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19 Whip-Cracking Facts You Never Knew About Indiana Jones

Flukes and scoops in honor of Indy’s just-announced fifth adventure.

The Indiana Jones team of producer George Lucas, director Steven Spielberg, and star Harrison Ford have just announced that they’re all back on board for a fifth big-screen adventure featuring the fedora-wearing, bullwhip-wielding archaeologist. The new film, which doesn’t yet have a title beyond Indiana Jones and the [Something of Something], will hit theaters on July 19, 2019.

To herald the arrival of a new globetrotting Indy epic, here are 19 facts, figures, and pulse-pounding inside stories about the most thrilling action franchise the movies has ever sent hurtling toward audiences like an ancient tribe’s giant-boulder-turned-burglar-alarm.

1. In 1981, Harrison Ford was 39 years old when he debuted as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. When the new film arrives, he’ll be 77.

2. To date, four actors have officially portrayed Indiana Jones. On the big screen, Harrison Ford is the most familiar, while River Phoenix cameos as teenaged Indy in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. For the 1992-93 ABC series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Sean Patrick Flannery donned the fedora to play Indiana from ages 17 to 21, while George Hall portrayed an elderly version of the character in the show’s wraparound segments.

3. Originally, the character was called Indiana Smith, and he was named after George Lucas’s Alaskan malamute, the same big, lovable dog that inspired Chewbacca and the Wookiees in Star Wars. Steven Spielberg changed the surname simply because he thought “Jones” sounded more distinctive than “Smith.”

4. The filmmakers’ first choice to portray Jones was actor and political activist, Peter Coyote, best known for portraying the kindly government scientist in E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).

5. After the studio rejected Coyote for not being a box office draw, Tom Selleck won the lead in Raiders. Fortunately for Harrison Ford, CBS refused to give Selleck the necessary time off from shooting his new hit series, Magnum, P.I. Footage exists of Selleck acting out Raiders scenes in full costume and character, and he certainly seems up to the job.

6. Not only are there more than 7,000 live snakes covering the floor of the Well of Souls in Raiders, but eagle-eyed fans can pick out an engraving of Star Wars droids C-3PO and R2-D2 on the wall.

7. Harrison Ford, unlike Indiana Jones, is not actually afraid of snakes. So that was all the magic of acting. Steven Spielberg, however, is terrified of heights, which became a factor he had to deal with throughout each movie-shoot.

8. The action in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) opens at Club Obi-Wan, yet another Star Wars Easter Egg in the Indy series.

9. Temple of Doom was the least successful installment of the initial Indiana Jones trilogy. Some point to co-screenwriter Willard Huyck, who penned the scripts for the three biggest bombs George Lucas ever produced: More American Graffiti (1979), Howard the Duck (1986), and Radioland Murders (1994).

10. Spielberg played an amazing prank on Harrison Ford during the shooting of Temple of Doom. While Ford was tied up, waiting to be whipped by Thugee strongmen, the crew set Barbra Streisand loose on the set. She cracked the whip and jokingly yelled at Ford, “That’s for Hanover Street—the worst movie I ever saw!”

11. The chilled brains served from monkey skulls at a lavish Indian dinner in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom are actually a tasty mixture of custard and raspberry sauce.

12. Although Spielberg never officially confirmed it, many believe Temple of Doom’s monkey brains scene was inspired by a similar scene in the cult shockumentary Faces of Death (1978), which exploded in popularity on VHS in the early ’80s.

13. Those monkey brains, along with a gory open-heart human sacrifice, incensed numerous parents upon Temple of Doom’s PG-rated arrival in theaters. Along with that same summer’s Spielberg-produced Gremlins, the resulting outrage prompted the MPAA to create a new classification for movies whose intensity landed them somewhere between PG and R. So thank Indiana Jones (and the Mogwai) for the PG-13 rating.

14. Steven Spielberg says Temple of Doom is his least favorite Indy movie, although he cherishes the experience for having introduced him to the film’s leading lady—and his wife of the past 30 years—Kate Capshaw.

15. The concept of Indiana Jones arose from Steven Spielberg telling George Lucas how badly he wanted to direct a James Bond film. Lucas suggested that instead of going the straight 007 route, they combine that classic international agent element with the spirit of classic Saturday afternoon movie serials from the 1930s and ’40s. Nonetheless, James Bond remained on Spielberg’s mind throughout each of the first two Indiana Jones movies.

16. After determining that Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade would focus on the hero’s relationship with his father, Spielberg said “only one person can play Indy’s father, and that’s James Bond. The original James Bond, the greatest James Bond, Sean Connery.”

17. Harrison Ford was 47 when Last Crusade opened. Sean Connery was 59—just twelve years older than the man playing his son. When the next movie debuts, Connery will be 89.

18. While filming Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Harrison Ford’s wardrobe measurements were the same as they were back on Raiders in 1981. When not surviving airplane crashes, Ford keeps himself in tip-top shape.

19. After an implausible scene where India survives a nuclear bomb blast by hiding inside a lead-lined refrigerator, the phrase “Nuke the fridge” joined “Jump the shark” in the popular vernacular to indicate something had gone on too long.