The development of the first Indiana Jones film would have been much different had a Clint Eastwood project not gotten in the way. While working to create his soon-to-be iconic Star Wars, George Lucas stumbled upon the idea of Indiana Jones. As Slash Film points out, allured by classic serials, he was determined to fashion an action hero like none other. In search for assistance, Lucas sought out filmmaker Philip Kaufman–known for such classics as 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Right Stuff.
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It was Kaufman who first envisioned what this grand adventure film could become. He is credited with suggesting the Ark of the Covenant as its central focus. However, Kaufman’s involvement with the now-legendary Raiders of the Lost Ark had to be cut short. This was due to a prior job commitment. He was to be the writer and director for Clint Eastwood’s iconic The Outlaw Josey Wales.
Consequently, Lucas elected to lay this project aside and devote his attention to making Star Wars. Regrettably, Kaufman fell foul of Eastwood during the early stages of production on “Josey Wales”. This led to his being removed from the film. Eastwood himself took over directing duties.
What if the Indiana Jones Series had started before the success of ‘Star Wars’?
Of course, if Raiders of the Lost Ark had been made in the 70s rather than Star Wars, the cultural landscape might look much different now. In 1977, while Star Wars was engulfing the planet with its worldwide success, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were a well-deserved break in Hawaii. Lucas mentioned the Indiana Jones concept and Spielberg instantly wanted to join in. As an ardent 007 fan, Spielberg recognized the likelihood of Indiana Jones being a kind of Americanized James Bond.
Had Eastwood not pulled Kaufman away, it’s possible that Raiders never would have had Spielberg’s touch. Furthermore, there’s something else to consider. Harrison Ford was little more than an extra when the concept of Indiana Jones first emerged. Had it not been for him starring in Star Wars, chances are slim that he would have ever cracked that iconic whip.
Of course, Ford barely got the part in the first place. Lucas was dubious of Ford’s casting in the role because he perceived it to be too close to Han Solo, and famously almost went with Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones. Had the part been cast in the 70s, there’s no telling who would’ve played Indy. This summer, Ford will reprise the character for one last time in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. The Film is set to make its debut at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.