Harrison Ford: ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ swordsman scene was my idea

Sept. 14, 2011 | 3:35 p.m.
ford1 crop Harrison Ford: Raiders of the Lost Ark swordsman scene was my idea

Harrison Ford speaks during Hero Complex's "Raiders of the Lost Ark" 30th anniversary event Sept. 12 in Los Angeles. (Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times)

The famous “Raiders of the Lost Ark” scene in which Indiana Jones shoots the Cairo swordsman instead of dueling him was Harrison Ford’s idea, the actor and surprise guest told the audience during the film’s 30th anniversary screening.

During the event’s Q&A with Steven Spielberg, hosted by Hero Complex’s Geoff Boucher at L.A. Live Monday night, the director began recounting how the scene, originally written to be an action sequence requiring three days of shooting, was truncated.

“No, no, that’s rubbish,” came Ford’s voice from offstage. “That’s not what happened, pal.”

Greeted by a cheering audience and a flurry of camera flashes, Ford joined Spielberg onstage and explained that the idea came to him after he fell ill during the shoot.

“I had chosen to eat native food, unlike Steven who went to Tunisia with a steamer trunk full of SpaghettiOs, and I had suffered mightily for that,” Ford said. “I was no longer capable of staying out of my trailer for more than it took to expose a role of film, which was 10 minutes, and then I would have to flee back there for sanitary facilities.”

Spielberg and Ford said they both thought the pacing would work better in the film, but Terry Richards, the stuntman playing the swordsman, was disappointed to lose the chance to show off the skills he had acquired for the part.

“Probably the greatest contest for any part in the film was over this, because both Steven and George [Lucas] were convinced that you could throw a salami in the air and slice it into wafer-thin slices with a sword,” Ford said. “But this guy had trained and trained and trained, and we had to tell him that he was gonna die.”

Be sure to also check out Part 1 of the interview, in which Spielberg talks about the future of the Indiana Jones franchise.

— Noelene Clark


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12 Responses to Harrison Ford: ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ swordsman scene was my idea

  1. George Scully says:

    This has been a great little 30th birthday present to fans of 'Raiders'. Thanks, Hero Complex, Mr. Spielberg, & Mr. Ford. Great stuff.

  2. Rod Keys says:

    They talk like if it happened yesterday! Nice to see Harrison sense of humor. Great video.

  3. kiperlock says:

    Woow incredible!! Harrison Ford Rules!!! it was nice seeing these two gigants again. :)

  4. Harry Bannerman says:

    Don't you wish Spielberg would stop wearing that ridiculous hat!

  5. Baramos says:

    Hate to break it to the reporter here but the story of how that scene came about has been told a dozen times already. I heard it a long time ago, possibly on my Indiana Jones VHS tapes which had some "making of" things before the movie started, if I remember correctly…either way, it's an old story.

  6. tightshorts says:

    This is a real treat for me, as a child of the 80's and Indiana Jones fan.
    I'm worried that Harrison was talking a little slow… like an old man …a little :(

  7. annie says:

    umm yeah. no kidding Baramos. i knew that ages ago. sorry noelene :)

  8. Mark says:

    Thank you so much for doing this! Raiders is my favorite movie of all time! I hope they make an Indy 5. I think that Shia was a good pick to play Indy's son.

  9. Joel says:

    Harrison Ford is an actor with a classic sense of humor. Indian Jones would not be the same without him and his improvised plan. Does anyone know if they will make Indiana Jones into a six-part series, like Star Wars? They have two more movies to make. Would Harrison Ford be up to that?

  10. pachanga says:

    Wasn't there an interview featured on Hero Complex with HF's stunt double a few months back (to coincide with the release of his memoirs) where he said it was his (the stunt man's idea)?

  11. Matt says:

    Unfortunately Harrison is really showing his age. It's really hard to watch him in movies. Everything is so slow and deliberate. Ive oft wondered if he chooses to speak that way, or if his mind is just slowing down. Well, it happens to all of us sooner or later. Regardless, I really enjoyed Cowboys vs. Aliens a lot more than most. Keep it up as long as you're willing Harrison!

  12. emma says:

    Sadly the Cairo Swordsman a.k.a Terry Richards has past away, I knew him personally and was a wonderful man. Yet he has been immortalized through Raiders of the Lost Ark

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