53 Fascinating Facts About "Indiana Jones" You Probably Never Knew

These belong in a museum.

1. “Indiana” was actually the name of George Lucas’ dog, an Alaskan malamute. He was also the prototype for Chewbacca.

2. The character Willie Scott in Temple of Doom was named after Steven Spielberg’s dog.

3. Lucas and Spielberg were on a beach in Hawaii, waiting for the grosses for Star Wars to come in, when Lucas told Spielberg about his idea for Indiana Jones. The conversation started when Spielberg said he’d always wanted to direct a Bond film, and Lucas said he had a better idea.

4. When Lucas first told Spielberg about the idea, the character’s name was “Indiana Smith,” which Spielberg nixed.

5. Lucas originally didn’t want to cast Harrison Ford since he’d already been in two of Lucas’ films.

6. Tom Selleck was originally offered the role of Indiana, but CBS prevented him from taking the role because of his involvement in Magnum, P.I. Spielberg later wrote Selleck a “wonderful letter” saying Selleck could work for him anytime.

7. Indiana Jones’ iconic costume (leather jacket, fedora, and whip) was decided on before the movie began. It was based on a concept painting, which was based on an old serial from the ’30s.

8. The night before the first day of shooting for Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harrison Ford lent his Swiss army knife to costume designer Deborah Nadoolman. Using the knife and a steel brush, Nadoolman aged the jacket, and had metal splinters in her hands for weeks.

9. To age Indiana’s iconic hat, Nadoolman got the hat dirty, rolled it up, sat on it, and had Ford sit on it.

10. The famous Raiders scene in which Indy shoots the Cairo swordsman in the market instead of fighting him was Harrison Ford’s idea. He had food poisoning and had to run back to his trailer every 10 minutes to use the “sanitary facilities.”

11. Marion Ravenwood was based on the leading women Spielberg admired in 1930s cinema, “like Irene Dunn, Ann Sheridan, [and] Barbara Stanwyck.”

12. In the Well of Souls in Raiders, there’s an engraving of R2-D2 and C-3PO on the wall.

13. To shoot the Well of Souls scene, they originally had 1,000 snakes, but it wasn’t enough. Then they tried 2,000 and the snakes still didn’t cover the floor. Producers ended up getting an additional 7,000 snakes.

14. A python bit First Assistant Director David Tomblin on set.

15. Harrison Ford, unlike Indiana Jones, is not afraid of snakes (or rats or bugs).

16. During shooting for the famous scene when the cobra rises up and hisses at Indiana when he falls into the Well of Souls, there was a sheet of glass between the cobra and Harrison Ford. At one point the snake became agitated and threw venom at the glass.

17. The pilot Indiana knocks out when he’s trying to steal the airplane after escaping the Well of Souls is actually the film’s producer, Frank Marshall. All of the stuntmen were sick the morning the scene was filmed.

18. Harrison Ford’s knee was run over by the plane during filming for that scene, tearing his ACL. Ford wrapped and iced his knee, then carried on filming.

19. The submarine model used for filming in Raiders was the same submarine used for filming in Das Boot.

20. Raiders is one of the “handful of films” Spielberg has directed that he can watch and “forget how it was made, and watch it from the point of view of an audience.”

21. The club owned by the villainous Lao Che in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is called Club Obi Wan, a nod to Star Wars.

22. The river-rafting and mine-cart-chase scenes in Temple of Doom were originally written for Raiders.

23. George Lucas wanted Temple of Doom to be much darker than Raiders, partly because he was going through a divorce at the time.

24. Spielberg had a tape of 15–20 auditions for the role of Willie Scott, but only showed Harrison Ford Kate Capshaw’s audition, who agreed she was “the one.”

25. Capshaw didn’t know how to scream, and since Willie screams so much, Spielberg had to teach her on set.

26. The iconic gold-and-red sequined dress Willie Scott wears in the opening of Temple of Doom was a gown made with authentic 1920s beads and sequins. Unfortunately, an elephant on set ate most of the dress before the opening scene was filmed, and the dress had to undergo extensive, rushed repairs.

