Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny cast and director reflect on time and family in Indy's swan song

Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
(Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

"I always wanted to visit Indiana Jones towards the end of his career, towards the end of his life, and see the result of all of the adventures that we've had with him come to an emotional conclusion," Harrison Ford tells GamesRadar+ when we sit down together in London. We're here to talk about Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the fifth and final installment in the legendary franchise. 

"And so Jim [Mangold] developed a script that revolved around time and its many different aspects, which was really a wonderful adventure," continues Ford. "And I was thrilled to have the chance to revisit the character, and to bring another story to the people who have been so supportive of the films that we've made up to this point." 

Time twisting

Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones 5

(Image credit: Disney)

Dial of Destiny picks up in 1969, centering on an Indy who's not quite how we saw him last. He's on the brink of retirement from his teaching job, with seemingly no adventures left in him. "It's been going on for 42 years, and during that time, things have changed," says Ford of the franchise. "Age is about time. It's been 15 years since we made one of these movies, and I've changed a bit. I've grown older. In the earlier four films, they were made close enough to each other, so it wasn't such a big part of the story." 

The arrival of Indy's estranged goddaughter Helena Shaw (Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and the reappearance of the sinister Dr. Voller (Mads Mikkelsen in another villainous role) sets the explorer off on one final quest – this time for the Antikythera, an ancient device with the power to change the course of history. 

Despite the object's tremendous capabilities, though, director James Mangold – taking the reins from Steven Spielberg in a franchise first – doesn't think Dial of Destiny is actually about time travel. "It's a movie about time, and the past and the present, and the future, and the toll that our lives take on us, both achievements and regrets," he explains. "Whether we're a hero or a regular Joe, we all wrestle with our lives. And our lives are a thread from then until now."

For Waller-Bridge, Dial of Destiny's focus on time fits thematically with the rest of the series, too. "Time is at the very essence of every single Indiana Jones film there's been, because it's about the relationship between the past and the present, and then in turn the future as well," she says. "And I think that this film, in particular, brings that all together. Indy confronts his relationship with time, in terms of past and history, but also his own life. And I think that's a beautiful bringing together of all the things that have been through all the films." 

Family ties 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones 5

(Image credit: Disney)

Indy doesn't just have to face up to the passing of the years in Dial of Destiny, either, but also his own relationships – or lack thereof – with his loved ones. The fourth film in the series, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, ended with Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and Indy tying the knot, and it also introduced the adventurer's son Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf). Dial of Destiny doesn't shy away from these relationships, while the complex history between Indy and Helena is also explored. 

"One of the other things about this movie is that this is about family," says Ford. "This is about a family that – there's some bumps in the road here that have the opportunity to be addressed. At the end of one's life, or towards the end of one's life, you consider all of these things. You want to set things right. And I think we want to leave this character knowing not that he's going to be alright, but that he did the right thing – and the right thing happened to him." 

Ford also hopes that this theme stretches into real life, too. "I'm really going to encourage people to go to see this movie in the theater with their family," he says. "As far from your refrigerator as you can get. Go into a place with strangers. People you don't know, people who don't watch the same news that you do, maybe, or people that don't look like you or feel like you, and go into the dark and watch something together that's laughs and joy and heart, and feel your common humanity." After all, who better to spend a thrilling few hours with than Indiana Jones?

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is in UK cinemas now and hits US theaters on June 30. In the meantime, check out our guide to all of 2023's upcoming major movie release dates for everything else the year has in store. 

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Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.