10 Actors Considered For Roles In The Indiana Jones Movies
From Harrison Ford to Sean Connery, the Indiana Jones franchise had the perfect cast. But that doesn't mean these stars were the first choice.
When it comes to actors who are perfectly matched to a given role, Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones is up there with the all-time greatest. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s homage to '30s adventure serials wouldn’t have stuck the landing nearly as well without Ford’s iconic, charismatic performance as the coolest archeologist in the world.
But surprisingly, despite having already worked with Lucas on American Graffiti and Star Wars, Ford wasn’t the producers’ first choice for the role of Indy. In fact, very few cast members from the movies were the top pick for the character — but it all worked out for the best.
10 Jack Nicholson As Indiana Jones
Harrison Ford has never been coy about the fact that he wasn’t the first choice to play Indiana Jones. Before the role was offered to Ford, it was turned down by another screen legend: Jack Nicholson.
Based on his performances in Chinatown, The Shining, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Nicholson could’ve made for a much more intense Indy than Ford.
9 Gregory Peck As Henry Jones, Sr.
Sean Connery was always Steven Spielberg’s first choice to play Henry Jones, Sr. because the director was inspired to make the Indy movies by his love of the Bond franchise, so it made sense to cast the original Bond to play Indy’s estranged father.
But in case Connery turned down the role, the producers had a couple of backups waiting in the wings. Gregory Peck, the acting legend from Roman Holiday and To Kill a Mockingbird, was one of those backups.
8 Danny DeVito As Sallah
Indy’s friend Sallah, played by John Rhys-Davies, was a major supporting player in the first and third Indiana Jones movies. While Rhys-Davies made the character a beloved icon, he wasn’t the producers’ original choice for the role.
Initially, the producers wanted Danny DeVito for the part, but he had to turn it down because of his commitments to shooting Taxi. DeVito ended up playing one of the villains in a , a few years later.
7 Laurence Olivier As The Grail Knight
In the final act of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Walter Donovan forces Indy to take him into the ancient temple that houses the Holy Grail to seize it for himself. When they get into the temple, they meet the ghostly Grail Knight.
Laurence Olivier, lauded as one of the greatest actors in the world, was under consideration for the role, but he was too sick to commit to the movie and ultimately passed away shortly after it hit theaters in 1989.
6 Debra Winger As Marion Ravenwood
Karen Allen undoubtedly turned out to be the perfect choice for love interest Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark (and later reprised her role in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), but she wasn’t the first actor considered for the part.
Amy Irving was the first choice, but she got overshadowed by screen tests by Debra Winger and Sean Young. Winger had to pass on the role due to scheduling conflicts.
5 Jonathan Pryce As Belloq
The masterfully crafted opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark doesn’t just perfectly establish the Indiana Jones character; it also perfectly establishes his dynamic with his closest rival, Belloq.
Belloq ended up being played by Paul Freeman, but the producers considered Jonathan Pryce for the part before casting Freeman.
4 Amanda Redman As Elsa Schneider
Elsa Schneider is Indy’s romantic interest in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade who turns out to have previously had an affair with his father — and also turns out to be working for the bad guys.
Before Alison Doody was cast in the role, it was offered to Amanda Redman. However, Redman turned it down due to her phobia of rats: “[The script] included a scene where rats would be crawling over my head. I really can’t bear rats, so that was that.”
3 Virginia Madsen As Irina Spalko
Virginia Madsen emerged as the frontrunner to play the female lead in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull after impressing Harrison Ford when they co-starred in the thriller Firewall together.
Ford advocated for Madsen’s casting, saying he was “hoping she’ll come over for Indiana Jones,” and that they “talked about it,” but the role ended up being played by Cate Blanchett instead.
2 Sharon Stone As Willie Scott
Before Kate Capshaw was cast as Willie Scott, the love interest in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Sharon Stone auditioned for the role.
This is a case in which different casting would’ve changed more than just the movie because Capshaw ended up marrying Spielberg and they’ve been together ever since.
1 Tom Selleck As Indiana Jones
After a lengthy auditioning process, the Raiders producers finally settled on Tom Selleck for the role of Indiana Jones. However, when Selleck was denied time off from shooting Magnum, P.I., he had to turn down the part. With Selleck out of the picture, the producers cast Harrison Ford.
Lucas had been reluctant to cast Ford after working with him on a bunch of movies already because he didn’t want to become inextricably tied to the actor like Scorsese and De Niro, but Spielberg could see Ford was perfect for the part.
NEXT: Indiana Jones: 5 Things Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull Got Right (& 5 It Got Wrong)