Indiana Jones Fan Spotlight: Laura & Joost
The Dutch cosplayers were engaged on the Dial of Destiny red carpet in Hollywood.
Among the 200 Indiana Jones fans invited to the Hollywood premiere of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023), one of them had a secret. Joost Dirkx, a cosplayer from the Netherlands, had traveled more than 6,000 miles with his girlfriend and fellow cosplayer, Laura Walhout, in order to attend the event. But what Laura didn’t know was that Joost had carefully (and quickly) arranged to ask her an important question on the red carpet.
“When we got the invitation to the Hollywood premiere, later that day I decided that this was the best moment to do the proposal,” says Joost. “What was really important was a ring. I had a plan to make it themed, and decided early that it should look like the Staff of Ra headpiece because Laura and I had created our Indy and Marion costumes. So I went to a jeweler, someone who actually forges these things. I discovered that it can take a year or more to get these things made. I had two or three weeks!
“I couldn’t go to a conventional jeweler,” Joost continues. “I found a 3D printing company that can print in metals, in this case gold. This was a week-and-a-half before we were leaving for Hollywood. They made an exception and worked it out to do it in time. It was made in the U.S., then it was sent to the Netherlands, and arrived the day before we flew out.”
Once they’d arrived on the red carpet, Joost and a friendly Lucasfilm employee quietly agreed on when and where he’d pop the question. As the couple posed for the cameras in front of a large display featuring Archimedes’ dial, Joost took a knee and caught Laura completely by surprise. “When I’m traveling, I’m the one preparing, making lists, trying to control everything,” Laura says. “I didn’t know anything about the proposal. Even when we got to Hollywood, I wasn’t thinking it would happen.”
You can watch the moment and Laura and Joost’s reactions below:
Laura and Joost’s journey to that unforgettable moment began with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), the first Indy movie that each of them had seen as children. “The Netherlands is very small compared to the U.S.,” notes Laura. “I grew up in Enschede, which is in the east of the country near the border with Germany. It’s not a big city, just an average size one.
“I was seven or eight years old when I saw Temple of Doom,” Laura continues. “I loved the I thrill of adventure, the excitement of exploration, and the historical mysteries within this world. I wanted to travel and see all of those cultures. It was a whole world opening up. Growing up, I saw those movies so many times with my parents, family, and friends.”
In the south of the Netherlands, Joost grew up in the small town of Drunen, which he describes as “really a village.” It was there that he also first encountered Temple of Doom on television. “This was the first time they had shown an Indiana Jones movie on Dutch television,” he says. “The next day at school, everyone was talking about it. That’s when my fascination started. Later on, I saw The Last Crusade and Raiders of the Lost Ark. But also, my bond with Indy really comes from playing [the 1992 computer game] Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. I really loved that game. You got to be Indiana Jones for weeks on end. It took time to finish these games. There was no internet at the time, so you had to try and learn from other people how to finish the game.”
Joost admits that it took some effort to keep one’s fandom going during a time when Indy movies, stories, and collectibles were limited offerings, and even more so in Europe. “The Kenner Indiana Jones toys were very difficult to find in Europe,” he explains. “And even with Star Wars, by the time I was starting to collect things, the original hype was pretty much over. You could find second-hand toys at events. I would trade toys or buy them with pocket money from friends. I found some discarded Indy library books. But we mostly used our imaginations to recreate these stories.”
For Laura, her Indy passion was something very personal. “I was a fan of Star Wars and Indiana Jones but it was not a passion I shared with others,” she says. “I’m a girl, so I’m not supposed to like those. I was supposed to play with Barbies, which I always did as well! [laughs]
“There wasn’t really a fandom culture at school like we know nowadays,” Laura continues. “Everyone knew me as the girl who watched a lot of movies, but there it stopped. Later on, after I graduated from university, I went into the gaming industry, and then I learned that Disney had bought Lucasfilm. That was what motivated me to try and work for Disney and get involved in cosplay and things like that.”
Laura steadily grew in her career working in marketing at various gaming companies and for many years with Disney. “I really find it interesting to see different kinds of cultures,” she says. “There are different ways of working. With 2K Games, I got to work with people in Asia, for example, and they have a whole different communication style than you have in Europe, Australia, or the U.S. It’s interesting to learn how every country communicates and how they get to the point of something. Especially once you have broken the ice and they open up to you, people start sharing things about their lives and their cultures.”
Joost, meanwhile, worked in quality control, initially at a car part factory for many years, and then with a company that manufactures small submarines. “These are certified submarines with acrylic windows that can dive up to 3,000 meters,” he explains. “Submarines have always fascinated me since I saw the movie Das Boot from 1981, which of course featured the same submarine that appeared in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s all very adventurous, and it’s a little relatable to Indiana Jones.”
Cosplay would finally bring Laura and Joost together. “I was always a fan of Halloween, so I love making costumes,” says Laura. “Then I found out about the 501st Legion when I worked at Disney, and decided that I need to have a stormtrooper costume. That was actually my first real screen-accurate cosplay costume. I made so many friends through the Dutch Garrison, including Joost, who was also trooping there as Darth Vader.”
At six-foot-six, Joost describes himself as “tall, even for a Dutch guy!” But in addition to Star Wars characters, Laura and Joost were both interested in creating Indy costumes. “When we met and became a couple, we then found out that we both liked Indiana Jones,” Laura says. “We didn’t know that before. We found out and we went all crazy!
“The cool thing about an Indiana Jones costume, whether it’s Indy or Marion, is that it’s wearable,” Laura continues. “We went to Petra in Jordan, for example, where we could wear our costumes because they were meant to be worn in a place like that. It’s cosplay, but it also serves a purpose.”
Joost explains how “I had never had an Indiana Jones costume before we met. I had a hat as a kid, but it didn’t have the right color of shape. The parts for an Indiana Jones costume, even though they look so common, are quite expensive if you want them to be screen accurate. A good-looking whip or jacket are things that you need to look ahead for how you plan these things financially. I wear my costume out from time to time. I even wore it to work, though not with the whip and hat, and not with my holster. People would see you and say, ‘Wait a second. Are you wearing an Indiana Jones costume?’”
Over the years, Laura and Joost have managed to attend a number of events in their various Indy, Marion, and Willie Scott costumes, including Star Wars Celebration in London earlier this year, where they helped organize an intimate gathering of fellow Indy cosplayers. The Hollywood premiere, however, was something entirely different. “We made loads of new friends, people you saw online but now you can actually meet them,” Joost says. “It really expanded our global friendships in Indiana Jones. Everybody was enjoying the movie. It was one big party. That’s really what it’s all about. Bringing people with the same passion from around the world to share this. To see 200 Indiana Jones fans all together was really amazing.”
As they continue making wedding plans – which they explain will include some elements of Indy and Star Wars but not be entirely themed out – Laura reflects on the proposal as a truly unique experience. “I couldn’t think of a better place to do this. Who can say they got proposed to on the red carpet of an Indiana Jones premiere? It’s something we will cherish for the rest of our lives. It’s something we will show our children – this happened.”
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