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Even the Most Die-Hard ‘Indiana Jones’ Fans Might Not Know These Facts About the Franchise

Ryan McLachlan
Photo Credit: reesdcyar / Walt Disney Pictures / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: reesdcyar / Walt Disney Pictures / MovieStillsDB

With the release of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023), Harrison Ford has officially hung up his whip and fedora as the famed character. After five films and even a short-lived prequel television series (in which Ford made a single episode cameo), we aren’t quite sure what’s next for the franchise. To celebrate what could be the end of Indiana Jones, we’re sharing some facts that even the most die-hard fans might not know.

‘You are named after the dog?’

John Rhys-Davies as Sallah in 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989. (Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), it’s revealed – to Sallah’s amusement – that Indy took his name from his dog.

However, the naming of characters after real dogs was actually common among Indiana Jones characters. Short Round, played by Ke Huy Quan in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), was named after Willie, the dog belonging to screenwriters Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz. Willie Scott, Kate Capshaw’s character in the same film, was named after Steven Spielberg‘s dog.

Indy himself, both on- and off-screen, got his name from a dog; Indiana actually came from George Lucas‘ own dog, an Alaskan malamute that was also the inspiration for Chewbacca from the Star Wars franchise.

Harrison Ford wasn’t sold on Indiana Jones’ whip

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom'
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984. (Photo Credit: Timothy2 / Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

Everyone knows that Indiana Jones’ go-to weapon is his whip, but were you aware that Harrison Ford wasn’t initially sold on the idea? It’s true! In an interview with GQ magazine, the actor revealed he was a little taken aback when he first saw his character’s costume.

“It was presented to me as an aspect of character in the first film,” he explained. “My questions about it were many. Why am I wearing a leather jacket in the jungle? Isn’t it hot here? Why am I carrying a whip? What am I going to do with a f***ing whip? I’m going to whip people?”

When told the outfit was “an evocation of a time” and “a reflection of movies past,” Ford agreed to wear the get-up.

Indiana Jones versus the Cairo swordsman

Harrison Ford and Terry Richards as Indiana Jones and the Cairo swordsman in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'
Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981. (Photo Credit: movienutt / Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

While Indiana Jones chases after two men who kidnapped Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), he gets stopped by a very tall man dressed all in black, holding a large sword. In the scene, after the Cairo swordsman shows off his skills, Indy shoots him. This wasn’t in the script, as an epic fight was supposed to take place between the two.

Harrison Ford, however, came up with the idea, since he had food poisoning and could only spend about 10 minutes on set before having to use the facilities in his trailer. The scene is iconic, and we actually wouldn’t want it any other way.

Bonus Fact: Steven Spielberg, unlike Ford, was able to avoid food poisoning by only eating the food he brought with him, which happened to be cans of SpaghettiOs!

Real snakes, rats and other creepy crawlies

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'
Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981. (Photo Credit: Rain / Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

Indiana Jones hates snakes. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, however, he has to overcome his fear of going into the Well of Souls to get the Ark of the Covenant. In the now iconic scene, he comes face-to-face with thousands of snakes – and, you guessed it, they were all real.

Steven Spielberg recalled, “We had 2,000 or 3,000 snakes, and they hardly covered [the set]… I said to Robert Watts or to Frank Marshall, ‘We have to get more snakes.'” So that’s what they did. Another 7,000 were added, completely filling the set.

During filming, no one was safe from the odd bite. Everyone, from actors to the snake handlers and even assistant director David Tomlin, found themselves being bitten. Indy came close in the scene, when he finds himself face to face with a cobra. The snake actually spit venom at Ford, but he was completely safe, since a sheet of glass had been placed between them (you can even see a reflection in the original version of the film).

The same idea carried over to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, when 30,000 beetles and 50,000 cockroaches were used. When Kate Capshaw has bugs dropped on her from above, those, too, were real, and in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the rats Indy and Elsa Schneider have to pass to find Sir Richard’s tomb in the catacombs beneath Venice were also real – a reported 2,000 rats were actually bred for the scene.

‘I hate these guys’

Michael Byrne and Alison Doody as Ernst Vogel and Elsa Schneider in 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989. (Photo Credit: Zayne / Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

If there’s something Indiana Jones hates more than snakes, it’s the bad guys he faces off against. The baddies in most of the films, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and, now, Indiana Jones and Dial of Destiny, are the Germans.

If you watched the scene in the Last Crusade when Indy and his father go to Berlin to get the Grail Diary back and remember thinking the uniforms look authentic – well, that’s because they are. Costume designer Anthony Powell provided co-costume designer Joanna Johnston with photographs, sketches and descriptions of the uniforms needed for the film.

After looking everywhere for uniforms they could use, the pair ultimately found real ones, which ensured they looked authentic and added a bit of a spine-tingling edge to the production.

‘Don’t call me Junior!’

Sean Connery and Harrison Ford as Henry and Indiana Jones in 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989. (Photo Credit: murraymomo / Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, audiences got to meet Henry Jones Sr., played by Sean Connery. The casting of Connery was an easy decision, with Spielberg recalling, “Only one person [could] play Indy’s father, and that [was] James Bond. The original James Bond, the greatest James Bond, Sean Connery.”

This was despite the fact that the age difference between Connery and Ford was only 12 years.

More from us: Costume and Prop Fails in Movies That Left Audiences Scratching Their Heads

Spielberg wanted the film to focus on the relationship between Indy and his father. He believed the focus on this would work well with the rest of the movie because “the search for the father is the search for the Holy Grail.”

Ryan McLachlan

Ryan McLachlan is a historian and content writer for Hive Media. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Classical Studies and his Master of Arts in History from the University of Western Ontario. Ryan’s research focused on military history, and he is particularly interested in the conflicts fought by the United Kingdom from the Napoleonic Wars to the Falklands War.

Ryan’s other historical interests include naval and maritime history, the history of aviation, the British Empire, and the British Monarchy. He is also interested in the lives of Sir Winston Churchill and Admiral Lord Nelson. Ryan enjoys teaching, reading, writing, and sharing history with anyone who will listen.

In his spare time, he enjoys watching period dramas such as Murdoch Mysteries and Ripper Street and also enjoys reading classical literature and Shakespeare. He also plays football and is an afternoon tea connoisseur.