The rise of Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been remarkable to behold. After smashing the fourth wall and grabbing the world’s attention with Fleabag, then rejuvenating the small-screen spy drama with Killing Eve, she’s blasted off to a galaxy far, far away in android form in Solo: A Star Wars Story, hosted SNL, and brushed up 007’s dialogue in No Time To Die. Next stop: Indiana Jones 5, where she’ll play a pivotal part in Harrison Ford’s final fedora-topped outing. In Indy’s 1969-set adventure, she enters the fray as Helena – none other than Henry Jones Jr’s goddaughter.
“She’s a mystery and a wonder,” Waller-Bridge tells Empire, teasing her largely-under-wraps role. In fact, plenty of adjectives abound when describing Helena. According to incoming director James Mangold, she’s “slippery, charming, the girl next door, a grifter”. Per Harrison Ford himself, she’s “a pioneer in ethical accounting”. And for the actor, it all sprang from a conversation with legendary producer Kathleen Kennedy. “Kathy was in London and asked to have dinner with me, and casually mentioned this,” recalls Waller-Bridge. “I immediately ordered ten bottles of wine. Then it was the fastest I’ve ever read a script; I came out of a sort of haze afterwards. I just couldn’t believe how much fun I had and how moved I was by it. And then I had a Zoom and screamed, ‘YES!’ at them all.”
For Mangold, a key reference point for Waller-Bridge in bringing Helena to life was Barbara Stanwyck’s role in 1941 screwball comedy The Lady Eve (“I was like, ‘Oh yeah, sure, I’ll just do my Barbara Stanwyck’,” laughs Waller-Bridge. “IT’S AN IMPOSSIBLE FEAT.”) But among all the conning and the comedy also came the chance to leap into the kind of massive action set-piece that the Indiana Jones movies do best. “Honestly, I just loved it,” she says. “When you’re playing a character who throws herself on the back of a vehicle, there’s no acting around that. You just have to bloody do it.” The mystery and wonder of Helena is about to unfold.
For Empire’s full world-exclusive Indiana Jones 5 cover story, seek out the issue – packed with the very first images and interviews, speaking to Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Shaunette Renée Wilson, Boyd Holbrook, James Mangold, Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Simon Emanuel – when it hits newsstands on Thursday 24 November. Pre-order a copy online here. Indiana Jones 5 comes to UK cinemas on 30 June 2023.