Indy knocks out during that scene was actually the film’s producer, Frank Marshall. All of the stuntmen just happened to be sick that morning that they were shooting the scene, so he stepped into the camera.

Injuries Happen

Though producer Frank Marshall, who cameoed as a pilot in  Raiders of the Lost Ark, managed all of his scenes just fine, Harrison Ford did not come out of them unscathed, though that’s not to say that he didn’t completely tough through it.

Murray Close/Getty Images

Murray Close/Getty Images

Harrison Ford’s knee was actually run over by the plane while they were filming, which completely tore his ACL. Ford is a trooper, though, so he just wrapped and iced his knee, then continued the scene.

Best Film of All Time?

Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the greatest films of all time, hands down, and has repeatedly been called as such by many.

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Apparently, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the few films that Steven Spielberg himself can watch (of the films he has directed) and “forget how it was made, and watch it from the point of view of an audience.” We think its the magic of the story!

Club Obi Wan

At the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy is at a fancy nightclub where the entertainment is sure to keep everyone captivated.

The name of the club that Indiana Jones is at in the beginning of the film, and owned by the villain Lao Che, is called Club Obi Wan. It’s a not-so-subtle nod to Star Wars, obviously. Does that mean Obi Wan is the favorite Jedi?

Short Round Is Everyone’s Favorite Round

One of the fan favorites of Temple of Doom is the character of Short Round – he’s one seriously popular guy! Short Round was played by the actor Jonathan Ke Quan, who actually never initially auditioned for the role.

indiana jones

Instead, Jonathan’s brother auditioned, and it was Jonathan who kept telling his brother what to do during the audition. Since he seemed to know what to do so effortlessly, the casting directors asked him to audition as well, and he ended up landing the role of Short Round.

Swimming Lessons on Set

Child actor Jonathan Ke Quan was one of the main breakout stars of Temple of Doom – he instantly became a fan favorite, and was actually a favorite cast member on set.

Paramount/Getty Images

Paramount/Getty Images

Harrison Ford and Jonathan Ke Quan ended up becoming buddies while they were filming Temple of Doom, and Harrison Ford actually taught him how to swim on set. That seems like a pretty good idea, given how many intense water scenes there are!

Capshaw Was the One

Willie is a pretty major character in the film, given her stint as lover-turned-villain. No wonder Indy is so scared to trust the pangs of love!

Paramount/Getty Images

Paramount/Getty Images

It turns out that Steven Spielberg had about 15 to 20 different audition tapes for the role of Willie Scott, but he only ever showed Harrison Ford Kate Capshaw’s audition tape. They both agreed that she was the one to Indy’s heart! And she sure did a great job.

Screaming Lessons

There was only one problem with Kate Capshaw’s acting, and that’s that she didn’t know how to scream! That’s almost hard to believe, given how good at it she became.

Paramount/Getty Images

Paramount/Getty Images

Willie spends a good deal of her time in the movie screaming at a mix of bugs, scary foods, and pretty much every other thing that comes her way. Steven Spielberg had to teach Capshaw how to scream on set, and it ended up being a pretty good scream.

Those Darn Elephants

At the beginning of the Temple of Doom when Indiana Jones is at the club along with all of the nefarious villains, Willie is wearing a gorgeous red and gold sequined dress. This iconic gown was completely made with authentic beads and sequins from the 1920s, all made to make the dress as beautiful and exquisite looking as possible.

Paramount/Getty Images

Paramount/Getty Images

Unfortunately, before the opening scene was filmed, one of the elephants on set ate most of the dress! The costume team had to repair the dress extensively and very quickly, so they lost most of that authentic beading.

The Bridge on the River Kwai Makes an Appearance

Though it seems that everyone looks up to Steven Spielberg, even he has some directors and movies that he cherishes above others.

Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Spielberg was actually such a big fan of The Bridge on the River Kwai that he filmed many of the scenes in Temple of Doom in the same area of Sri Lanka where The Bridge on the River Kwai was shot at. The village was essentially built in the same area, as Spielberg “just wanted to go near where [David Lean] shot his great epic.”

How Lucky

While the Temple of Doom was being filmed in Sri Lanka, there was a British company doing some major construction near that same location at that time.

Paramount/Getty Images

Paramount/Getty Images

The British company was coincidentally building a dam near the film’s set in Kandy, Sri Lanka. The dam engineers ended up building the suspension bridge for the famous bridge scene in Temple of Doom. What a lucky coincidence!

Spielberg Doesn’t like Heights

Harrison Ford had a lot of fun on that suspension bridge, and immediately took to it and started running around on it.

The first time that Harrison Ford got on the bridge, he ran from one end to the other, just goofing around. Steven Spielberg, on the other hand, was terrified of heights and could barely make it 40 yards out on either end of the bridge before turning around and heading back towards solid ground. Lucky he wasn’t the one playing Indiana.

