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Harrison Ford Ad-libbed Classic Scenes in ‘Raiders’ & ‘Empire’
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Week of Geek: Indiana Jones

About to make its international debut this Sunday at the 61st International Cannes Film Festival, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is one of this year’s most highly anticipated movies. Bringing back together everyone’s favorite trio — Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Han “¦ I mean, Harrison Ford — the movie also stars everyone’s favorite (or not) Shia LaBeouf (literally born a day before my brother).

But all the focus is on the ageing star of the film, Harrison Ford, and recent interviews have once again shone light on his ability to adlib some of history’s greatest and most recognizable cinematic lines.

Speaking to the LA Times in a recent interview, Ford recalled his feelings on what has since become an Indy legend. During the filming for the first film, 1982’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ford came down with food poisoning, just at the time that he was called to engage in an extended fight scene with a swordsman dressed in black. Suffering and not up for a lengthy filming, Ford suggested that Indy make a gesture of weary exasperation, then shoot the attacking swordsman instead.

“Yeah, I guess the black swordsman has become a bit of a Hollywood story,” Ford said. “I almost wish it hadn’t. I’m not so crazy about the audience having that much awareness of the process that went on. I just want to enjoy the movie and I’m not sure that helps.”

Ford also improvised the line, “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage” after his lady love Marion tells him he’s not the man he was 10 years ago.

Swapping over to probably Ford’s most famous role, Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy, we find that one of the most iconic moments of Solo’s scene time was also adlibbed. Just as Han Solo is about to be lowered into the carbon freezing chamber in The Empire Strikes Back, Princess Leia tells Han that she loves him. His only response summed up the character perfectly: “I know.”

According to Ford, that off the cuff line led to an interesting debate between himself and Lucas.

“It was such a contest between George and I about whether that was appropriate or whether the audience would enjoy that line or not, to the point where he made me go to a test screening to sit next to him to prove it was going to get a bad laugh,” Ford apparently recalled with a smile. “And it didn’t. It got a good laugh. So it stayed in.”

Some say that Crystal Skull is going to bomb while others think that the trio of Spielberg, Lucas, and Ford simply value the franchise too much to let it do so. Either way, clock up another geek movie for 2008.


  1. I am always glad that Ford did this during these scenes and during these films.

    Comment by Jerry — May 15, 2008 @ 7:01 pm

  2. The scene with the swordsman is my favorite one. In my review of the new trilogy boxset, I mention how worried I was that scenes would be changed, and this one I feared the most. I think if Spielberg/Lucas has made Raiders today, there’s NO WAY they’d have had Indy shoot the swordsman. I mean, c’mon, Lucas didn’t want Han to shoot first at a friggin’ bounty hunter that was holding him a blasterpoint. I’m real glad that Harrison Ford got his way in Raiders.

    Comment by Empress Eve — May 15, 2008 @ 7:19 pm

  3. I don’t think that Lucas would have had that particular scene changed because it’s too iconic.
    There would’ve been an uproar if that had been done, and not just from the rabid fans either

    Comment by Schutzenegger — May 15, 2008 @ 8:26 pm

  4. @Schutzenegger
    Well, I think the Han/Greedo scene is iconic too, but Lucas changed that to make Greedo shoot first. And that was just a touch of the massive changes Lucas made to the original Star Wars trilogy. And let’s not forget the rifles being changed to walkie talkies in Spielberg’s E.T. So, it’s proven that Spielberg and Lucas WILL make changes to their classic films. Hence, my fear.

    Comment by Empress Eve — May 15, 2008 @ 8:46 pm

  5. Ford is always been a classic man to do such type of roles.

    Comment by Movie Quiz — June 28, 2008 @ 12:14 am

  6. […] GO TO FULL STORY […]

    Pingback by Disinformation — September 26, 2009 @ 3:27 am

  7. […] rebelled against the Lucas empire and actually improvised (which, as we know, actor Harrison Ford is known for doing anyway). According to the background story, Han was supposed to mirror Leia’s sentiments as he is shown […]

    Pingback by A New Hope: Is This What the Last Three Star Wars Films Were Missing? : Conscious Life News — December 12, 2014 @ 4:21 am

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