“The movie is very ugly”: George Lucas Nearly Derailed Harrison Ford’s $2B Indiana Jones Franchise Because of His Own Personal Tragedy That Scared Away Screenwriter

George Lucas Nearly Derailed Harrison Ford's $2B Indiana Jones Franchise Because of His Own Personal Tragedy That Scared Away Screenwriter
Featured Video

Among the original three Indiana Jones movies, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom often stands out as the odd one. While the first installment, Raiders of the Lost Ark, was hailed for its freshness and excitement, the second movie took a somewhat darker turn. Despite being rated PG (before the introduction of PG-13), it pushed boundaries with its graphic content, sometimes resembling a horror film rather than the thrilling adventure fans expected.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Co-creator George Lucas attributed the film’s darker tone to personal circumstances and a desire to explore edgier themes.

READ MORE: “I don’t remembered what people thought”: Indiana Jones 5 Star Harrison Ford Not Sure if Fans Loved ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’


Why did the writer feel like the movie was ‘ugly?’

George Lucas, going through a divorce at the time, acknowledged that the story ended up being far bleaker than intended. This resulted in intense scenes such as a heart being ripped out and a man’s agonizing descent into lava. Another notable sequence involved a henchman being steamrolled to death, followed by a climactic scene featuring soldiers being devoured by alligators.

“The story ended up being a lot darker than we intended it to be. Part of it is that I was going through a divorce at the time and I wasn’t in a good mood; and part of it was that we wanted to do something a little bit more edgy.” 

Indiana Jones
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

The edgy nature of the Harrison Ford starring Temple of Doom contributed to writer Lawrence Kasdan’s decision not to return to the $2 billion worth Indiana Jones franchise. Expressing his distaste, Kasdan described the film as horrible, lacking any pleasant aspects.

 “I just thought it was horrible. It’s so mean. There’s nothing pleasant about it. I think Temple of Doom represents a chaotic period in both their [Lucas and Spielberg] lives, and the movie is very ugly and mean-spirited.”

He believed it reflected a chaotic period in the lives of both Lucas and director Steven Spielberg, who unlike Lucas was adjusting to his recent success.


READ MORE: “I just thought it was horrible”: Indiana Jones Original Writer Left Franchise After Steven Spielberg’s Overly Racist Plotline Forced India to Ban $333M Movie

How Steven Spielberg tried his best to turn the theme around

Steven Spielberg himself, having recently experienced immense success with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, was in a positive mindset and had no inclination to helm a dark quasi-horror film. His involvement in the project was primarily focused on balancing the story’s darkness with moments of comedy, aiming to inject levity whenever possible.

Despite Spielberg’s efforts, Temple of Doom remained a challenging film to fully embrace for many fans. Alongside the horror elements, the replacement of Marion (the female lead from the first movie) with Willie Scott (portrayed by Kate Capshaw) posed another hurdle.

Harrison Ford and Ke Huy Quan in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Harrison Ford and Ke Huy Quan in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

While Willie’s constant screaming could be understandable given the circumstances, the film treated her as a punching bag, and Indiana Jones himself appeared to hold her in contempt for much of the runtime. Kasdan’s complaint about the mean-spiritedness of the movie likely extended to the relationship dynamics between Willie and Jones, in addition to the excessive gore.

READ MORE: George Lucas’ Dog Is the Inspiration Behind Harrison Ford’s $1.9 Billion Indiana Jones Franchise and Major Star Wars Character: How Did It Even Happen?

One redeeming aspect of “Temple of Doom” was the introduction of Short Round (played by Ke Huy Quan), the lively child-sidekick who injected a sense of fun into the film. Whenever Short Round appeared on screen, the movie remembered its family-friendly roots and aimed to ensure that younger audience members were enjoying themselves. However, despite these lighter moments, Temple of Doom remained the harshest entry among the original trilogy, making it understandable why Kasdan opted to step away from the project.


Source: Slash Film


Written by Devyani

Articles Published: 288

With a portfolio of over 600 articles, Devyani Sharma is a freelance writer working in the Entertainment and Sports niche. With a Master's Degree in English literature, Devyani places great importance on the power of words and their ability to connect with readers. When not busy watching sci-fi movies, action thrillers and comedies, Devyani indulges in her love for fiction novels and writing about NASCAR races.