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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