Have You Met Mrs. Jones- - Karen Allen Interview
Karen Allen returned this year as the only girl who meant anything to intrepid archaeologist Indiana Jones. 3D’s Darryn King spoke to her during her visit to Sydney.
With its cast of belligerent Hovitos, nefarious swordsmen and damn Nazis, it’s easy to forget that the first character to throw a punch in Raiders of the Lost Ark is in fact its leading lady. When we see the feisty Marion Ravenwood for the first time, she is downing whisky shots and ordering around Nepalese mountain men – and no sooner does Indiana Jones enter her bar that Marion clocks him one on the jaw.
The adventures of Indiana Jones were conceived as a tribute to the Saturday afternoon serials of old, but they were also Spielberg and Lucas’ response to the flourishing James Bond franchise: close scrapes with extravagant deaths, plenty of physical heroism… and new totty in every installment.
But Marion Ravenwood, brought to life by Karen Allen, had much more substance than one of 007’s preposterously named flings. “I think there was something about she and Indy that really clicked in the first film,” says Allen. “She was a good match for Indy. You wanted to see them together… and then she disappears.”
Admittedly, when it comes to the Indy girls, there’s never been much contest. Doctor Elsa Schneider in The Last Crusade was a backstabbing Aryan, and Willie Scott’s endlessly bawling presence in Temple of Doom remains, for some, the bane of the entire series (though apparently not for Spielberg, who promptly married the actress).
In any case, it was clear that the wise-cracking Marion was the match for whip-cracking Indy. In the midst of two decades of speculation about the return of Indiana Jones, many fans wondered if Marion would return with him. “I would hear rumours from time to time. A friend of mine would read an interview with Spielberg and call me. There were sometimes these little hints dropped in the press, but never anything definite. It would pop in my consciousness and then go away… and then years would go by.”
Almost 27 years went by, in fact, before Karen Allen got the call, from Spielberg himself, asking her to reprise the role of Marion Ravenwood for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. There was only the slightest trepidation on Allen’s part. “I have such a deep love and connection with this character Marion Ravenwood, so my only fear was that I’d read the script and not like where they’d taken her story,” Allen says. “And of course the minute I read it I absolutely loved what they’d done.”
Allen has admitted to being somewhat bewildered during the filming of the first Indiana Jones flick: wandering around the massive sets in Elstree Studios, she figured they were making something along the lines of Casablanca. There was no such confusion this time round. “I loved the familiarity of working with Steven and Harrison. It was just more fun for me [than Raiders], and frankly for everybody. The set of Raiders was just a little intense – everyone was trying to figure out everybody else’s way of working. The set of this film was filled with a sense of fun and lightheartedness.”
She is also full of praise for Shia LaBeouf, who played Indy and Marion’s switchblade-flicking son, Mutt. “He’s a doll. Very funny, very sweet-hearted, a great storyteller, and a really hard worker.” So what of him picking up Indy’s hat in the final scene- “That will really be up to Steven and Harrison. There certainly could come a time when Shia could put on the hat and move forward with the series, or maybe they’ll both put on the hats and move forward as a team. But it’s really anybody’s guess what they’re going to do with that. I think it’s lovely that he now has this son, and fantastic that it’s Shia who is such a wonderful young actor. If Harrison gets to a point where he wants to hang up the hat, then at least they have somebody who could put it on.”
Whoever dons the trusty fedora, Allen needs no time to reflect about whether she’d be willing to return as Mrs. Indiana Jones. “Absolutely,” she says. “Yes!”
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is available now on DVD.