Thirty years ago, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” the much-awaited follow-up to “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” debuted. Indiana Jones was back — although the film was set earlier than the events of “Raiders” — and this time, he had a dame (Kate Capshaw) and a kid (Jonathan Ke Quan) with him. Oh, and he wasn’t fighting Nazis, just a deadly, child-enslaving cult.
If you’re not old enough to remember, this (along with “Gremlins” and “Poltergeist”) was the movie that prompted the creation of the PG-13 rating, after parents complained that a PG-rating wasn’t adequate for a movie that includes a scene where a man’s still-beating heart is ripped out of his chest.
But did you know that an Oscar-winning Hollywood legend almost had a small role in the film? Or what stars pranked Harrison Ford on the set? Didn’t think so.
Here are 30 things you might not have known about the movie.
1. Since he had extensive scenes where he was shirtless, Harrison Ford bulked up for the part with fitness guru Jake Steinfeld, who happens to be the uncle of “True Grit” star Hailee Steinfeld.
2. This was only the second film for Kate Capshaw, who went on to marry director Steven Spielberg. Her brown hair was died blonde to distinguish her from Indy’s other love, Marion Ravenwood, from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” She later said of the part that Willie was “not much more than a dumb screaming blonde.”
3. Jonathan Ke Quan (Short Round) got the part (his first) after accompanying his brother to his audition at an open casting call. He captured the attention of the casting director because he kept telling his brother what to do and how to do it. Short Round bossy? Never!
4. Sharon Stone was in the running to play Willie Scott before Kate Capshaw auditioned. Stone did star the next year in the forgettable “Raiders” wannabe “King Solomon’s Mines,” with Richard Chamberlain.
5. Harrison Ford’s stunt double, Vic Armstrong, shared in his memoir, “The True Adventures of the World’s Greatest Stuntman,” that Spielberg was terrified of the rope bridge (which was strung over a real 200-foot-deep gorge) and every day vowed to walk across it, but never did. Instead, the director drove a mile and a half to get to the other side.
6. Armstrong says that the bridge was strong enough for the entire crew to walk across. The scene where Indy cuts the bridge in half was done in one take. “I remember waiting for it to blow because it was a one-off shot, there was no second chance,” he writes in his memoir.
7. Armstrong’s wife, Wendy Leech, doubled for Capshaw, while he doubled for Ford.
8. Capshaw’s elaborately beaded dress was made out of vintage beads from the period. In a twist too crazy to make up, an elephant started eating the dress during the scene where it’s hanging from a tree while Indy and Willie sit by a camp fire. It was repaired, but the costume designer had to fill out the insurance forms with the unique claim of “dress eaten by elephant!”
9. Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote “Raiders,” didn’t want any part of the story involving child slavery and human sacrifice. As he told Lucas biographer John Baxter in 1999, “I didn’t want to be associated with ‘Temple of Doom.’ just thought it was horrible. It’s so mean. There’s nothing pleasant about it. I think ‘Temple of Doom’ represents a chaotic period in both their [Lucas and Spielberg] lives, and the movie is very ugly and mean-spirited.” Kasdan did “The Big Chill” instead.
10. Lucas was going through a bitter divorce at the time. In the “Making Of” Documentary, Lucas admitted “Temple” ended up darker than he’d intended, since he was “not in a good mood.”
11. Spielberg isn’t that keen on the film either, in retrospect. In 1989, he was quoted in “The Complete Making of Indiana Jones,” “I wasn’t happy with ‘Temple of Doom’ at all. It was too dark, too subterranean, and much too horrific. I thought it out-poltered ‘Poltergeist.’ There’s not an ounce of my own personal feeling in ‘Temple of Doom.'” He’s also called it “my least favorite” of the Indiana Jones films, saying, “The greatest thing that I got out of that was I met Kate Capshaw… to me was the reason I was fated to make ‘Temple of Doom.'”
