Why Harrison Ford Wasn’t the First Pick to be Indiana Jones

May 19, 2021

Photo of Harrison Ford

After Harrison Ford became one of the stars of Star Wars in 1977, he soon became the pick of Steven Spielberg to be Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981. But George Lucas, who was the co-writer on Raiders of the Lost Ark, wasn’t keen on casting him in the movie.

Since Ford had already been in two of his movies, Lucas said, “I don’t want him to be my Bobby De Niro.” This was a reference to how Robert De Niro had been in many of Martin Scorsese’s movies. So the production team set up a screen test with another popular actor of the time, Tom Selleck. Lucas and Spielberg thought Selleck was a perfect fit and offered him the lead role in the movie.

But Selleck had a problem. He was already on a hit CBS show called Magnum P.I. Spielberg, and Lucas tried to negotiate with the network and even held out an offer to Selleck for about a month, but the network wouldn’t give in. Selleck had to turn down the offer because of his contractual obligation to the network. Ford went on to get the lead part in was what to become a $1.8 billion franchise. The screen test for Selleck in what could have been is below.

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Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium, our ad-free subscription sites (you can find out how to join below). I hope you find things here to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge.

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