Show Mobile Navigation
Movies and TV |

10 Behind the Scenes Facts About Indiana Jones

by Lorna Wallace
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Indiana Jones is one of the best action-adventure franchises of all time. Created by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the movies (and one episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles) star Harrison Ford as a whip-cracking archaeologist who goes on dangerous quests to recover important artifacts. With Ford apparently making his last outing as the daring Dr. Jones this year in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, here are 10 behind-the-scenes facts about the iconic franchise.

Related: Top 10 Behind-The-Scenes Stories From The Best Action Movies

10 Indiana Jones Features a Few Connections to Star Wars

All The Star Wars Easter Eggs You MISSED In Indiana Jones..

It’s no surprise that Star Wars and Indiana Jones share a few connections, given George Lucas’s involvement in both franchises. The most obvious shared element between the two is Harrison Ford, but it goes a lot further than that. For instance, Lucas’s Alaskan Malamute didn’t just provide Dr. Jones’s chosen name; she also inspired Chewbacca. Lucas explains that while penning the original Star Wars movie, Indiana (the dog) would “always sit next to me when I was writing. And when I’d drive around, she’d sit in the front seat… Having her with me all the time inspired me to give Han Solo a sidekick who was like a big, furry dog.”

The Indiana Jones movies also feature a few Star Wars Easter eggs. When Indy is exploring the Well of Souls in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), a depiction of R2-D2 and C-3PO can be spotted in the hieroglyphics etched onto the walls. The club where Willie performs in Temple of Doom (1984) is called Club Obi-Wan. And in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Indy even utters the line featured in every Star Wars movie: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”[1]

9 Diarrhea Led Ford Changing a Fight Sequence in Raiders

Raiders of the Lost Ark (3/10) Movie CLIP – Sword vs. Gun (1981) HD

While filming scenes for Raiders of the Lost Ark in Tunisia (as a stand-in for Egypt), almost the entire crew came down with dysentery, including Harrison Ford. In a Reddit AMA, Ford explained that the comical scene where he simply shoots the swordsman was a result of him “suffering from dysentery,” which meant he “found it inconvenient to be out of my trailer for more than 10 minutes at a time.”

Originally this fight was “meant to be the ultimate duel between sword and whip.” But Harrison couldn’t bear the thought of the fight taking two to three days to film, so he “proposed to Steven that we just shoot the son a bitch, and Steve said ‘I was thinking that as well.’”

Spielberg himself never actually got sick because before leaving England for Tunisia, he “packed a steamer trunk of canned food.” His diet was essentially just “Spaghetti-O’s, pork, and beans—whatever they had from Sainsbury’s in England.”[2]

8 Temple of Doom Helped Create the PG-13 Rating

A Brief History of PG-13

Temple of Doom is darker in tone than its predecessor, and part of the reason for this is that both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were experiencing heartbreak, with the former going through a divorce and the latter a breakup. Lucas recalls, “We were not in a good mood, so we decided on something more edgy. It ended up darker than we thought it would be. Once we got out of our bad moods, which went on for a year or two, we kind of looked at it and went, ‘Mmmmm, we certainly took it to the extreme.’”

Although the movie was born of emotional suffering, it did lead to Spielberg meeting his future wife, Kate Capshaw, who played Willie. “I came out of the darkness of Temple of Doom, and I entered the light of the woman I was eventually going to marry and raise a family with,” he says.

When Temple of Doom was released in 1984, there was no PG-13 rating. The Motion Picture Association of America felt that the movie didn’t warrant an R rating, so it was classed as PG, much to the ire of many parents. Gremlins, which Spielberg executive produced, was released just a month later and fell into the same bracket.

Spielberg described it as “a perfect storm of movies that I either produced [or] directed.” He agreed that the movies were neither PG nor R, so he called MPAA President Jack Valenti to ask for a rating in between the two. “Jack was proactive about it, completely agreed, and before I knew it, there was a PG-13 rating,” he says.[3]

7 Renowned Playwright Is an Uncredited Writer for the Last Crusade

MovieClips – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Escape from Castle Brunwald

George Lucas, Jeffrey Boam, and Menno Meyjes are officially credited with writing The Last Crusade (1989), but they also had help from Tom Stoppard, a celebrated playwright who went on to be knighted for his contribution to the theater. Much of The Last Crusade is about Indy’s relationship with his estranged father, played by Sean Connery. “It was an emotional story, but I didn’t want to get sentimental,” Spielberg says. “Their disconnection from each other was the basis for a lot of comedy. And it gave Tom Stoppard, who was uncredited, a lot to write. Tom is pretty much responsible for every line of dialogue.”

But one line of dialogue that wasn’t written by Stoppard was Jones Sr. quipping that he knew that Elsa Schneider was actually a Nazi because “she talks in her sleep.” This line was improvised by Connery. Julian Glover, who plays villainous businessman Walter Donovan, recalls that “they had to stop filming. Everybody just fell on the floor, and Steven said, ‘Well, that’s in.’”[4]

6 Ford and Connery Didn’t Wear Pants in One Last Crusade Scene

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (6/10) Movie CLIP – No Ticket (1989) HD

Indiana and his dad taking a ride on a zeppelin in Last Crusade is a lot of fun, but actually filming these scenes was rather unpleasant. It got incredibly hot on the set, so for the scene where Indy and his dad sit at a table bickering, Connery decided to shed a few layers.

