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Heroes And Villains
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” would be nothing without its iconic title character. But while Indy may fancy himself a solitary scholar and a lone wolf, his travels always seem to couple him with an eclectic assortment of friends, enemies and every questionable alliance in between.

"There is a certain amount of comfortable melodrama that always takes place in the storytelling,” says executive producer Kathleen Kennedy. "There's the villain – and this one definitely has a great villain. There's the banter with Indy and whoever his counterpart is – and we have a great sidekick. Indy always has a love interest, he's got buddies along the way, people who betray him, and people who are not what they appear to be, and that's what makes it fun.”

For the latest Indiana Jones adventure, the filmmakers assembled an impressive international cast – led, of course, by the inimitable Harrison Ford. Director Steven Spielberg calls Ford "the secret weapon. From the very beginning, Harrison was and is the center of Indiana Jones.”

In Dr. Jones, Ford has created a screen hero whose enduring appeal is a unique combination of no-nonsense toughness and snake-fearing humility. "Harrison's a man's man,” says co-star Shia LaBeouf, who portrays Indy's unwitting sidekick as they go in search of the legendary Crystal Skull. "So when you put him into these situations where he's vulnerable, it's hysterical. Any vulnerabilities Indy has – and there are a lot of them – are funny. Indiana Jones is very rough around the edges, but he's actually a really good person, and that's also just the way Harrison is. He's an action man, and he makes an art form out of it. No one else is Indiana Jones.”

Returning to the unforgettable role of the intrepid archaeologist, Ford knew that there would be tremendous stunt demands put on him, so he went into training to ensure he'd be up to the task and that a stunt double could be used as rarely as possible. "He wants to be Indiana Jones and doesn't want anyone else doing those stunts,” says producer Marshall. "In this movie, there's a lot of running around, chasing, jumping, whipping, rolling around in the jungle, and Harrison did it all. It's a real testament to his passion for the character, and it comes through on the screen. You see that it's him, and you know that it's real.”

Ford has been one of the silver screen's most iconic actors for more than three decades, and his biggest break (after a walk-on role as a bellhop in 1966's "Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round”) came in George Lucas's "American Graffiti” in 1973. Lucas then cast Ford as Han Solo in "Star Wars,” even though the actor originally only intended to help read lines with auditioning actors.

Likewise, Ford wasn't the original choice for Indiana Jones – but today, it would be nearly impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. That's doubly true, Lucas says, now that Indy has aged as a character. "In this movie, Harrison gets to portray a huge evolution of the character, as he moves from the 1930s to the 1950s,” he says. "Pushing the plot forward has been a bit of an adventure in more ways than one, because we're breaking the mold while keeping the films consistent. The reason it works this time is the same reason it has always worked: Harrison Ford.”

The actor's return to the role brought feelings of excitement and nostalgia to everyone on the set – especially to Spielberg. "To see Harrison walk on the set, pick up the whip, snap it and wrap it around one of the bad guys was pretty incredible,” he says. "It was amazing to see how fast Harrison was with it – and then be on the set to see Indy's rucksack and his other props ... well, it wasn't just nostalgia. That was when I realized that we were bringing this character and everything he's about back to the audience that grew u

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