Back in October, Disney bought out Lucasfilm for a hefty $4.05 billion. They made it quite clear at the time that the primary selling point was Star Wars — with good reason, it’s a global juggernaut — but that’s not the only beloved, lucrative name George Lucas’s former house has. And no, I don’t mean Howard the Duck.
Indiana Jones is a big name, too. Maybe not Star Wars big, but big. Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most influential films of the late 20th century and still remains high up many people’s all-time greats lists. So there’s no doubt that Disney would leap on the chance to squeeze every dollar out of Indy in the same way they plan to do with Star Wars (the studio plan to release a new film every year, not to mention ancillary properties like TV series and merchandise), but they can’t. Although Disney owns the intellectual property of the globetrotting archaeologist, Paramount retains the film rights to past and future instalments. But it’s enough to get you wondering: if Disney got the film rights, and inevitably went ahead with a reboot, who would be in it?
Dr. Indiana Jones
Indy’s the top dog (obviously), so a lot of thought was put into thinking up who could possibly replace Harrison Ford as the bullwhipping, fedora-rocking globe-trotter. Bradley Cooper and Andrew Lincoln were two of the actors that I considered, The Artist star Jean Dujardin was another. New Man of Steel Henry Cavill — who has been in close contention for several franchises before — was a frontrunner for me, but he’s tied up with possible future Superman films and, for my money, should be the next Bond. So he’s out — he can’t be in everything unfortunately. Nathan Fillion has already played a not-dissimilar character in Firefly, and was a strong contender. But the moment I thought of Hugh Jackman in the role, I couldn’t see anyone else in it: he’s got the natural charm and charisma to pull off the role, and has proved as Wolverine that he can handle the rugged manliness of it too. Plus, it just can’t be Sheia LaBeouf.
Brody is bumbling and a little useless, but he’s also a dear friend to both Indy and his father, their touchstone at the university. For me, the actor most capable of combining that comedy and trustworthiness is Geoffrey Rush. Rush played a similar role as speech therapist Lionel Logue in The King’s Speech and has proven himself more than open to big franchises as Captain Barbosa in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
Sallah is an almost larger than life figure, a large-set, bearded, fez-wearing Egyptian-based companion to our Dr. Jones. It was John Rhys-Davies, widely known as Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, who brought the character to life the first time round, and it’s a role that requires a lot of energy. That said, I think the best man for the job now would be Alfred Molina. Molina played a somewhat similar character in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and has an existing track record with Indiana Jones (his first on screen appearance was as one of Indy’s early guides in Raiders of the Lost Ark).
I was racking my brains trying to think of Asian child actors who could fill the role, when it dawned on me: nobody said Short Round had to be Asian. Then Rico Rodriguez, infectiously loveable as Manny on Modern Family, popped into my head almost instantly. He, for me, captures the inquisitiveness, usefulness and inherent adorability of Short Round, regardless of his race.
Professor Henry Jones, Sr.
Sean Connery is a tough act to follow. So I think, should the character pop up in the reboot, it would be fitting and a nice homage — similar to how Leonard Nimoy plays Spock Prime in the new Star Trek films — to have Harrison Ford fill the role. Hey, it is a dream cast, ain’t it?
Marion is the only woman who’s a real challenge to Indiana Jones, and, as transpired in that other film that we’d rather forget about, eventually his wife. So she’s important. The correct choice, I think, is an actress who can be tough, independent, feisty and yet still beguiling, appealing and a little fragile — is there any choice other than Jennifer Lawrence? She’s got action film experience under her belt, she’s played powerful women in The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook and, most importantly, she’s a lot of fun to watch. Marion’s meant to be quite young, and Jennifer’s certainly got a few less years on her than Hugh, too.
Willie’s useless. That’s about all there is to it: she wails, she screams… she’s the archetypal damsel in distress. But she’s also sweet and fundamentally good. Alice Eve, who’s been in the limelight most recently after cries about “gratuitous” underwear scenes of her in Star Trek Into Darkness, could play that very well.
Dr. Elsa Schneider
The Nazi doctor who caught the attention of Joneses Sr. and Jr., Elsa is a rather conflicted character: sure of her purpose; cold and manipulative, but also later remorseful and confused. A character that strikes me as inherently similar (well, minus the Nazi part) is Mal, Leonardo DiCaprio’s crazed dead wife in Inception. As such, I think the actress behind that sterling portrayal (who also notched up some villainy points in The Dark Knight Rises), Marion Cotillard, would be a grand choice for the role.
I had heavily considered Christoph Waltz for this role; he has that quirk, yet also underlying menace, tested so heavily in Inglorious Basterds, which would make him an exemplary Belloq. But, the first actor that popped into my mind for the iconic villain, and the one that has subsequently been on my mind every since time I’ve thought about who could play him, is Tim Roth. Roth has a fiery intensity that has created some truly memorable villains, yet can also pull off Belloq’s lighter, more human, side too. Roth, for my money, would be the perfect villain for a new Indiana Jones.
The most terrifying villain in all of Jonesian lore, and indeed the person I was most petrified of, growing up (well, except for maybe the Child Catcher out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Mola Ram (yes, the kalima guy) needs a suitably intimidating actor, and, for my money, that’s Mark Strong. Strong is often the go-to guy for movie villains (he’s currently rumoured to be the top pick for Lex Luthor for Man of Steel 2) and has provided memorable bad guys in Kick-Ass, Sherlock Holmes, Green Lantern, Robin Hood, John Carter and yet more films! Eric Bana would be an interesting choice too, but it’s Mark Strong who I see trying to rip the heart out of our new Dr. Jones.
As for the director, Disney definitely have deep enough pockets to get Spielberg, but whether he’d want to reboot his own film franchise is a bit of a murky question. Failing that Ben Affleck, Brad Bird, Edgar Wright (who worked with Spielberg on The Adventures of Tintin) or Matthew Vaughn would be my top choices to helm the reboot. That is, should it ever come to that.
Who do you think should be cast in any eventual Indiana Jones reboot?
You can follow William Jardine on Twitter, @WilliamKJardine.