The casting of Indiana Jones is one of Hollywood's great folk tales. Spielberg suggested Harrison Ford to George Lucas after a countrywide search to find an unknown (or "Johnny, a construction worker for Malibu" as Spielberg was prone to say) proved fruitless. Yet Lucas nixed the idea, having already used the actor twice before. Among the young actors who subsequently auditioned were Tim Matheson, Peter Coyote (who Spielberg later remembered for the role of Keys in E.T.), John Shea and Tom Selleck.
Selleck, at that time the Marlboro Man on countless freeway billboards, was offered the role, then in the kind of cruel twist of fate that kills careers, CBS TV picked up the option of a pilot Selleck had just made, Magnum PI. The final irony was that an actor's strike delayed the start of Magnum's filming meaning that, because Raiders, shooting in Europe far away from Union regulations, Selleck could have done the role after all. Showing he has a sense of humour about it all, Selleck appeared in an episode of Magnum that parodied Raiders with riffs on the hat, the whip and booby traps.
With less than six weeks to go before shooting, Spielberg found the solution to his problem at the London premiere of The Empire Strikes Back: re-enter Harrison Ford. The rest is history.
The casting of Marion Ravenwood took place in unusual surroundings: the Lucasfilm kitchen, with actors scheduled for morning auditions asked to prepare food, actors invited in the afternoon invited to eat the food. Amy Irving was the first choice for Indy's spirited love interest but lost out on the part.
Debra Winger and Sean Young also tested, Winger passing due to scheduling conflicts. After Spielberg saw her in National Lampoon's Animal House, Karen Allen was brought in to play opposite Tim Matheson and John O'Shea, using the first meeting between Indy and Marion as an audition piece.
Danny DeVito was originally Spielberg's first choice to play Egypt's best digger yet the actor proved too expensive. Spielberg rethought the character as a robust, pirate type figure and cast John Rhys-Davies after seeing him in '80s miniseries Shogun.
After Spielberg considered then rejected French crooner Jacques Dutronc and Italian Giancarlo Gianni (Mathis in Casino Royale) for the role of the smooth, collaborating archaeologist, he landed on British actor Paul Freeman - Spielberg saw him in controversial docudrama Death Of A Princess and was captivated by his piercing eyes.
Sharon Stone (pictured) was among the hundreds of actresses that Spielberg saw for high maintenance chanteuse Willie Scott. He eventually settled on Kate Capshaw, best known at that time for her role in daytime soap Edge Of Night, but only after one important change. Lucas was adamant that Willie be a blonde to contrast with Marion's dark locks so Capshaw's brunette hair had a run-in with a bottle of peroxide.
The search for Indy's sidekick took in 6000 children worldwide with the winner turning up in Spielberg's backyard of Los Angeles. Ke Huy Quan turned up to an audition, only initially to accompany his brother. When Spielberg spotted the boisterous kid, he set up an improv with Harrison Ford in which Short Round would accuse Indy of cheating at cards - it is the scene that is in the finished film, played out round the campfire.