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The Making of

Chapter 2: Scouting for Locations and New Faces


Robert Watts, who was associate producer on Raiders, would be producing the film while Frank Marshal would share executive producer credits with George Lucas. Watts would be basically responsible for organizing the whole of the movie's shooting, plus jointly with Marshall, seeing it through post-production.

Ever since the film's body structure had been finalized location scouting got underway while Paramount agreed to give a $28 million budget, sure that this time they were betting on a winner. Negotiations had been opened with the Chinese government to film scenes like a motorcycle chase along the Great Wall and the discovery of dinosaurs in a lost valley. However, the Chinese refused permission to film on the Wall, and inflated the prices for everything else needed to make the film.

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Producer Robert Watts.

Watts brought onboard Elliot Scott as production designer and together they went to India and spent several weeks scouting the country for locations. There they found every location called for in India with the exception of a gorge they needed for the film's climax. Watts and Scott thought about looking in the Himalayas in the north of India, but the area was likely to be covered in snow during their preparation period. And that wasn't the only problem. Although they had found most of the desired locations they were so far away the one from the other that made filming logistical wise forbidding. Sri Lanka with its exquisite jungle foliage and picturesque terrain was ideal for Indiana's new adventure. When they scouted in Sri Lanka, they find the gorge in a place where their other location needs would be accessible from their base of operations, which was Kandy, the second principal city after Colombo, the capital. "We found the gorge by helicopter, and we were extremely fortunate that there was a dam under construction right behind it," said Watts. "A British company, Balfour Beatty Nuttall, was constructing a major dam for the Sri Lanka government, a gift from the British government. They didn't do it for nothing but it was certainly much cheaper than if we would have to import engineers and equipment. And there were access roads and all the things that go with having a building site on hand. They strung the bridge across the gorge, so we were confident that it was structurally sound and they gave us the number of people we could put on it, which was twenty, and we kept it below that figure, so it was perfectly safe."

Still, for interior shots Watts hoped to film many scenes in the Rose Palace of Jaipur in the Indian state of Rajasthan, but the local government, scandalized by the script's horror-comic character, demanded so many changes that he and Lucas decided Elstree's soundstages would be just fine.

Douglas Slocombe, one of the many who worked on Raiders and returned for Indy's new adventure said about his relationship with Spielberg, "The wonderful thing about working with Steven is that he plans everything very, very carefully in advance. He starts off by doing rough sketches, little drawings of the visuals, which are eventually finalized by professional artists. Of course, he adapts certain shots on the day, but the important thing is that everyone has had a pretty good idea weeks and months in advance of what he intends to portray. This helps one enormously in planning what equipment will be needed and what conditions one is likely to encounter."

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Elliot talking to Steven.

Elliot Scott had never before worked with Spielberg and that proved a revelation to him, "I've never worked with a director like Steven Spielberg before. He plans and plans and plans. He's not a hard man at all, in fact he's rather pleasant, but his sheer enthusiasm just carries you forward. He uses sketches to map out virtually the entire film, forcing himself to consider all the options at the drawing board stage. These are very rough sketches visually, but there's a lot of depth in them, a lot of information. He would have sketch artists adapt his roughs and send them over to me saying: 'This is the way I want the action to go.' Then I would try to adapt the sequence to fit the set. Prior to that I would have shown him a model of the set so he knows in general where things are, but using these action sketches he would find that he needed, say, another camera or another doorway or another this or that. He would ask us to adapt the plans of the set, make something longer, shorter… all at the drawing board stage, which saves considerable amounts of money in the long run and allows everyone involved to know where they are going."

Anthony Powell was assigned with costume design duties. He's previous work included, among other films, Dragonslayer and Evil Under the Sun. Powell, who had spent 25 years visiting museums and building his own research library, found himself in a great deal of research. While researching pre-war China for the scenes in Macao, Elliot Scott, the Production Designer, showed Powell a Carrier Bresson book of photographs from 1937. In that book Powell spotted a photograph of a little Chinese boy wearing baseball shoes and immediately thought of Short Round. Steven loved it and said: "Let's give him an American baseball cap, which he's gotten from one of the tourists." In the Bresson book Powell also found photographs of Chinese and European refugees at the airport. The real life refugees were dressed in ways one could never invent. Priests wearing pith helmets and carrying tennis rackets. Chinese people wearing absolutely conventional European suits but with the most bizarre Chinese hats on their heads. Again, Powell showed them to Steven and they ended up putting a huge crowd of missionaries into the airport scene. Of course Powell could not avoid getting involved with Indy's wardrobe and its problems. "We couldn't use the original costumes because they had been virtually destroyed. To the public, Indy wears an old shirt and an old pair of pants, but they don't realize how much is involved and how expensive it all is. For a start, you need six of everything because what clothes have to go though on an action picture is phenomenal. Every time Harrison falls down a ravine or jumps in a river, he will need a change of costume. There are also stunt men and doubles that have the same requirements. On this movie alone, we needed about thirty shirts for Harrison, and it doesn't show on the screen at all. Continuity is another problem. Films aren't shot from the beginning to the end. Quite often, shooting starts at the end of the script and works backwards. This poses special problems on clothing. By the end of the movie, Harrison's costume has to look like he's crawled through jungles, fallen down mines and fought his way to hell and back. Now to make clothes look like as if they're in that condition and as if someone has been wearing them for ten years involves, say Grand ball gown. The cost of aging clothes artificially can be much more than the cost of making them in the first place. There are a million tricks of the trade involved: staining, bleaching, washing, dyeing, sandpapering. It's very hard work! There is. Even for a movie, which isn't based in reality, like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, it's always worthwhile doing careful research beforehand. Truth really can be stranger than fiction."