Three Continents of Alligator Eating

Of course, having a bridge scene – especially in an action movie – means that somebody needs to fall off of said bridge.

The scene in which Mola Ram falls off of the bridge and gets eaten by the looming alligators underneath is a pretty iconic one, but did you know that it was actually shot on three different continents? Guess alligator eating is pretty intricate.

Yummy Monkey Brains

Though Temple of Doom is famous for a lot of different scenes, characters, and everything all around, one of the most memorable scenes is the feast. That is, if you can stomach it and actually watch it!

Of all of the various exotic dishes that are served throughout the course of the feast, the chilled monkey brains are perhaps the most difficult to, erm, swallow. The monkey brains that are eaten during that scene are actually just custard with raspberry sauce. That actually sounds kinda yummy!

Not Actually Vampire Bats

There are a lot of different animals that make an appearance during Temple of Doom, though there aren’t 9,000 snakes in this one.

One of the best scenes involving animals is the one in which there are tons of “vampire” bats flying above Indiana and his gang. Don’t worry, though, all of those bats that were flying around were actually fruit bats.

Capshaw Hated Bugs

Though Harrison Ford didn’t have any fears of snakes or bugs (unlike his on-screen persona), Capshaw was terrified of bugs.

indiana jones

During the scene where Willie is covered in bugs, Capshaw was so afraid of filming it that she took a “relaxant” before they filmed it. Guess it worked!

Spielberg Didn’t like Temple of Doom

Unlike Raiders of the Lost Ark, which Steven Spielberg loved, he wasn’t the biggest fan of Temple of Doom. It was actually his least favorite of the movies. While fans adore the film, Spielberg wasn’t really convinced with the masterpiece he had created.

Murray Close/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images

Murray Close/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images

He actually said that the greatest thing that he got out of the film was meeting Kate Capshaw, who he fell in love with and later got married to. At least there was something positive he got out of the experience!

The Origins of Pg-13

Temple of Doom is a pretty gruesome movie, all things considered. Just the monkey brains alone make the movie definitely out of the kids range. The PG-13 rating was created specifically by Steven Spielberg and Jack Valenti, the president of the Motion Picture Association at the time, due to the backlash that came about from this film.

Paramount/Getty Images

Paramount/Getty Images

Spielberg was being criticized for the PG ratings on some of his films, most notably Temple of Doom and Gremlins, both of which were released on the same year. After that rating was created, there wasn’t any problem.

No More Ghosts

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a little bit different from both of its predecessors, but it’s still a really great film that a lot of people enjoy and love.

The original idea for the film was to have it centered around a haunted castle, but Steven Spielberg wasn’t into that idea. Spielberg had just finished working on Poltergeist and wasn’t very keen on the idea of creating another film revolving around hauntings.

There Was Only One Option for Indy’s Dad

Casting is a very important part of the process of creating a movie, especially a film like Indiana Jones where most of the cast is already so well known and loved. When it came to casting Indy’s dad in The Last Crusade, Steven Spielberg had some pretty solid opinions on the choices they had.



Apparently, he thought there was “only one person who [could] play Indy’s father, and that [was] James Bond. The original James Bond, the greatest James Bond, Sean Connery.” And Sean Connery was indeed cast in the film! (Never mind that he’s only 12 years older than Harrison Ford.)

This Was Harrison’s Favorite

Though Raiders of the Lost Ark is Steven Spielberg’s personal favorite of all of the Indiana Jones films, The Last Crusade is Harrison Ford’s.

Harrison Ford has said multiple times that he feels that The Last Crusade is the “most sophisticated” of all of the Indiana Jones films, and we have to agree. He’s also said that it was the most fun to shoot, though, so maybe he’s biased.

You, Too, Can Be like Indy

Steven Spielberg is a pretty big fan of his creation, Indiana Jones. He really likes the character and will tell you plenty of good things about him.

Terry O'Neill/Getty Images

Terry O’Neill/Getty Images

One of the reasons that Spielberg loves Indy so much is because of all of his imperfections, which he feels are what make him such a great hero. He also likes to tell people that “with a little more exercise and a little more courage,” everyone can be just like Indiana Jones!

Harrison Ford Loves Indy

Harrison Ford has had tons of iconic roles during his many years as an actor, but he’s still had some pretty great things to say about his character of Indiana Jones.

Murray Close/Getty Images

Murray Close/Getty Images

According to Harrison Ford, he thinks that the most important part of this adventurer/explorer is “his tenacity, his unwillingness to give up.” Indiana Jones certainly does have this quality – it’s only one of the many reasons we love him so.

The Hat Made Things Complicated

It’s completely impossible to imagine Indiana Jones without that classic brown fedora, but it often got in the way during takes.

A lot of the times during filming, especially during fast paced action sequences, the hat would fly off and ruin a perfectly good shot, causing a retake to happen. However, you can’t really make an Indiana Jones movie without the hat!

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