James Mangold talks de-aging Indiana Jones for a 25-minute Dial of Destiny opening sequence

Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny will open with an all-out Indy escapade set in 1944, in a castle inhabited by Nazis. Much talk has already been made of the VFX that will digitally de-age Ford to the era of the original trilogy, or thereabouts. The trailer features a moment of gasp-worthy VFX magic when a bag is pulled from Indy’s head, revealing, well, a much younger Indiana Jones than we’ve seen for a while. 

The movie's director James Mangold tells Total Film magazine in the latest issue that there was nothing particularly unusual about the shooting of the scene. Harrison Ford (who could still fit in his original jacket) would act out the scene as normal, albeit with myriad dots on his face to capture the performance.

"I just shot him, and he just pretended that he was 35," says Mangold of his "incredibly gifted and agile" leading man. "But the technology involved is a whole other thing." 

Differentiating this de-ageing tech from other examples of the practice is the fact that Lucasfilm had reels and reels of footage of Ford in the role in his 30s and 40s. "We had hundreds of hours of footage of him in close-ups, in mediums, in wides, in every kind of lighting, night and day," says Mangold. The advancement of the technology also came with additional benefits. "I could shoot Harrison on a Monday as, you know, a 79-year-old playing a 35- year-old, and I could see dailies by Wednesday with his head already replaced," continues Mangold.

Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

(Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

This was especially helpful to save delays during the filming process, according to the director. "It wasn’t a year of effort to get to a first pass," Mangold adds. "It was an incredible technology, and, in many ways, I just didn’t think about it. I just focused on shooting what’s [approximately] a 25-minute opening extravaganza that was my chance to just let it rip. The goal was to give the audience a full-bodied taste of what they missed so much. Because then when the movie lands in 1969, they’re going to have to make an adjustment to what it is now, which is different from what it was."

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is released in UK cinemas on June 28. This is just a snippet of our interview with Mangold in the new issue of Total Film magazine. The full cover feature also includes insight from Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Boyd Holbrook, and Mads Mikkelsen. Pick up a copy of the magazine when it hits shelves (and digital newsstands) this Thursday, April 27. Check out the covers below:

Total Film's Indiana Jones covers.

(Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney/Total Film)

If you’re a fan of Total Film, why not subscribe so that you never miss an issue? You’ll get the magazine before it’s in shops, with exclusive subscriber-only covers (like the one pictured below). And with our latest offer you can get a free STM ChargeTree worth £69.99. Head to MagazinesDirect to find out more (Ts and Cs apply).

Total Film's latest subscription offer.

(Image credit: Total Film/STM/Lucasfilm/Disney)
Matt Maytum
Editor, Total Film

I'm the Editor at Total Film magazine, overseeing the running of the mag, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.

With contributions from