Harrison Ford has been acting for nearly 50 years. Breaking into the business was easy for the Oscar nominee, at least at first.
After landing the role of Han Solo in George Lucas’ 1977 “Star Wars” while he was still working as a carpenter, Ford found himself the star of a franchise and, in 1980, appeared in “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.”
But when Ford was up for the lead role in Steven Spielberg’s 1981 Indiana Jones flick, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” getting the part wasn’t as easy.
“Star Wars” creator George Lucas happened to cowrite “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and didn’t want Ford to appear in yet another one of his films.
“I said, ‘Oh, Steven. He’s been in two of my movies. I don’t want him to be my Bobby De Niro,'” Lucas said in a making-of featurette.
So with Lucas not wanting Ford to be in all of his projects — in a way that’s similar to how Robert De Niro has been in many of Martin Scorsese’s movies — the production set up a screen test with a fresher face: Tom Selleck.
Watch Selleck’s screen test as Indiana Jones below:
Let’s watch part of that again.
Both Lucas and Spielberg thought Selleck was perfect for the part and were ready to shoot with him as the lead. Unfortunately for Selleck, the actor had already filmed a pilot for a CBS detective show called “Magnum P.I.” and couldn’t get out of the contract.
“[Spielberg and Lucas] held the offer out for about a month,” Selleck told the Late Show With David Letterman. “The more they held out the offer and talked to the network the more the network said no … so I had to kind of move on.”
And while Lucas may have initially not wanted Ford for the role, in retrospect Lucas said, in a bonus feature for the film, that “He was perfect for the part. I can’t imagine anybody else in that part.”
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