Four decades later, there have been a lot more years, and a lot of mileage, on 80-year-old Ford.
So for the upcoming fifth Indiana Jones film director James Mangold (who took over helming the franchise from Steven Spielberg) has concocted a sequence where viewers will be able to experience Ford/Indy back in his prime.
According to an upcoming issue of Empire, the film’s opening will be set in 1944 – about eight years after the events in Raiders took place. De-aging technology will have Ford going up against Nazis in a castle. Old footage of the actor was utilized to help create the illusion, along with the actor’s original jacket from Raiders.
De-aging technology so far has been notoriously less-than believable, with actors ranging from Robert De Niro in The Irishman to Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 often appearing like stiff Polar Express versions of themselves.
But Ford insists the new film, which hasn’t yet revealed its title, successfully pulls off a retro Indy. “This is the first time I’ve seen [the technology] where I believe it,” the actor said. “It’s a little spooky. I don’t think I even want to know how it works, but it works.”
After the sequence, the film’s narrative will leap forward to 1969 – using Ford as his current self – and that’s when the bulk of the action takes place.
Mangold explains he wanted “the chance to dive into this kind of full-on George [Lucas]-and-Steven [Spielberg] old picture and give the audience an adrenaline blast. So that the audience doesn’t experience the change between the ’40s and ’60s as an intellectual conceit, but literally experiences the buccaneering spirit of those early days.”
Their hope, producer Kathleen Kennedy added, was that audiences would watch the opening and think, “‘Oh my God, they just found footage.’”
Indy 5 will arrive a full 15 years after the last Indiana Jones film, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which many fans and critics considered to be a disappointment. Previously, Ford’s co-star in the film, Mads Mikkelsen, told The Hollywood Reporter that Indy 5 is “going heavily back to the first and second film and getting that original feel, the original Indy, something dense and epic” and told an anecdote about Ford’s stamina.
“[Ford]s an insanely powerful person,” Mikkelsen says. “Not just as an actor, but physically. I remember the first day we were shooting, it was a night shoot, then we stopped at 5 a.m. — and then he got on his mountain bike and went biking for 50 kilometers [31 miles]. Harrison is a monster of a man, a very nice monster.”
Indy 5 will be released in theaters June 30, 2023.