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Harrison Ford from Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
indiana Jones in The Dial of Destiny
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

Harrison Ford Says Goodbye to the Man With the Hat in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

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To celebrate the film, the star tells about returning to the role and closing a chapter as Indy nears retirement.

Is Harrison Ford sentimental?

Depending on the day, the star of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny may give a different answer, but what’s ever-present is Ford’s deep sense of gratitude for where he finds himself nearly four decades into playing Dr. Henry Jones, Jr. — reprising the role for one last ride.

It didn’t take convincing to get Ford back in the saddle to play Indiana Jones for a sixth time (including the four previous films and a cameo on The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones.) “I think we made four great films, but I wanted to close the circle and do one last film about him at approximately my age,” he tells about his decision to return at this point in his own career. “I’ve always enjoyed playing him and participating in representing the relationships that he has with his father, with his wife, with the young sidekicks that populate these films.”

Ford’s relationship to the archaeologist and teacher, however, has admittedly changed very little over the years. Indy is, after all, one of a host of characters that have allowed Ford to portray a smuggling space pilot, the president of the United States, a police detective, and various military heroes — including Jones, a colonel who worked with special forces, among dozens of roles.

But it may be one of the most meaningful. “I was just thrilled to be back,” he says. “The first day, you are facing an enormous pile of work and you know it’s a huge job. And I was just gratified to feel on my first day that I was surrounded by people that were going to really help me through this job. I just could feel the fit was good at the beginning.”

On the red carpet at the U.S. premiere, Ford happily reunited with Indy creator George Lucas; Karen Allen, who played longtime love interest Marion Ravenwood in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; Ke Huy Quan, the Academy Award-winner who landed his first acting gig as the affable Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; and Raj Singh, who played the young Maharajah in the film. Now he stars in Dial of Destiny alongside John Rhys-Davies, who reprises the role of Sallah, and new companions like Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Helena Shaw and Ethann Isidore’s Teddy who have joined the adventure in the search for Archimedes’ dial. Helena, in particular, is a new kind of Indy heroine, Dr. Jones’ estranged goddaughter and the next generation of treasure hunters, taking after her father, Basil Shaw.

“The relationship with Phoebe’s character is, I think, one that was built on such solid ground,” Ford says while seated next to Waller-Bridge. “We had a really good script to work with and it was a great pleasure to get a chance to work with Phoebe. I enjoyed it immensely….I had a lot of fun.”

The man kept the hat

With his usual dry sense of humor, Ford expertly answers questions about if his real-life dynamic with Waller-Bridge is anything like that between Indy and his goddaughter, Helena. “No, that’s acting,” he says, simply. “The dynamic of the characters is an armature to tell the story. The relationship between Phoebe and I is not as fraught as the relationship between Indy and Helena. But as a relationship that’s built on collaboration and affinity for both the material and what each of us represent, I think I was well cast in this part to play opposite Phoebe Waller-Bridge.”

“It was a long list,” Waller-Bridge quips.

With Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny arriving in theaters just two weeks before Ford’s 81st birthday, and on the cusp of two other starring roles in Shrinking and 1923, Ford shows no signs of slowing down. He relishes the work and the collaboration on set, and doesn’t shy away from the physicality of the Indy role. Although that doesn’t mean he gets through every stunt unscathed.

In fact, in an early scene in the film, Ford added his own flourish, improvising a moment in a fight with Mads Mikkelson’s Jürgen Voller when Indy covers the antagonist’s face with his trademark fedora before socking him square in the jaw.

“It was the strangest thing,” Ford says. “I had trouble with the shoulder before, but it had not come its full course. I just was showing somebody where the punch would come from, to demonstrate what I wanted to do for [director] Jim Mangold to our cinematographers. And I pulled back on my shoulder and somehow it tore my [subscapularis] off the rotator.” The industrial accident required surgery and took Ford off set for about a month. When he returned, he was ready to keep going, galloping his way down the steps of a NYC subway set on horseback.

While other actors might keep a memento from set, Ford already had Indy’s hat and whip from an earlier outing when he returned for the character’s final adventure. “I’m not very sentimental,” he says, before adding, “I’m sentimental about the relationships that we have made and have had the opportunity to enjoy making these films. But the stuff, I don’t care that much about.”

In fact, Ford’s fedora isn’t on display in his home or protected under glass; it’s hanging in his closet with the rest of his clothes, he says. “What am I going to do with a whip? What am I going to do with that hat? I’m not going to walk down the street wearing that hat. It’s just sitting there with a bunch of other hats… Hats of no particular significance.”

As for Ford’s emotional ties to this moment in his own life, closing the book on a character that helped launch his career as a leading man, the tears in his eyes during the standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival last month say it all.

“He’s a contrarian,” his co-star Waller-Bridge says once Ford is out of earshot. “He’ll tell you the whole time ‘I’m not sentimental. I’m not nostalgic.’ Then he’ll like cry at his premiere. He cares a lot.”

Indy’s past adventures — the original four films and The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones TV series — are now streaming on Disney+Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny arrives in theaters on June 30.

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