He's a professor of archeology, an expert on the occult and a whip-wielding, gun-toting, fist-pounding hero who's never far from the next adventure. Indiana Jones has been called a lot of names since he first exploded onto the big screen in 1981. Now it looks like he might be called the strangest one of all: sidekick.
While at the Cannes Film Festival, where "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is one of many movies premiering out of competition, George Lucas hinted that he's left the door open for more "Indy" stories, but with Shia LaBeouf, not Harrison Ford, at the center of the action.
"I haven't even told Steven [Spielberg] or Harrison this," he told Fox News. "But I have an idea to make Shia the lead character next time and have Harrison come back like Sean Connery did in the last movie. I can see it working out."
Connery played Dr. Henry Jones, Indiana's obsessive and somewhat comical father, in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."
Although it has been talked about for months, Lucas' statement is another hint that LaBeouf's character, Mutt, might be Indiana's son — that is, if I remember my SAT analogies correctly (Sean Connery : Indiana :: Indiana : Mutt).
But is a fifth Indiana Jones film anything more than wishful thinking on the part of Lucas? Would Harrison Ford entertain the thought of returning to the iconic character in a much more limited capacity?
"I have no cheeky answer for [that]. I just work here. I'm glad to work here," Ford told MTV News at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday (May 16). "Till they tell me otherwise, I will continue to be Indiana Jones."
"I know Harrison would love to," LaBeouf countered, smiling. "I know that Harrison, when he's 80, will still be jacked. Is there going to be an 80-year-old Indiana Jones? No one can say never."
There's actually already been a 93-year-old Indiana Jones, portrayed by George Hall in "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles," which ran on TV from 1992 to 1993. But while those episodes didn't have Harrison Ford (save for one) they still heavily centered on the character he helped create — he wasn't regulated to second-fiddle status.
For fans, then, the issue leading up to the release of "Crystal Skull" is whether or not Indy without Indy is still Indy — the reasonable assumption being that a Mutt film is only as strong as Mutt himself.
Is Mutt a good enough character to take center stage? ItLaBeouf said it's up to the fans, who will ultimately choose the fate of Indiana Jones with their reception of "Crystal Skull." Choose ... wisely.
"Mutt's pretty wild [but] it's all about what the public feels," LaBeouf said. "I know if it's received well, that's a pretty definite indicator. If it's received well, I don't imagine they would stop making them.
"I don't think a Mutt spin-off would be as big as Indiana Jones," he added, coyly. "[But] fingers crossed!"
Last year, the Net was flooded with stories claiming that Lucasfilm had signed contracts with both Ford and LaBeouf for additional movies. At the time, a spokesman for the company explicitly denied to MTV News the veracity of these rumors, stating they were just "idle chatter among Internet fans."
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[This story was originally published at 4:21 pm E.T. on 5.16.2008]