George Lucas’ Ideas For Indiana Jones Caused No Shortage Of ‘Suffering’ For Harrison Ford

The years between the release of “Star Wars: A New Hope” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” saw Harrison Ford star in a string of financial duds, his minor turn in “Apocalypse Now” aside. As such, when director Steven Spielberg and co-writer George Lucas approached him about taking on the role of Indy, the actor was naturally concerned that the rugged archaeologist might hew a little too close to the character he was best known for playing at that stage in his career. I refer, obviously, to the Bellhop in “Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round.” (*Checks notes*) Er, Han Solo.

“I thought [the ‘Raiders’ screenplay] was wonderful,” Ford told Empire Magazine back in 2002. “The only question I had in my mind about it was that, because both ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Raiders’ were written by Lawrence Kasdan, there was some similarity in the characters.” Spielberg agreed with him and the duo went about paring down “the kind of snappy, hip dialogue which belonged to Han Solo,” instead portraying Indy as a hero who tends to be a tad too big for his britches. This also moved him further away from his original inspiration: the suave, martini-shaking, super-spy James Bond (though the pair still have a fair deal in common).

As for Indiana’s iconic — yes, we’re pulling out the big guns — getup (brown leather jacket, khaki shirt, wide-brimmed fedora), that was all Lucas’ doing, Ford said. He added:

“It’s a strange thing, but George had some concept drawings made maybe two years before there was any thought of me doing the part. They were by an artist named James Steranko, and if you look at them alongside stills from the film, it’s very striking, the similarity between the two.”

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