Words from this article first appeared in issue 227 of Empire magazine. Subscribe to Empire today.
A Race Against Evil
Steven Spielberg: We went back again to that whole storyline about the Monkey King from Chinese mythology. We had a really good ghost story set in a Scottish castle - it was going to be Indiana Jones and ghosts. We even had a story about Indiana Jones and Tibet. Then George came up with the idea that Indiana Jones goes after the Holy Grail. I immediately said, "Does that mean that jugular-biting white rabbits are going to come flying out of caves?" As far as I'm concerned, the Holy Grail remains defined by the Pythons. And George said, "This is going to be serious."
George Lucas: With Last Crusade, we decided to go back to our roots. We came back to the Holy Grail - I call it the 'Chalice From The Palace' - which we had rejected a couple of times as being too ethereal. It had to have some power, so we invented qualities to make it important.
Frank Marshall (Producer): Crusade wasn't a reaction to the darkness of Temple Of Doom, it was just the third part of the trilogy. Everybody signed on to do three movies. George and Steven were always thinking ahead to what the next movie was going to be, and certainly had the addition of Indy's father in mind.
"He wanted to talk to me about a film. I had no idea it was Indiana Jones." Sean Connery Harrison Ford: We wanted to progress the character, to get to know him better, find new levels within him. Of course, the action got bigger and better, but it was about going places with the character. One of the things I love about the third film is that it is a relationship film, between a son and a father. Who's going to come save you, junior?Spielberg: The dad thing was my idea. The Grail doesn't offer a lot of special effects and doesn't promise a huge physical climax. I just thought that the Grail that everybody seeks could be a metaphor for a son seeking reconciliation with a father and a father seeking reconciliation with a son. It also gave me a chance to suggest Sean Connery. Who else but Bond could have been worthy enough to play Indiana Jones' dad?
Ford: There were some other thoughts. There was an early concept of Indiana's father as a wise old Yoda type. I don't think that would have worked as well as having somebody of the strength of Sean. Sean Connery: I was doing a film with Peter Hyams, The Presidio. Peter knows Steven, and said that he wanted to talk to me about a film. I had no idea it was Indiana Jones.
Kathleen Kennedy (Associate Producer): With Bond being the inspiration behind the whole series to begin with, it was just a great way to pull that all together. Connery: They had to be very sure what they were going for. A more academic-type casting would have been somebody like Gregory Peck, but you needed somebody that Harrison could bounce off. Henry had to be something pretty special to produce Indy. Also, he had to be something different. When Indy says, "You never talked to me," I say, "Well, you weren't interesting until you were 19." Which is right below the belt, but probably right on the nose.
Spielberg: It was an emotional story but I didn't want to get sentimental. Their disconnection from each other was the basis for a lot of comedy. And it gave Tom Stoppard, who was uncredited, a lot to write. Tom is pretty much responsible for every line of dialogue.
Connery: I got on famously with Steven, and speak with him often. There was no seduction talk, no movie-star stuff. And Harrison's a pro, he's terrific. We got a really good relationship going.
John Rhys-Davies (Sallah): It was very interesting to see the way that the very determined, assertive young Harrison had matured into the laidback superstar who allowed himself to be upstaged by a man he obviously adored and revered. I mean, as alpha males go, Connery really in his time has to be the ultimate.
The Jones Boys
Ford: Some of those scenes were like vaudeville routines. It was great fun working on that stuff with Sean.
Spielberg: Sean was in a great mood most of the movie because he was able to be funny. He was able to use his comedic skills, and Harrison was in a fantastic mood because he was able to be the foil for the father. It was the most fun we had between actors in all of these movies.
Michael Byrne (Vogel): It's like a pantomime, really, with Sean Connery playing the dame and Harrison being the principle boy.
Alison Doody (Dr. Elsa Schneider): That kiss where I bite Indy's lower lip was Steven's idea. We tried to work out how I should approach the two of them because they were both tied up and both sitting down. We played around with it for a while, which wasn't a chore. Then Sean thought I should also kiss him, but Steven disagreed.
Ford: It was just really great to work with an actor who doesn't give a shit. I don't mean about the craft, but about his ego. We just clicked.
Connery: There was just stuff one could find while shooting. I'm racing along on that motorbike, in the sidecar, and Indy's thrilled with himself and all I do is look at my watch: "What time is it? What are we doing in this stupid place?"
Julian Glover (Walter Donovan): My favourite memory is Sean making up that line, "She talks in her sleep." It was on the spot. Harrison said, "How did you know she's a Nazi?" and he said that, and they had to stop filming. Everybody just fell on the floor and Steven said, "Well, that's in."
Nazis? I Hate Those Guys
"Sean was in a great mood most of the movie because he was able to be funny." Steven Spielberg Doody: I remember the audition with Steven and George. Steven gave me a broom-handle and said, "Come in and pretend it's a gun." I thought, this girl isn't so straightforward.Glover: I don't know if Donovan was a nice man, but not many people can say they shot Sean Connery.
Doody: With Elsa being a bad girl, a Nazi, it really was designed to veer away from the damsel-in-distress from Temple Of Doom.
Glover: The Grail diary was unbelievably detailed, an extraordinary piece of work. Someone slaved away for months, I'm sure. I don't know what happened to it. Maybe it ended up in Harrison's museum.
Doody: In Venice, no-one told me how to drive the boat. I had to go at speed towards another boat with a camera on it, and behind the camera were Steven and the big honchos from the studio, and then George Lucas and Frank Marshall. I was supposed to get this signal to veer left, but I left it a bit late, Steven starts shouting, "Away! Away! Away!" I could see all of them panicking.
Connery: Steven was marvellous for ideas. You only have to look at the sequence where I'm in the tank. It was originally scheduled for a day, two days maybe. I think it went to seven days in the end.
Vic Armstrong (Stunt Co-ordinator): My lasting impression of Steven was in Almería on The Last Crusade. He always wanted to have good light. For an hour before sunset you ran your bollocks off. Steven's coming along on his quad saying, "Come on guys, come on guys, you're killing me, we've got to move faster."
Doody: We were in Spain, and there was this dinner with Harrison and Sean - Frank Marshall was there, Steven and some of the other males in the cast, and I was the only woman at the table being looked after by all these men. I thought, "This is great!"
Spielberg: We had a great preview. Nobody wanted to change anything except George and me. The studio was ecstatic and the audience gave us a bunch of unprecedented scores. But George and I were troubled that the end of the second act was rather word-heavy, so we concocted a couple of new set-pieces - especially the motorcycle chase, which we shot up near where George lives in Northern California.
Glover: I'm convinced it is the best one. It's a love story between two men. Between Harrison and Sean. This brings it way beyond the other two. The central story is so strong and interesting. And funny - they're so naughty, the two of them.
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