Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Would Have Looked a Lot Different If One ‘Batman Returns’ Actor Starred as Harrison Ford’s Side-kick

In 1981, at the height of a cinematic rejuvenation for Hollywood, Steven Spielberg, in collaboration with George Lucas birthed the Indiana Jones franchise. Spanning across the genres of adventure, sci-fi, and adventure, the series quickly climbed up in popularity.

Famed for its iconic scenes, visual imagery, and well-gelled storyline, it quickly branched into popular culture with television series, novels, comics, video games, and theme park attractions based upon it.

indiana jones and the raiders of the lost ark would have looked a lot different if one ‘batman returns’ actor starred as harrison ford’s side-kick

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom | Walt Disney Pictures

A major share of the success belonged to the leading man, Harrison Ford, and his acting prowess. The Han Solo actor brought with him his unique charisma that truly brought the fictional archaeologist to life. However, even he alone would not have catered to the storyline demands if not for his supporting cast, including his beloved sidekick Sallah.

Crafting a tale of mutual respect and unconditional friendship, the connection touched many hearts and sealed the deal for the franchise to grow. However, it would have looked very different if the filmmakers had their wishes fulfilled.

John Rhys-Davies was not the first choice to play Sallah

Sallah Mohammed Faisel el-Kahir played a pivotal role in the Indiana Jones franchise with his expertise and connections within the archeological community making him of indispensable value in-universe, whereas on-screen he helped bring out emotion and humor. Playing his part, John Rhys-Davies put his best foot forward and became synonymous with the role. However, at the start, the studio wanted Danny DeVito in his place.

indiana jones and the raiders of the lost ark would have looked a lot different if one ‘batman returns’ actor starred as harrison ford’s side-kick

John Rhys-Davies as Sallah in Indiana Jones | Walt Disney Entertainment

As per a detailed production history shared by All The Right Movies on X (formerly Twitter), Steven Spielberg settled for The Lords of the Kings actor after he successfully cleared the auditions. DeVito, on the other hand, had to turn down the role owing to a scheduling conflict with his ongoing TV show, Taxi. Moreover, a report by Empie also suggested that the actor’s quoted fees also led the studio to explore other options.

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indiana jones and the raiders of the lost ark would have looked a lot different if one ‘batman returns’ actor starred as harrison ford’s side-kick

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The Batman Returns actor has a vastly distinct stature and screen presence from Rhys-Davies and thus, would have made for a completely different canon that fans know and love now. While the latter brought a larger-than-life warmth to the character, the former might have leaned towards the cunning and street-smart aspects, considering the actor’s past experiences.

George Lucas initially denied Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

indiana jones and the raiders of the lost ark would have looked a lot different if one ‘batman returns’ actor starred as harrison ford’s side-kick

A still from Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny | Walt Disney Entertainment

In a similar fashion to his on-screen sidekick, Harrison Ford was not the first choice to play the protagonist either, with both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg eyeing Tom Selleck for the role. However, the actor’s commitment to Magnum P.I. came in the way. In turn, not only did the star seal himself as the main man of the franchise for decades but also proved the Star Wars creator’s comments of him becoming his Bobby DeNiro false.

“The argument was lost for good”: Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford Hijacked George Lucas’ Original Idea for Indiana Jones That Star Wars Creator Had to Silently Accept

Ford stayed in his role for five movies, with the last installment coming as recently as in 2023. However, unlike its predecessors, it failed to win over the audience. Disney’s poor marketing and several other reasons stood to blame. Regardless, the franchise has, as of now, a net worth of over a billion dollars and a cinematic value as one of the most recognized intellectual properties globally.

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