Harrison Ford scored ‘Indiana Jones’ after Tom Selleck turned it down


Tom Selleck almost became Karen Allen’s love interest when she was cast to play Marion Ravenwood in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

“Tom previously had done a pilot for ‘Magnum, P.I.’ before being asked to play Indiana Jones,” the actress explained to Fox News Digital. “And when you do a pilot, you sign a contract that, if it gets picked up, you’re committed. So, they picked up the pilot. They picked up his option, and he could no longer play Indiana Jones.

“I was already cast as Marion, but we still had no Indiana Jones,” the 72-year-old added.


A close-up of Karen Allen wearing glasses

Karen Allen attends the Los Angeles premiere of LucasFilm’s “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” at Dolby Theatre June 14, 2023, in Hollywood, Cailf. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Allen, who is looking back at her decades-long career in Hollywood, recently made a guest appearance on season 2 of Pure Flix’s “Going Home.” The series chronicles the lives of nurses who help guide patients in hospice.

Many fans still remember Allen playing the no-nonsense Ravenwood in the 1981 action-adventure flick. She said it took about a month after Selleck was forced to drop out of the film before Ford was considered for the role.

“Of course, they knew him very well from the ‘Star Wars’ films,” she explained. “George Lucas was also working on ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ I don’t think Harrison was the most obvious choice because he was already doing the ‘Star Wars’ films. And perhaps they thought viewers would see Han Solo, not Indiana Jones, on the screen. It didn’t seem possible. But it worked out. He was able to do both quite brilliantly.

Tom Selleck shirtless

Tom Selleck in “Magnum, P.I.” circa 1985. (Silver Screen Collection/Archive Photos)

“Tom wasn’t just considered; he was cast initially,” Allen shared. “He had the role. I have run into him several times since then. … I think one of the great regrets of his career is not having the chance to play Indiana Jones.”

Allen first met Ford on the set in London.

“My initial impression was that we came from very different backgrounds,” she explained. “I was coming from years of working in the theater. I was very used to rehearsing, and I loved working with other actors on scenes. Harrison very much liked to work in a more solitary way. Some actors like to work on their lines in their hotel rooms before they come on set. … I knew I was going to be working with someone who did things very differently from me.”


Karen smiling next to Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

Harrison Ford and Karen Allen on the set of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” (Sunset Boulevard/Corbis)

But Allen was in for a pleasant surprise.

“We were together for, gosh, I think four months straight just shooting,” she said. “We had a lot of fun together. The differences never got in our way. I made an adjustment to work on my own for the first time, which was a skill I hadn’t developed before. I don’t think I ever worked with anyone who didn’t just dive into rehearsing first. Theater actors are just dying to play around the scenes, rehearse and improvise. He didn’t have any interest in doing that at all. He would stay in his dressing room or hotel room, study his lines and come prepared. That was his way as an actor.”

Harrison Ford acting out a scene from Indiana Jones

Karen Allen learned a different approach to acting with Harrison Ford’s help. (CBS)

“Raiders of the Lost Ark” nabbed a best picture Oscar nomination and several sequels. Allen reprised her role in 2008’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and 2023’s “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.”

Karen Allen attending to Harrison Fords wound as Indiana Jones

“Raiders of the Lost Ark” premiered on June 12, 1981. (CBS)

“It was pure fun,” Allen said of appearing in the fifth and final film. “When they cast me as Marion Ravenwood, I knew she would only be in the first one. … And that was OK with me. So, I was surprised when I got the call to be part of another film. I was quite moved by it, actually. … I always had this very strong feeling that Indiana Jones was the love of Marion’s life. So I was quite delighted by it.”

Before “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Allen’s breakout role was in 1978’s “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” She described being elated to work alongside John Belushi.

“Back in the ‘70s, everything and everyone stopped for ‘Saturday Night Live,’” she chuckled. “Everyone watched it. It didn’t matter if you were at a party. When that show started, everyone stopped what they were doing and tuned in. And John Belushi was a brilliant comedian. ‘Animal House’ was the very first script I’d ever read. I don’t even know if I knew how to read a script at that time. I had auditioned many times for the role, which Universal was reluctant to give me because I’d never made a film before. But I got it, and I had a great impression of John Belushi. He was the real deal.”


The cast of Animal House huddling on the street

From left: Kevin Bacon, Karen Allen, Mary Louise Weller, John Belushi and wife Judy Belushi. (Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection)

Allen went on to befriend Belushi and his wife after filming. Belushi died in 1982 at age 33 from a drug overdose.

“I thoroughly enjoyed his enthusiasm for life,” Allen reflected. “He had a wonderful sense of humor, and he was so complex as a person. Just watching him improvise was great fun. We both had this incredible love for the blues. He really had a passion for it. I lived not far from John and his wife in New York City. Sometimes, they would swing by my apartment and say, ‘We’re going to hear this great blues harp player. Want to come along with us?’ They always included me in their love of the blues. I was very sad when he died. He had a beautiful energy.”

John Belushi in character from Animal House

John Belushi died in 1982. He was 33. (Getty Images)

Allen has stayed busy acting over the years. She recently starred in 2022’s “A Stage of Twilight” alongside William Sadler. She described how “Going Home” has been one of the highlights of her career.

Karen Allen in a scene from Going Home

Karen Allen (left) is guest starring in season 2 of “Going Home” on Pure Flix. (Great American Pure Flix)

“This is a very important story to tell,” she explained. “End of life is something that we as a society don’t feel comfortable talking about, especially when it comes to our family and loved ones. But it’s very much needed. It’s a story that truly moved me. I played a mother who was told that she had some serious health issues. She tries to hide it, but not successfully. … I don’t watch a lot of television. So, I knew if I was going to do it, it had to be something I felt strongly about.

Karen Allen being embraced by Harrison Ford

Karen Allen at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 alongside Harrison Ford. Allen has stayed busy acting over the years. (Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP)

“And I’m all for family-friendly programming,” she continued. “Especially when it comes to the home. When I flip around the channels, which isn’t that often, I find that there’s an awful lot of content that’s just filled with violence. It’s profoundly different from what kids were exposed to back in the day. So, if there’s a network that’s willing to offer storytelling for the whole family, I’m all for it. I think it’s great to have programming that you can watch with your children, no matter their age. Programming that won’t cause anxiety or fear. … It’s very much needed today.


“I juggle a lot of things, and I try to find time for myself and my family when [I’m not acting],” she shared. “It’s a complicated little world sometimes. But it’s been a joy.”

“Going Home” is available for streaming on Pure Flix.


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