“I played it without my trousers,” Connery admits. “And Harrison says, ‘You’re not gonna play the scene without your trousers.’ I said, ‘Well, if I don’t, I’ll be stopping all the time because I sweat enormously; I sweat very easily.’” Despite his earlier objections, the heat ended up forcing Ford to join Connery in ditching his pants.[5]

5 Ke Huy Quan Accidentally Got the Part of Short Round in Temple of Doom

Ke Huy Quan on Steven Spielberg Audition for Indiana Jones, Being in The Goonies & Return to Acting

When an open casting call was held to find the actor for Indy’s young sidekick in Temple of Doom, Ke Huy Quan didn’t intend to audition for the part. In an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Quan explained that “my little brother went to audition, I tagged along, and I was coaching him behind the camera, and the casting director saw me and asked me if I wanted to try.”

The next day he was called in to meet with Spielberg, Lucas, and Ford. “My mom heard ‘Hollywood,’ heard ‘famous director,’ she thought it was a really fancy meeting,” he recalls. “So she put me in this three-piece suit with a little gold chain hanging out of the side pocket.” Spielberg could see how uncomfortable Quan was and asked him to come back the next day in regular clothes, and that audition sealed the deal. Quan hadn’t seen Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark, so he had no idea how big a deal the three men in the room were.[6]

4 The Flying Wing Fight in Raiders Was Largely Improvised

Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark – Nazi Plane Scene

In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana fights a couple of Nazis in order to steal their plane, and Spielberg actually came up with this fight on the fly. “I threw out the storyboards, and I began just to choreograph the fight, and I basically made that scene up as we shot it,” he recalls. “That scene was only meant to be a couple of punches, and it turned out to be something like 60 or 70 different shots.”

Another unexpected thing about that scene is producer Frank Marshall’s appearance as the pilot. This role was supposed to be played by a stuntman because the character gets knocked out by Marion, but all the stuntmen were sick. Spielberg asked Marshall to step in, and he later quipped, “Maybe the stuntmen were sick on purpose” because the temperature inside the cockpit was “about 140 degrees.”

Harrison Ford also got hurt while filming this scene—just one of the injuries he suffered over the course of shooting the movies. He fell over, and the wheels of the plane rode up onto his knee, tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his leg. He decided to just wrap and ice the injury and carry on filming.[7]

3 Mine Cart Sounds in Temple of Doom Are Disneyland Rollercoasters

Temple of Doom: Mine Car Chase (1984) [HD]

There are a few Indiana Jones rides and attractions in Disney parks across the world, but Disneyland, in California, also makes its own appearance in Temple of Doom. For the mine cart scene, sound designers Ben Burtt and Gary Summers were granted special access to Disneyland to record the sounds of rollercoasters.

The pair were allowed into the park when it was shut at night to ride the various rollercoasters and capture the noises they made without the music being turned on. “A very strange night was spent there,” Burtt says. The various clanks, screeches, and rolling sounds that were recorded that night provided the basis for the sound design of the thrilling mine cart chase.[8]

2 Dan Aykroyd Has a Cameo in Temple of Doom

Dan Aykroyd in Indiana Jones Temple of Doom

Near the beginning of Temple of Doom, Dan Aykroyd makes a short cameo appearance that is easily missed. Playing a character called Weber, he helps Indy, Willie, and Short Round escape Hong Kong on a plane (although that plan doesn’t go as expected).

The Ghostbusters actor is on screen for around 20 seconds, which sounds like ample time to spot his cameo. But the scene is shot at night and features no close-ups, so Aykroyd’s face is hard to see. And although he has multiple lines of dialogue, the actor also puts on an over-the-top English accent, which further obscures his identity.[9]

1 The Raft Sequence in Temple of Doom Was Shot in One Take

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (2/10) Movie CLIP – Raft Jump (1984) HD

The plane that our trio boards to leave Hong Kong is purposefully crashed, but they jump to safety on an inflatable raft. This stunt is sometimes criticized as being too unrealistic, but not only is it theoretically possible, but it was also filmed in just one take. In an interview with Ain’t It Cool News, producer Frank Marshall explained that they wanted to do the shot practically because they “always felt the more real things we can use, the more fun and the better it’s going to look.”

Marshall asked a life raft manufacturer to design a raft that would inflate with one pull of a ripcord. This was bundled into a tri-motor airplane along with three dummies, and the shot was set up at Mammoth Peak in California. Marshall recalls that when the raft came out, “it perfectly balances, unfolds right side up, the people are in it, it comes down and hits and bounces, and they’re weighted enough where it looks real and then slides down.” He said, “I think we got it,” and they wrapped up after just one take.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen