Next June, Harrison Ford will be returning to one of his most iconic roles as Indiana Jones in the highly anticipated fifth film of the adventure movie franchise. And Disney is hoping Indy looks exactly like you remember him. In a cover story for Empire Magazine, film director James Mangold revealed that the movie’s opening sequence will feature Ford digitally de-aged to his original film trilogy appearance.
Mangold told Empire that the film begins in 1944, between the years depicted in 1989’s “The Last Crusade” and 2008’s “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” In the sequence, the 80-year-old Ford is de-aged to look like a 40something as Indy investigates a castle swarming with Nazis.
“I wanted the chance to dive into this kind of full-on George-and-Steven old picture and give the audience an adrenaline blast,” Mangold told Empire. “And then we fall out, and you find yourself in 1969. So that the audience doesn’t experience the change between the ‘40s and ‘60s as an intellectual conceit, but literally experiences the buccaneering spirit of those early days… and then the beginning of now.”
The digital de-aging was accomplished through new software by Industrial Light & Magic that matches archived footage of the younger Ford to the newly shot footage. The original jacket from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was also pulled out of storage and replicated thread-by-thread for the new sequence.
“My hope is that, although it will be talked about in terms of technology, you just watch it and go, ‘Oh my God, they just found footage. This was a thing they shot 40 years ago,’” producer and Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy said. “We’re dropping you into an adventure, something Indy is looking for, and instantly you have that feeling, ‘I’m in an Indiana Jones movie.’”
De-aging is now fairly commonplace in blockbuster cinema, with franchises using it to capture fans’ nostalgia for their original installments. Indy’s fellow Lucasfilm franchise “Star Wars” has made it a common practice to de-age actors or use virtual replacements, including for films like “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and Disney+ series such as “The Mandalorian” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” Other Disney franchises, including many Marvel films, have used similar de-aging technology for flashback scenes to recapture the younger appearances of the film’s stars.
“This is the first time I’ve seen it where I believe it,” Ford said about seeing the footage of him de-aged for the first time. “It’s a little spooky. I don’t think I even want to know how it works, but it works. Doesn’t make me want to be young, though. I’m glad to have earned my age.”
Ford will be joined in “Indiana Jones 5” by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, John Rhys-Davies, Mads Mikkelsen, Boyd Holbrook, Thomas Kretschmann, Toby Jones, and Antonio Banderas. Mangold directs a script he co-wrote with Jez and John-Henry Butterworth. Original series director Steven Spielberg produces the film with Kennedy, while John Williams returns to compose the score. The fifth “Indiana Jones” film whips into theaters June 30, 2023.