Harrison Ford has been digitally de-aged to play a younger version of Indiana Jones in the first half of the new movie.
While Harrison Ford didn’t seem very happy to reprise the role of Han Solo in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, he seems much more hyped about the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. It may be that he simply likes this character more, but we like to think that the 80-year-old actor is enjoying reliving his glory days of scary snakes and sizzling sex appeal. And now, Deadline reports that we’ll all relive those days thanks to the new film digitally de-aging Harrison Ford for its opening sequence.
For better or for worse, Disney has been at the forefront of this de-aging technology for many years before they turned the tech on Harrison Ford. In the Star Wars franchise, we’ve gone from getting one shot of a de-aged Carrie Fisher in Rogue One to getting a fully CGI young Mark Hamill in The Mandalorian. And on the Marvel side, Captain Marvel was filled with scene after scene that made the aging Samuel L. Jackson look just like he did back in the ‘90s.
However, to hear director James Mangold (arguably best known for directing the Hugh Jackman hit film Logan) tell it, they aren’t de-aging Harrison Ford just for the fun of it. Instead, the opening of the film (which lasts about 25 minutes) is meant to return us to 1944 and the glory days of Indy in his prime. The character is only 35 years old in this opening sequence, so we get to see him at his swashbuckling best before being introduced to the much older, much slower character he plays for the majority of the film.
And while we have no doubt there were stunt actors involved in the intense action scenes of this opening sequence, Mangold is quick to point out that we are mostly seeing the actual Harrison Ford in these scenes. Rather than try to do something awkward like putting Ford’s face on a younger actor, the director simply pretended Ford was 35 when filming and asked the actor to follow suit. He credits Ford’s immense acting chops for making this believable, but none of it would be possible without the de-aging technology that is slowly starting to dominate Hollywood.
Mangold gave an interesting glimpse into just how fast his crew was able to work with this technology. According to him, he could shoot a scene with the older Harrison Ford on Monday and have him digitally replaced with his younger self by Wednesday. Part of what made this so easy for the crew is that they have literally hundreds of hours of Ford footage comprising every possible angle, making it that much easier for the CGI to do its thing.
Call us optimistic, but we actually have our hopes up both for the next Indiana Jones movie and the triumphant exit of this iconic character. Harrison Ford has confirmed this will be the last time he plays as Indy, and while we’ve enjoyed seeing him in the Yellowstone spinoff 1923, we all know a star as big as Ford belongs on the big screen, even in a digitally de-aged form. If nothing else, the de-aging may prove that even though Indy’s saying “it’s not the years…it’s the mileage” is true, Disney has discovered the secret to turning back the odometer for its aging actors.