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The James Bond, Indiana Jones connection: The beauty of rejection

7 mins read

Steven Spielberg had a huge desire to direct a James Bond movie. However, when the acclaimed director asked producer Albert Broccoli for his blessing, he was told no. Not once. Twice.

The first time occurred when Spielberg was riding off the success of “Jaws.” During an interview with the Independent Spielberg recalled on Michael Ball’s BBC Radio 2 that when he approached Brocolli the first time, the producer told him that he was not “right for the part.” The second time occurred after the success of Close “Encounters [of the Third Kind].” The Jurassic Park director was sure Broccoli would be sold on getting him aboard to direct a James Bond movie. Nope. Spielberg was rejected yet again.

According to the Independent article, had Spielberg been offered the director’s chair by Broccoli, he could have directed “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977)or “Moonraker” (1979).

Sean Connery as James Bond –
Courtesy of MGM

After his ill-fated attempt to enter into the Bondverse, Spielberg had a chat with his colleague and friend George Lucas, the father of the Star Wars Universe, and Lawrence Kasdan about different films, but with a similar swagger to the James Bond films. An article from Gizmodo has a transcript of that meeting. In said meeting they were creating a character like James Bond but, instead of being British and suave, this character was American and rugged. And he was not a secret agent, he was an archaeologist. That character would be Henry Walton Jones Jr., aka Indiana Jones, Indy for short, and the film they were planning would become “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

During the meeting, Speilberg was sold on Lucas’ idea of Indiana Jones. The director liked the fact that this character would be a “doctor with the bullwhip.” In addition, Spielberg would concoct the famous rolling boulder chasing Indy scene.

Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo in the Star Wars films, would be cast to play Indiana Jones in four films. He is set to reprise the role in a fifth installment.

Steven Spielberg (Left) and George Lucas

After learning about the connection, it is safe to say one can argue that if it wasn’t for Spielberg getting rejected twice from the opportunity to direct the James Bond movies, the “Indiana Jones” franchise would not be what it is today.

More importantly, had Spielberg directed the Bond movies, it can be safe to assume that another director would have ended up taking on the Indiana Jones project. Maybe James Cameron, Richard Donner, Francis Ford Coppla, or Lucas himself could have directed the Jones films?

And would Harrison Ford still be cast as Indy? A different director would have told Lucas that someone else could take on the role. Would that director cast Christopher Reeve, Mark Hamill, Kurt Russell or Christopher Walken? Both Russell and Walken were contenders for the role of Han Solo, which went to Harrison Ford.  And Hamill (familiar with Lucas) had already touched and captured the hearts of fans as Luke Skywalker just as Reeve did as Superman.

But since Spielberg took on the mantle of director of the “Indiana Jones” franchise, he has created a masterpiece. And although he never directed a James Bond movie, there were several Bond elements in the “Indiana Jones” films.

Courtesy of MGM and Lucasfilm

The Twitter account, Hidden Easter Eggs, showed pictures of Indiana Jones in “Temple of Doom” wearing a white tuxedo that is similar to the tuxedo the late Sean Connery wore as Bond. More ironically, Sean Connery would be cast as Henry Walton Jones Sr., Indiana Jones’ scholarly father who was very different from the sly James Bond. The father and son dynamic between Harrison Ford and Connery can be seen as a bridge between the universe Spielberg was rejected from to the universe he helped create.

Had Spielberg not made the Indiana Jones character what he is today (with the Bond influences), there probably would not have been a Rick O’Connell (played by Brendan Fraser), a Lara Croft (Tomb Raider), or a Nathan Drake (Uncharted).

The story of Spielberg being rejected from directing a James Bond movie is a beautiful one of how a door closes and another opens. Take Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for example. Before his match against CM Punk at WWE Royal Rumble 2013, the pro-wrestler turned movie star once commented how he was rejected from the NFL on draft day just being fresh out of college. Now, had Johnson beat himself up for not making it to the NFL, he wouldn’t have become the Rock –– the megastar that he is today. Same could be said for Spielberg.

Had he focused on the fact that he was turned down to direct a James Bond film, he would have not directed the Indiana Jones films. Plus, he probably would not meet his future wife Kate Kapshaw, who played Willie Scott in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”

If the knight from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” were to look at Spielberg’s choice to take on the Indiana Jones franchise, he would most definitely say the director chose wisely.

Brian of Earth 16

Brian of Earth-16 is a podcaster for the Earth-16 Comics Writer and a contributing writer/journalist for the Daily Planet. You can also hear Brian on the DC Comics Geeks Nation podcast. When not writing, Brian enjoys going to the world of comic books, TV shows, video games, and pro-wrestling. He also loves listening to other podcasts and having a philosophical conversation.

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