27. Jonathan Ke Quan, who played Short Round in Temple of Doom, didn’t initially audition for the role. His brother did, and Quan kept trying to tell him what to do in the audition. The casting directors then asked him to audition and he landed the role.

28. Harrison Ford taught Quan how to swim during filming.

29. The village in Temple of Doom was built in the same area of Sri Lanka where many scenes from The Bridge on the River Kwai were filmed. Spielberg “just wanted to go near where [David Lean] shot his great epic.”

30. The vampire bats that fly overhead in Temple of Doom are actually fruit bats.

31. The chilled monkey brains that are eaten at the feast in Temple of Doom is custard with raspberry sauce.

32. Capshaw took “a relaxant” before shooting the scene in which she’s covered in bugs.

33. Capshaw was accidentally hit with a prop on set and woke up with a black eye the next morning. When she showed up on set, the whole crew smudged black paint under their same eye.

34. The entire conveyer-belt fight scene in Temple of Doom was shot with Harrison Ford’s double, Vic Armstrong. Ford suffered a serious back injury on set and had to fly back to Los Angeles for six weeks to receive treatment.

35. Coincidentally, there was a British company building a dam near the film’s shoot for Temple of Doom in Kandy, Sri Lanka, and the dam engineers built the suspension bridge for the famous scene in the film.

36. The first time Harrison Ford got on the suspension bridge, he ran from one end to the other. Spielberg is terrified of heights and went out only 40 yards on either end.

37. The scene in which Mola Ram falls off the bridge and gets eaten by the alligators was collectively shot on three different continents.

38. The PG-13 rating was created by Steven Spielberg and Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association at the time. Spielberg was being criticized for the PG rating on Temple of Doom and Gremlins, released in the same year.

39. Temple of Doom is Spielberg’s least favorite of the Indiana Jones movies, and feels the greatest thing he got out of the film was meeting Kate Capshaw, whom he later married.

Hulton Archive / Getty

40. The original idea for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was centered around a haunted castle, but Spielberg had just finished working on Poltergeist and wasn’t keen on the idea.

41. Spielberg wanted to focus on Indy’s relationship with his father, and thought it would work well with the movie’s plot because “the search for the father is the search for the Holy Grail.”

42. When in came to casting Indy’s father, Spielberg felt 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.”

43. Sean Connery is only 12 years older than Harrison Ford.

44. Harrison Ford thinks The Last Crusade is the “most sophisticated” of the films, and was the most fun to shoot.

45. River Phoenix, who played young Indiana in The Last Crusade, had previously worked with Ford on The Mosquito Coast. Phoenix said he would sometimes imitate Ford on the set of Mosquito Coast for laughs. It was Ford’s idea to cast Phoenix in The Last Crusade.

46. Sean Connery originally felt Dr. Henry Jones Sr. wasn’t fleshed out enough as a character, and brought ideas to make the character “less Yoda-like.”

47. George Lucas was originally uncomfortable with the idea of including that Indy and his father both slept with the same woman.

48. In the scene when Indiana and his father are sitting at a table on the zeppelin, neither Ford nor Connery is wearing pants. Connery thought he’d sweat too much if he wore pants, and Ford decided to join him.

49. Instead of using real seagulls for the beach scene when Henry uses his umbrella to scare the birds into flight, trained doves were used. The crew also threw feathers in the air.

50. During filming, the iconic Indiana Jones hat would often fly off and ruin shots.

51. During the movie’s five to six days of filming in Jordan for The Last Crusade, Queen Noor of Jordan and her kids drove Steven Spielberg to location a couple of times.

52. Spielberg thinks that Indiana Jones’ imperfections are what make him such a great hero, and that people feel “with a little more exercise and a little more courage,” they could be just like him.

53. Harrison Ford thinks the most important part of the Indiana Jones character is “his tenacity, his unwillingness to give up.”

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