12. For the creepy, crawly bug scene, Kate Capshaw was covered with over 2,000 insects. Spielberg originally wanted to have a giant snake wrap itself around her, but she panicked. She agreed to do the less scary (for her) bug scene instead. Producer Frank Marshall said that the bugs got everywhere: “Crew members would go home and find bugs in their hair, clothes and shoes.”
13. At the gross-out dinner scene, the “chilled monkey-brains” were made of custard and raspberry sauce.
14. You may recognize Captain Philip Blumburtt at the infamous dinner scene. He’s played by Philip Stone, who was the sinister caretaker, Delbert Grady, in “The Shining.” The far-more-famous actor David Niven was originally cast in the part, but died before filming.
15. Ford suffered a severe spinal disc herniation during film. Lucas said that Ford persevered: “He could barely stand up, yet he was there every day so shooting would not stop. He was in incomprehensible pain, but he was still trying to make it happen.” The actor finally had to be flown to the U.S. for surgery. His stunt double, Vic Armstrong, stood in for him for five weeks, with Ford filming the necessary close-ups on his return.
16. According to Armstrong, on a very hot day while filming the mine car chase sequence, Capshaw pulled a prank by rubbing ice cream all over her and Short Round’s doubles’ faces. “God, it was funny, but not for the poor grips who had to run like hell …. sweating their nuts off only to see us playing jokes.”
17. Capshaw got a black eye in the runaway mine car sequence. The next day, everybody else on the set also sported a black smudge under their eye.
18. Another famous prank: While filming the whipping scene where Ford is chained up, Barbra Streisand appeared, dressed in a leather dominatrix outfit, wielding a whip. She started to whip him for making “Hanover Street” and for all his “Jedi” money. Then who but Carrie Fisher appeared to shield Ford! Don’t believe us? Watch it here.
19. The sounds of the mine car during the chase scene? It’s actually Disneyland rollercoasters, recorded with no music. And if the sound effect of the plane’s failing engine sounds familiar, it’s because it’s from the Millennium Falcon’s struggling engine in “The Empire Strikes Back.”
20. An arcade game, which included voice clips and John Williams’s score, was released in 1985 by LucasArts and Atari.
21. Ford always preferred hanging out with the crew to the bigwigs. In fact, Ford’s then-wife Melissa Mathison later asked Armstrong where Ford had been on the last night of shooting, since he didn’t get home until 2 a.m. Ford had been drinking with him.
22. The original draft featured a chase along the Great Wall of China, but the country’s government refused to grant permission. India also took exception to the script, which is why the bulk of the film was shot in Sri Lanka instead, using some of the same locations as “The Bridge on the River Kwai.”
23. The three main characters are all named after dogs. Short Round was named after screenwriter Willard Huyck’s dog — which was named after the orphan in “The Steel Helmet” (1951) — Willie was named after Steven Spielberg’s Cocker Spaniel and, as you all know, Indiana was George Lucas’s Alaskan Malamute.
24. The python that Willie mistakes for an elephant’s trunk had to be smuggled into the country. Animal handler Michael Culling booked himself and the snake into hotel rooms under the names Mr. and Mrs. Longfellow.
25. Indy almost tangled with zombies! A scene featuring cult members drinking the Kali blood and turning into zombies was cut from the film.
26. The film’s original title was “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Death,” a name it retained in Germany, where it was called “Indiana Jones und der Tempel des Todes.”
27. The “vampire bats” were actually fruit bats.
28. Although you never see his face, listen closely for Dan Aykroyd: When Indy, Short Round, and Willie get to the airfield, he’s the officer that takes them to the plane.
29. Lucas and Spielberg both play missionaries in the airport scene at the beginning, while producer Frank Marshall appears as a tourist in the background.
30. An expensive scene involving an air chase between vintage biplanes had to be cut when the film went over budget. It reappeared in the next installment, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989).
Article photo courtesy of Everett