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Phoebe Waller-Bridge from Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) in Lucasfilm's INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY.
(L-R): Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) in Lucasfilm's INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge Shares Harrison Ford’s Advice For Taking a Punch On Screen

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The actor behind Helena Shaw in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny shares some of the joys and wisdom from making the latest film in the adventure franchise.

As Helena Shaw, the estranged goddaughter to world-class explorer Indiana Jones, Phoebe Waller-Bridge inhabits a new kind of leading lady in the Indiana Jones franchise.

Like Marion Ravenwood, she’s complex, self-sufficient, and bold. And like Willie Scott, she’s not afraid to challenge Dr. Jones. But to Indy, she’s just “Wombat.”

“I’m excited for people to meet Helena,” Waller-Bridge tells “She’s a slippery fish, I’ll tell you. But she’s a lot of fun.”

Behind the scenes, Waller-Bridge was nervous stepping into the role opposite Harrison Ford. On her first day on set, Ford was busy filming a flashback sequence that would explore Indy’s capture by Nazi soldiers during the fall of Berlin in 1945. When that sequence wrapped, their first scene together leaped ahead nearly 25 years to reunite their two characters after nearly two decades apart — inside a New York City bar on the afternoon of Dr. Jones’ retirement from teaching. “It was actually our first scene [working] together. And it was quite a quiet scene,” she recalls during an interview alongside Ford. “And I said [to Harrison], ‘I feel a little nervous. If I ever do anything a bit rubbish, please tell me and I’ll do it again.’”

At one point, Ford rolled up his script and gave Waller-Bridge a playful smack in the head. “And then you went, ‘Did that help?’” she reminds her co-star. But as Ford got up to leave, he squeezed her shoulder and gave her some words of encouragement. “‘You’re doing good, kid,’” he said. “And I died.”

“A lot of fun”

Although Ford has made a career as quick-witted characters who often have some of the funniest lines in a film, the star is quick to praise Waller-Bridge’s gift for comedy and her tenacity in jumping into the physicality of the role.

“There wasn’t much improvisation,” Waller-Bridge says. “We stuck to the script, which I always think is actually a relief. When the script’s that good, it’s all about finding the chemistry and the rhythm within it. We would talk a lot with Jim [Mangold, the director] beforehand, but we didn’t do too much rehearsal… There were little moments throughout that sort of occur naturally. But we did have a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun.”

In fact, one of Ford’s notes was for the pair to save it for the screen. “I was sort of quite keen to rehearse, and [Ford] was like, ‘Save it for the camera,’” she says with a laugh, her voice a husky impersonation of Ford’s own while sitting just inches away from her co-star.

Is it her best Harrison Ford impression? “No, I have better, but I’m warming up,” she quips, turning to her colleague. “You haven’t seen all of them!”

“No,” Ford agrees gamely. “I haven’t.”

Taking (and giving) her punches

Over the course of their collaboration, one of the most important lessons Waller-Bridge learned from Ford was how to take a punch, as well as land one. The story calls for a number of brawls that see Helena taking it on the chin and landing her own wallops.

“Oh my gosh, I had the time of my life,” she says of the fight choreography. “The advice [Ford] gave me when I have to take a punch — ‘Imagine that I’m drunk,’ — was really useful! I’m going to take that through my life, in life and in my work.”

As for landing her own punches, “It was very, very important to me that I rehearsed not punching Harrison over and over,” she says with a laugh.


And she’s excited for people to see the story in action and discover Indy’s final adventure. “It’s such a huge staple of American cinema,” she says. “I find it very emotional and I think Harrison’s performance is so perfectly Indiana Jones and everything you want him to be. And then there’s this extra layer of profundity about what it means to be in the last chapter of his Indiana Jones story.”

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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