Ford’s cinematic legacy is defined by two blockbusting roles – Han Solo and Indiana Jones. He was chosen to play the adventurous archeologist in 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark after starring as Solo in Lucasfilm’s Star Wars franchise. However, his appearance in Star Wars almost lost him the chance to play Indy since it was the main reason Lucas and Spielberg initially decided against casting him as the legendary whip-cracker.
Lucas had already directed Ford in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back by 1980 and was worried about the star becoming an actor he relied on for all of his movies.
The director likened himself to Martin Scorsese, who famously worked with Robert De Niro a number of times, by saying: “[Ford] has been in two of my movies. I don’t want him to be my Bobby De Niro.”
Instead, Spielberg and Lucas started screen-testing other young up-and-coming actors to take on the role of Indiana Jones.
During their search the directors found Tom Selleck, who had not yet become a household name.
Selleck would go on to play the titular role in hit detective series Magnum, P.I. which aired from 1980-1988.
He had already signed a contract to play Magnum, however, throwing a spanner in the works.
The star told Yahoo! Entertainment in 2017: “After I did the pilot for Magnum I tested for Indiana Jones and got the job.
“Steven and George, my newest pals at the time, offered me the job and I said: ‘Well I’ve done this pilot [for Magnum, P.I.’ And they said: ‘Well, thanks for telling us. Most actors wouldn’t do that, but we got cards to play with CBS.’”
Selleck added: “I said: ‘I gotta look my mom and dad in the eye, and we don’t do that.’ So, I did Magnum, it’s not so bad, is it?”
Ford went on to do four movies as Indiana Jones, with a fifth on its way to cinemas in 2022.
The fourth movie, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, was the most controversial of the series, garnering a 53 percent rotten score on critic site Rotten Tomatoes.
Despite fans hating the film, it did claim a staggering $790 million at the box office.
Spielberg and Lucas disagreed over the script, however. Spielberg originally wanted to use a script which involved some “latter-day Nazis” tracking down Indiana Jones.
Spielberg commented on dropping the script, which was written by The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile screenwriter Frank Darabont.
The director said: “I quite liked Frank’s script, but George and I had a disagreement over it, and George and I have always agreed to agree.
“So when we take each other’s temperatures, if I really am passionate about something, George will give in to me, and if George is really passionate about something, I’ll pretty much go his way.
“And in this case George was passionate that this was not the story he wanted to tell at this point in the Indiana Jones saga. And I think it’s a wonderful script.”