Harrison Ford, Mads Mikkelsen, and more reflect on the final Indiana Jones adventure, Dial Of Destiny

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

“If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones.” So said the famous tagline on the poster for 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the second film in the franchise created by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Now the world’s most famous archaeologist is back for one final hurrah, in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. And so Harrison Ford, who has stated that this is his last outing as the character, is back donning that hat and cracking that whip once again.

His last venture was 2008’s much-maligned Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. So, can adventure still have a name when Indy’s pushing seventy? Ford definitely thinks so. “This is not an endless stream of jokes about old farts and that kind of thing,” he says, kicking back in the Carlton Hotel the day after the film’s world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. “This is more complex and textured. And I owe that to what Jim accomplished in the screenplay.”

Following in Spielberg's footsteps

Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones 5

(Image credit: Disney)

“Jim” is James Mangold, the director of films including Ford v. Ferrari and Walk The Line, who becomes the first filmmaker to step into Spielberg’s shoes and direct an Indy instalment. After four previous outings with the ’Berg at the helm, was it strange for Ford to be without his main man? “It was all strange. It’s always been strange. But we have a long relationship, Steven and I, and Steven has incredible grace and generosity at his core and we talked a lot. Steven’s fingerprints are all over this movie... [and] not in a bad way!”

Mangold already has experience of taking on an iconic character in his later years, directing Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in the 2017 film Logan. But how did he feel following Spielberg? “We’re following the DNA of something he built with you many years ago,” he says. “You’re having a continuous dialogue. I mean, I often say in regard to Steven that I’ve been learning from him long before I met him. I was making Super 8 movies and watching his films and studying them shot by shot. This became an opportunity, this film, to meet your heroes on an equal footing and play with them… which is a kind of a dream!”

Entering Indy's world

Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Helena in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

(Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

Even for experienced actors, entering the world of Indiana Jones for the first time, it felt like a dream come true. “When I was 15, I rented a movie box as we call it – five films – with my brother,” explains incoming Danish star Mads Mikkelsen. The second movie in the box? It was 1981’s Raiders Of The Lost Ark, the first time Ford took on the role. “We didn’t watch the other ones. We just watched that one.” Who can blame them?

This time around, Indy is living in 1969 New York on his own and lecturing to a bunch of students who don’t care for his knowledge. His adventuring days seem to be behind him, until his goddaughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) turns up, looking for an artefact, Archimedes’ Dial, which can pinpoint fissures in time. As they travel to Morocco and Greece, they’re joined by Helena’s sidekick Teddy (Etthan Isidore) in a race to find the Dial before Jürgen Voller (Mikkelsen), a former Nazi who has helped the U.S. win the Space Race.

Indy vs. the Nazis

Indiana Jones 5

(Image credit: Disney)

Indy has faced Nazis throughout the franchise, right back to Raiders when he battled them for the Ark of the Covenant. But he maybe hasn’t met an adversary quite as chilling as Voller. “Like Indy, he has this passion, he has this dream, to make the world a better place,” says Mikkelsen. Quite what he’s planning to do with the Dial is too spoilery to say, but his plans would be catastrophic for world peace. 

Ford felt Jones’ hatred of Nazis had to be rooted in something real – in this case the nature of evil. “Something that Jim and I talked about before the movie started, which made its way into the film and in a line of dialogue, is that ‘I’ve seen a lot of things in my life that I can’t explain.’” Anger boils as Ford thinks about the ongoing Russian invasion of the Ukraine. “I can’t understand why we’re fucking sitting here, and that war is going on right over there. And we allow it. And we go on and act like it’s not fucking there.”

Embracing your childhood

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

(Image credit: LucasFilm)

As serious as Ford is, his co-stars are full of praise for his childish side. “He is the youngest person I’ve ever met,” says Mikkelsen. “He’s 80-years-old and he behaves like a 16-year-old boy. It’s insane. At the press conference, my name comes up, people start clapping and he just whacks me! This is just inappropriate 16-year-old boy [behaviour]! And so you don’t feel it. You feel a man full of passion standing right in front of you. This is what he is! He’s the annoying big brother. I might be the little brother.”

For the actual 16 year-old Isidore, who is half-Brazilian and half-Mauritian, he got advice from Ford on set. “We had a little conversation, and he said, actually, that being an actor is a little bit like being a child, but you get paid for it. And it’s really true. I mean, I think he’s right when he says that. When you’re an actor, you keep playing with your imagination, and having fun with people who play also with their imagination. And I think it brings you back to your childhood.”  

I think it brings you back to your childhood

Naturally, comparisons are being made to Isidore and Ke Huy Quan, who starred in Temple of Doom as the sidekick Short Round and most recently made a glorious comeback, winning an Oscar for Everything Everywhere All At Once. “Harrison told me something very sweet when we were on the [Palais] stairs at Cannes. He told me that Ke Huy Quan was as excited as me for the premiere of Indiana Jones [and the Temple of Doom] and he told me ‘look where he is now.’ And I was like, ‘wow!’ I wanted to cry. But I kept my tears in. Because I had the photos to do. But it was very sweet of him!” 

Moving forward

Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

(Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

So what did Spielberg make of the final cut? “He was really happy with the movie,” reports Mangold. “He didn’t only see the final cut, he came and visited many times and was watching dailies as we were shooting and even on weekends when he was shooting The Fabelmans, he and I would talk and check in or he’d just report what he saw and liked. It was the least politically complicated movie I’ve ever been part. That makes no sense if you look at the players involved but it’s absolutely true!” 

As for Mikkelsen, his time on the film adds another remarkable franchise to his name. He has already graced the worlds of Star Wars (Rogue One), James Bond (Casino Royale), Marvel (Doctor Strange), and Harry Potter (Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore) on film, as well as play Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the TV show Hannibal. Is there another franchise he’s got his eye on? “It’s not a real franchise but if you talk about genre... I always wanted to be a zombie.” Maybe he could play a Nazi zombie? “A Danish Nazi zombie – why didn’t I think of that?”  

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny hits UK cinemas this June 28 and US theaters on June 30. In the meantime, check out our guide to all the upcoming major movie release dates for everything else 2023 has in store. 

Freelance writer

James Mottram is a freelance film journalist, author of books that dive deep into films like Die Hard and Tenet, and a regular guest on the Total Film podcast. You'll find his writings on GamesRadar+ and Total Film, and in newspapers and magazines from across the world like The Times, The Independent, The i, Metro, The National, Marie Claire, and MindFood.