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Original costume drawings by Anthony Powell.
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More Temple of Doom costume drawings by Powel.

"I like to make my original costume drawing not too specific." Anthony Powel said. "As long as the drawing gives the director and actor idea of what they're going to get, that's sufficient. The real work comes in the fitting room. It seems to me that unlike theater, where an actor can transform himself and be totally convincing, cinema is a different medium. The camera sees through artifice. The most interesting and successful screen actors have been those who have traded on their own personalities, presenting different aspects of themselves in various movies. What I feel I have to do is take what is actually there in an actor, not just physically but in the quality of personality, and take the character in the script as it's written and bring these two together halfway. One may have worked something out very carefully on paper, but the important moment is in the fitting room. Clothes have to look absolutely right for that person. You have to strive for something that looks inevitable, that looks as if it has been airbrushed on the person. All of that happens in the fitting room, not in preliminary drawings."

Mola Ram's headdress.

Tom Smith, the film's make-up artist, was also responsible for creating costumes and props out of Powell's designs. "The headdress for Mola Ram, the Thuggee high Priest, was an interesting challenge. I was shown drawings of it by the costume designer. They were scouring all over the place trying to locate real horns, which weight a ton, and the whole design was becoming difficult to manage. Especially as the actor would arrive at 7 am and had to be ready on the set by 8.30 every day. I set about simplifying the whole thing and did four clay mock-ups of the shrunken head that's fastened to it. The headdress was like the skull of an animal, based on a steer's head, and I used bony formation, rather than horns, which also as an anchor for the hair of the shrunken head. We actually plugged the hair in with a needle, directly into the latex, to create the effect of correct density in such a small area."

With the script in revision state and the film in heavy pre-production mode auditions for the actors who would portray the new characters in the Indiana Jones saga begun.

More than 1000 actresses, including East Coast soap opera stars and one Noxzema girl auditioned for the role of Willie Scott. Among the totally unknown actresses auditioning for the role was one named Sharon Stone. Although she was among the top three choices she didn't take the part; instead, she went on to co-star in the remake of King Solomon's Mines, opposite Richard Chamberlain, in a role similar to the one she lost. Finally, Spielberg chose a green-eyed Texan girl called Kate Capshaw after viewing her videotaped test.

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Kate wearing a fedora.

Born Kathy Sue Nail, she had graduated from the University of Missouri with a master's degree in learning disabilities, and taught school for two years before she realized she wasn't happy with what she was doing. Following the birth of her daughter Jessica, she decided to pursue a career in show business. Starting as a model for the Ford agency in New York, she appeared in many TV commercials, then moved to soap operas like Edge of Night, and in 1982 made her first feature film called A Little Sex, playing opposite Tim Mathison. Capshaw's then-agent happened to be a jogger and one of his jogging partners was the casting director of Indy II. It was then when she decided to audition for the part. She wasn't unfamiliar with the character of Indiana Jones. "I was living in Hollywood, and one night, my boyfriend and his friend wanted to take my girlfriend and me to see Raiders of the Lost Ark. I told them that they should go and we would do something together while they were in the theater, but he was very persistent. I went, very petulant and sulky, and stayed that way for about two minutes after the movie started," she relates laughing. "When I came out, if there had been anyone doing interviews, I would have been a great advertisement for going to see that movie!" Nothing could predict that some years later she would become part of the cinematic legend. Learning that she had won the role came to a surprise to her. "Steven called me and told me I got the part. Maybe I was expecting fireworks and bombs but I just laughed. I thought he was kidding!"

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Kate as Willie Scott.

Capshaw loved the character of Willie Scott from the start and she was looking forward to bring it to life. "Willie has led this pampered life and feels that's what's due her - to be cared for and looked after. She meets Indiana Jones, a person unlike anyone she has ever been involved with, and ends up going off with him. In the course of all their adventures, all of her earlier life is stripped away from her, and Willie must fall back on her own resources. She discovers that she is a very strong woman, a gutsy lady. Willie is a much different character than the woman Karen Allen played in Raiders." To convey the 1930s leading lady image Capshaw had her hair bleached under Spielberg's advice.

