Indiana Jones actor Karen Allen: "I was cast as Marion and we had no Indy"

Indiana Jones
(Image credit: LucasFilm)

Harrison Ford was famously a last-minute choice for Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, reportedly cast only three weeks before filming began. 

"I didn’t test with Tom Selleck," Marion actor Karen Allen tells SFX Magazine, remembering the most talked-about near-miss for the starmaking role. 

"By the time I met Steven [Spielberg] and he wanted me to come out to Los Angeles and do a screen test, Tom Selleck had fallen out of the picture. I guess they picked up his option for Magnum PI and they wouldn’t let him out to do the film. 

"And so they had no Indy and no Marion. They brought me out and I tested with Tim Matheson, who had been in Animal House with me, and with an actor named John Shea, who I knew a little bit just from the New York acting world. I’ve come to know that Sam Elliott tested, Jeff Bridges tested. 

“At a certain point I was cast as Marion and we had no Indy, and they were meeting with and looking at an awful lot of actors. I’m sure that Harrison had occurred to them but I think they were probably thinking well, he’s playing Han Solo, and maybe for him to be doing two of those multi-film roles was not going to be a good thing. But of course it turned out okay! Turned out he was really good as both Han Solo and Indiana Jones."

From there, history was made, and now Ford is returning to play Indiana Jones in the upcoming fifth instalment in the series. Allen last appeared as Marion in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but there's no word on whether she will reprise the role for the next movie.

For the full interview with Allen and a full retrospective on Raiders, pick up the new issue of SFX Magazine, which features Masters of the Universe: Revelation on the cover, available from Wednesday, July 14. Subscribe here and never miss an issue. 

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Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.