From the very moment he struck an iconic pose onscreen nearly 30 years ago, Indiana Jones became one of the most beloved movie characters of all time. So when word went around town that Harrison Ford was once again itching to whip it up as the intrepid archaeologist, you would think that the actors fortunate enough to hear from Steven Spielberg or George Lucas would instantly jump at the opportunity to star in the series' fourth installment, "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."
"Well, no," "Indy" producer Frank Marshall laughed. "I think it's an opportunity that doesn't come along very often — to do these kinds of big movies — but they talk to Steven and he pitches the role. [Before they commit], they want to know, rightfully, what the part is."
The actors' roles are a secret Marshall is finally ready to share with the world, explaining exclusively to MTV News just who exactly some new castmembers will be playing.
"Well, Cate [Blanchett] is just spectacular, one of the finest actresses working today. She went from '[The Curious Case of] Benjamin Button' to playing the villainess in 'Indiana Jones,' so she's up for anything," Marshall enthused, confirming speculation that the Oscar winner joined the cast as Indy's main adversary. "She makes a great villain. She had a really fun time.
"Ray Winstone, he came from 'Beowulf' to this," Marshall continued, describing Winstone's character, Mac, as a sort of cross between villain Belloq and friend Sallah. "He plays an archaeologist competitor to Indy. Friend and competitor."
And Jim Broadbent? He plays a Yale colleague of Dr. Jones' that "sort of replaces Marcus Brody," Marshall said.
All three, along with Shia LaBeouf, Karen Allen, Harrison Ford, Spielberg, Lucas and Marshall himself, face a particularly "huge expectation" with "Indy 4," the producer said — a pressure to succeed that led screenwriter David Koepp to recently tell MTV News that his biggest hope for the film was "just [to not] screw up."
It's a pressure they've faced and successfully surpassed, Marshall insisted.
"I think the best thing I can say about it is it looks like an Indiana Jones movie in all the best ways. It's the look, it's the way that Steven designs all the shots, it's the style, it's the lighting, it's the way Indy is — all of those things. We haven't strayed," he giddily explained. "It sounds trite, but there's no other way to describe it. You go, 'Oh — Indy.' There's sort of a language that Steven developed for this character and for these movies. And you're going to get exactly what you got in the other three movies, which is really kind of thrilling when you see it."
Well, not exactly what you got in the first three movies, Marshall admitted, considering it's now been 19 years since the last Indy adventure, and, while not a doddering old man, star Harrison Ford is 65 years old.
"It's not the years, it's the mileage," Marshall joked, parroting the famous line from "Raiders of the Lost Ark." "What'll be interesting is you're seeing him in a different decade, so there's all kinds of new, interesting things that he has to deal with. Indy seems to be a little smarter [as an older man] — wiser, let's say."
Part of that wisdom is knowing when to let go, Marshall claimed, vehemently denying rumors that "Crystal Skull" would be the start of another series — either with Ford as the main character or with LaBeouf.
"I don't think so. We're all getting too old," Marshall playfully reported. "We have to hand the [adventure] torch to somebody else. I don't know who that's going to be."
Perhaps, given that one of its supposed powers is the ability to see the future, Marshall could borrow Indy's crystal skull to divine the answer.
"Well, I did actually meet one," Marshall said of his onetime audience with the fabled artifact. "I've been in the presence of Max, the one from Texas. I went and visited him. The thing is, when you see it you go, 'How is that possible? Why isn't it just breaking apart?' So that's one of the elements of all the Indiana Jones movies: this kind of supernatural-plus-archaeological element that is present in all of the four movies now."
But, alas, laughed Marshall, if the crystal skull has any power at all, they're saving the big reveal for Indy.
"No," Marshall chuckled. "I don't feel any wiser after being in its presence."
Maybe the world will. We'll get our chance to find out when "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is released May 22.
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