Harrison Ford's Behind-The-Scenes Stories Of Making The ‘Indiana Jones’ Films

Harrison Ford is an action film legend that somehow managed to top the success of his role as space smuggler Han Solo with an even more recognizable role in the span of just a couple of years - Indiana Jones.

Ford isn't the biggest fan of talking to the press, but when he does, his blunt honesty and carefree attitude make for great storytelling. This especially goes for the times he has shared juicy anecdotes from behind the scenes of Indiana Jones. From accidental illnesses to brutal injuries to risqué wardrobe choices, Ford's tales from the days of shooting Indy are as intriguing as the film series itself. 

Photo: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade/Paramount Pictures

  • His Scar Was Woven Into Indiana's Backstory

    His Scar Was Woven Into Indiana's Backstory
    Photo: Paramount

    One of Harrison Ford's most identifying features is the scar on his chin. In reality, he received it during a car accident, but the filmmakers behind Indiana Jones decided that it could be a fun part of Indiana's backstory, too. In the first 10 minutes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a young Indiana played by River Phoenix goes through a series of obstacles running away from bad guys on a circus train. He eventually runs into a lion, and his trusty whip.

    According to Indiana lore, this first crack at the whip is how the character gets the scar.

  • For Ford And Connery, Pants Were Optional

    For Ford And Connery, Pants Were Optional
    Photo: Paramount

    A movie set is not always the most comfortable place to be, especially when it's a hot day. The bright lights required to make a scene come alive on film can often cause on-set temperatures to soar. It's because of this that Ford and co-star Sean Connery decided to film the zeppelin scene in The Last Crusade without any pants on, since the blocking didn't require them to get up at any point.

  • He Faced Deadly Snakes, And Kind Of Enjoyed It

    He Faced Deadly Snakes, And Kind Of Enjoyed It
    Photo: Paramount

    Cobras are one of the deadliest snakes out there, but that didn't stop Ford from facing one in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The character was given a fear of snakes for both comedic effect and to add a layer of relatability. In addition to having a hospital gurney on standby, the crew put a plate of glass between the snake and Ford for added security.

    But Ford in truth wasn't that fussed. He confessed in his biography, "They don't bother me at all. When I was a kid, I worked in a boy scout camp as a nature counselor, I used to collect them. And I'm amazed that that's the most frightening scene for most people."

  • He Taught Short Round How To Swim

    He Taught Short Round How To Swim
    Photo: Paramount

    Ford has a lot of skills under his cap - carpentry and piloting aircraft to name two - but the one that Temple of Doom star Jonathan Ke Quan, AKA Short Round, remembers most fondly is his aquatic teaching chops. While shooting on location in Sri Lanka, Ford and his miniature sidekick had a lot of downtime, so Ford decided to show The Goonies star how to swim.

    "Afterwards all of us would head back to the same hotel and we would eat together, play," recalls Ke Quan. "I love the man. I had a wonderful time working with him. To be able to work with him on any movie I think is the best thing that can happen to any actor."

  • Dysentery Canceled An Epic Sword Fight

    Dysentery Canceled An Epic Sword Fight
    Photo: Paramount

    The comically brief battle between a street assassin with sword skills and Indiana with his pistol has gone down as one of the best scenes in the Indiana Jones franchise - and it was all due to a surprise illness. "It was meant to be the ultimate duel between sword and whip. And I was suffering from dysentery, really, found it inconvenient to be out of my trailer for more than 10 minutes at a time," Ford said. 

    The actor voiced regret in not letting the stunt man have his time to shine, but this happy accident turned out for the better story-wise.

  • He Was Nearly Run Over By A Plane

    He Was Nearly Run Over By A Plane
    Photo: Paramount

    He may be one of the toughest action stars in movie history, but he's not impervious to pain and injury. Throughout his career, Ford has endured injuries and walked them off like a trooper, and the filming of Indiana Jones was no exception.

    "On the first Indiana Jones movie, I tore an ACL in one of my knees, can't remember which knee," Ford wrote in a Reddit AMA. "The scene in which I was fighting the big German mechanic on an airplane called a flying wing, I was run over by the landing gear and injured my knee. But I can't remember which one it was. Lots of bumps and injuries along the way."