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Quan as Short Round.

Finding a child actor to play Indy's 10-year-old sidekick proved much harder than finding the female partner for the daring archaeologist. Spielberg asked casting director Mike Fenton to arrange open calls in several major cities, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Toronto, Chicago, Montreal, Hong Kong and London. Open call means that anybody, professional or complete amateur, can walk in off the street and be interviewed on videotape. In total they held something like eight open calls and looked at almost six thousand young boys. On a Saturday morning of February 1983 while Spielberg was visiting LA's Chinatown schools he discovered a little Vietnamese boy called Ke Huy Quan. Quan was born in Saigon and his father ran a plastics business. In 1976 Quan, with his parents, six sisters and two brothers fled Vietnam as one of the "boat people", as the press called them. The Quan family seeked refuge in Hong Kong and stayed there until they were accepted by the U.S. Government for resettlement, in 1980. Due to his lack of film background Quan treated the whole process of auditioning like a game. Even when he was asked to screen test opposite Harrison Ford. "He wasn't intimidated by the fact that Lucas, Spielberg and Ford were in the same room with him", relates Watts. And that was true, since he had never seen Raiders he was unfamiliar with the character of Indiana Jones and the men who created him. "I had heard of Han Solo before but I didn't know his real name was Harrison Ford," replied innocently the young actor.

Ke Huy Quan and Steven Spielberg between takes.

Quan although spoke English very well, he couldn't read. So Spielberg decided to go with improvisation. He explained to Quan a scene he had just made up: he would play cards with Ford and he would realize that he had been cheated. "When he pulls a fifth ace and he takes your money and he's a cheater, you don't let him go away with that. You have to win that card game," was Spielberg's only directions. Ford and Quan played the scene and it was so good they decided to keep it in the film. Once he was chosen, the youngster had to watch Raiders to know what the first one looked like, so Spielberg arranged a private screening for him.

Watts had assumed that they would get a Chinese kid who, because he lived in the States, would sound like an American - or had they found one in London, like a cockney or something and so he had reckoned and budgeted for a dialogue coach since he expected that the boy would have to be coached to achieve a Chinese accent. "We roamed the globe looking for this kid and what happens? He turns up in our own back yard," he said laughing.

At the time of the casting for the supporting actors Spielberg had moved to the St. James Club, a private hotel south of Piccadilly, which became his base of operation. Spielberg took there miniatures of the major sets, the crusher room, the temple and the mine cave built by Scott along with four thousand storyboards, drawn by Ed Verraux, Joe Johnston and Elliot Scott, and he spent five months studying them in order to find the angles he wanted to photograph.

Mr. Puri as Mola Ram.

For the role of Mola Ram, the arch-villain, they searched through England and the United States to find someone to play the part-both Lucas and Spielberg were most anxious that they did not cast the principal Indian roles with Western actors darkened down. They wanted real Indians. They couldn't find anybody amongst the resident Indian actors in the United States, and so they got a permit for Amrish Puri, one of India's top actors, to go and do the film. Puri was working on 18 films in India simultaneously at the time of his casting. "This was something I had never before come up against," commented Watts. "The Indian film industry operates in a manner that would drive me stark raving mad. The actors work sometimes two or even three shifts a day, four-hour shift. And they may work on two or three different films; they'll be in one in the morning and another in the afternoon. In the end, we had four different visits from Amrish (one in Sri Lanka, three in London). He had to juggle around all his Indian commitments to do this movie. It wasn't easy."

Veteran Indian actor Rosan Seth was given the role of oily prime minister of the Pankot Palace, while David Yip, known in Britain by the TV series The Chinese Detective, would play Wu Han, an ill-fated ally of Indy in the opening night club scene.

Ford was pushing 41 and since Indy II was a prequel to Raiders his character was younger, so Spielberg advised him to get in shape and spent eight months in training and muscle building under the supervision of Jake "Body by Jake" Steinfield right after completing his work on Return of the Jedi. "I don't know why they did that to me. I got three years older and the character got one year younger. So I'm four years older than the character. And I can feel the difference," Ford stated in wonder. Steinfield specialized in training entertainment personnel and worked with Harrison Ford before and during the movie, keeping him in shape. He was also working out Steven every day. Jake used to double for the Incredible Hulk. When they traveled to Kandy they found there an old YMCA, so he and Ford would go down there to work out two or three times a week. It was the most primitive weight room anyone ever saw, with very old weight and ancient benches.

Filming was to begin in April 1983, because Spielberg wanted to attend the Academy Awards ceremony since E.T.. was nominated for 10 Academy Awards.

Next: On location in Sri Lanka >>


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