Maybe you first saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in a movie theater back in the summer of 1981. Maybe you only caught up with it last week on DVD. But whatever your my-first-time story might be, you’re likely fond of the character of Marion Ravenwood, the feisty, right-out-of-a-Howard-Hawks-movie heroine played by Karen Allen. She and Harrison Ford defined on-screen chemistry (their ship-board kiss scene, their bantering arguments). Now, 27 summers later, Allen is back playing the same role in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. And like that guest at the reunion party who looks nearly unchanged, Allen still radiates the same qualities onscreen: She’s outspoken, independent, and utterly charming. We caught up with the actress for a chat about getting back in adventure-movie mode.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So how far back did you find out, Okay, there’s finally going to be a new Indy movie?
KAREN ALLEN: There’d been this rumor mill for many years. I’d say it goes back eight years or so, about the fact that they were trying to write a script for a fourth film. And from time to time, I’d get e-mails and phone calls. Not from Steven [Spielberg] or George [Lucas] or anybody really connected with the project, but from various friends and acquaintances — little reports of all these different writers that were working on it. And then nothing would happen. Honestly, I think for the last couple of years, it hadn’t even crossed my mind.
So when did Crystal Skull finally become a ”go” for you?
The phone just rang in January of 2007. A friend of mine actually picked up the phone and said, ”Karen — it’s Steven Spielberg’s office on the phone for you.” And I thought, Oh, it’s a friend of mine being silly. Somebody playing a joke. So I went to the phone and Steven said, ”Hi! I’ll bet you know why I’m calling.” And I said, ”No, I don’t.” And he said, ”Haven’t you been watching television?” And I said, ”No, guess I haven’t.” He said, ”It’s been announced! We’re gonna make Indiana Jones 4! And guess what? You’re in it.”
How did you react?
I was actually kind of jumping up and down in place. And then a couple weeks later, he invited me to come into New York and read the script, which I was delighted to do. I really didn’t know what kind of role they’d written for me. I didn’t know if it was a little cameo. But it turned out it was really just a lovely role they had written — a nice, big, wonderful part. And then when I began to hear who else he was interested in casting in the film, in the other roles, it just got more and more and more exciting.
What were the circumstances of the first reading?
I arrived at Steven’s apartment in New York and his assistant was there, and gave me the script, and told me that Steven would be there in a couple of hours kind of around the time I was gonna finish it. In fact, he came in sort of when I was in the middle of it. He came over and said hi and said, ”Nonono — don’t stop reading! Keep going!” So I sat there till I finished reading and then found him in the apartment and said, ”Wow — this is fantastic.” I was pretty blown away by it, I have to say.
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