Dialogue: Karen Allen on the Past, Present and Future of Indiana Jones' Greatest Love

Dialogue: Karen Allen on the Past, Present and Future of Indiana Jones' Greatest Love

Sep 18, 2012


Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures Blu-ray set releases today, and – in celebration – we spoke with Marion Ravenwood herself, actress Karen Allen. Any child of the '80s knows what a squeal-worthy moment this was for us – Allen's role as Indy's sassy, smart, butt-kicking love interest in 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark is iconic.

That enduring love is, perhaps, part of what brought her back 27 years later to reprise the role in the fourth Indiana Jones film, 2008's Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Allen lent insight into her character's all-too-rare attributes, working with Steven Spielberg back when he was an up-and-coming director, her enduring relationship with costar Harrison Ford, the cast's interest in returning for a fifth installment of the franchise and how she'd pick up Indy and Marion's relationship from where it left off at the end of Crystal Skull.


Movies.com: Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of those films you watch and say, "They don't make movies like this anymore!” and Marion Ravenwood’s character follows suit similarly. She's both badass and human. Why doesn't it feel like female protagonists these days get to be both?

Karen Allen: I know! They're all, like, superhuman. [Laughs] They kick their leg and a person goes flying across the room.

Movies.com: Marion was a childhood idol right up there with Pippi Longstocking, Elizabeth Bennet and Anne Shirley. It's unclear if girls have characters like that to look up to now – it's like they can be super tough or human, but not both.

Allen: I agree with that – I think that that's hard to find for some reason, I don't know why. Because it's a very appealing combination for somebody to be – scaled down to that human place. It's what they did with Indiana Jones, as well – Harrison is cast as this sort of action hero and yet he's all too human. Nothing ever quite goes right for him! And yet, he's not trying to be funny – it sort of finds that fine line.

Movies.com: You've worked with Steven Spielberg twice now – with 27 years separating the collaborations. What changes did you see in him as a director when you reunited for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?

Allen: I think all of us were much more relaxed. When we were doing Raiders of the Lost Ark… I think I felt a certain amount of anxiety because I wasn't very experienced as an actor, and this was a film on a pretty large scope, and it was a whole new world for me. And Steven had done Jaws, he'd done Close Encounters of the Third Kind, he was really kind of coming into his own as a filmmaker in a really wonderful way. But I just remember there being a kind of intensity on the set in Raiders of the Lost Ark that – when we went to start shooting Crystal Skull – there was more a sense of familiarity. We came together as friends to work… as opposed to us all being at a bit of a starting-out point in our careers, we were all at a place where we had a lot of work behind us.

Movies.com: How did you reacquaint yourself with Marion after 27 years? Did she ever really leave you?

Allen: The film had traveled with me, really. I’d done a lot of other film, but Raiders was one of those films that was just never really gonna leave my world, and I didn't want it to, really. I love the film and I love the character. And so when I was asked to do Crystal Skull, I hadn't seen the film in a couple of years, and I did go back and I watched it a few times. But I never felt like she was really very far away – I felt like it was something that had stayed very much in my cells.

Movies.com: What about a fifth Indy movie? Would you be game for that?

Allen: I would! And I in fact just talked with Steven Spielberg recently - we e-mailed back and forth, and I said, "What should I say? I'm doing this publicity, what should I say if people ask me that question?" And he said, "It's in George's [Lucas] hands! I'm game, Harrison's game, and now it's up to George to write the script or to get the script organized, and the story." And so I think it's - they want to do a fifth, from what I understand, but they don't want to do it just to do it, they want to do it if they can come up with a story that everybody is happy with and that everybody likes.

Movies.com: How much of the argumentative chemistry that you have with Harrison is based on the way the two of you interact in real life? Do you two stay in touch?

Allen: You know, because he lives in Los Angeles and – is it up in Montana or Wyoming? And because I live in New York and Massachusetts, our lives don't cross paths a lot. There was a period of time where we both lived here in New York just a few blocks away from each other, and I literally used to run into him on the street occasionally! I wish our paths did cross more often, I would really enjoy seeing him more often than I actually do.

Movies.com: What do you think Indy and Marion are doing together now that they're married? If you could write that into the next script, where would you pick up where Crystal Skull left off?

Allen: That's something to ponder! I'm really quite fascinated – the film ends like that moment in The Graduate! [Laughs] I think they have known each other for such a long time and it'd be so interesting to – I can't even quite imagine, I'd love to see the scene where he asked her to marry him. Or maybe she asks him. Who knows?


Categories: Features, Interviews
blog comments powered by Disqus

Facebook on Movies.com