Harrison Ford Had Horrible Diarrhea So He Improvised a ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ Scene to End Filming ASAP

The Indiana Jones movies had a quick and tangible effect on pop culture — inspiring spin-offs, comic books, and videogames. Under the guidance of Steven Spielberg, the franchise always had a high likelihood of success. Its popularity was bolstered by the starring talents of Harrison Ford and its strong on-screen debut in the form of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Still, despite this dream team, not everything went according to plan. Ford revealed that one of the film’s most iconic moments was not in the original script. 

‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ marked the beginning of Indiana Jones’ adventures

Though Raiders of the Lost Ark didn’t hit the big screens until 1981, the earliest draft of the film was started by George Lucas in 1973. At the time, the leading man’s name was Indiana Smith.

Despite this title having a lot less of a ring to it, award-winning director Steven Spielberg was still sold on Lucas’s pitch. All that was left to do was gather a star-studded cast that would sell movie-goers on a quest for the Ark of the Covenant. 

Ford had previously been acquainted with Lucas on the set of Star Wars. Although for many people Ford would always be Han Solo, his acceptance of the Indiana Jones role meant that a new generation would come to know his famous face. The debut of his performance raked in $248.2 million, equivalent to about $797.8 million today, according to CBS News

The public’s adoration of Indiana Jones and his adventures led to many more movies. Less than three years after Raiders of the Lost Ark‘s debut, a prequel was released in the form of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. In the subsequent years, two sequels were made, with a third planned for 2022. Each premiere has been full of action and quotable moments… but Ford revealed to fans that not all of these scenes were scripted. 

Some of Ford’s scenes were directed by dysentery

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones facing a cobra snake in the Well of the Souls chamber. Initial theatrical release June 12, 1981.
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones facing a cobra snake in the Well of the Souls chamber. Initial theatrical release June 12, 1981. Screen capture. | CBS via Getty Images

When Ford appeared on Reddit to participate in an “Ask Me Anything” session, users were ready to get all of their burning questions answered. What they probably weren’t expecting was the detailed insight into the bowel health of Ford during Lost Ark‘s filming.

One fan referenced an iconic fight scene, in which Ford faces off with a swordsman and simply shoots him, as opposed to engaging in a more exhilarating battle. This humorous plot point was revealed by Ford to have been the result of pure necessity. 

An Australian news source quotes him as saying: “It was meant to be the ultimate duel between sword and whip. And I was suffering from dysentery, really, found it inconvenient to be out of my trailer for more than 10 minutes at a time.”

Ford and Spielberg realized that the complex fight scene would take days to shoot — a timeframe that the ailing star was not feeling up to. When he suggested that Jones simply shoot his adversary, Spielberg readily agreed. 

Ford is no stranger to improvisation 


We Completely Missed This ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ Easter Egg in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

The Indiana Jones team may have expected some improvisation shenanigans from the films’ lead.

According to Slate, writer Lucas had witnessed a similar stunt on the set of Star Wars’ The Empire Strikes Back. When Princess Leia confessed her love to Ford’s Han Solo for the very first time, the actor replied, “I know” — a far cry from the scripted, “I love you, too.” 

Between his heroic character portrayals and affinity for ad-lib, it’s clear Ford can keep both audience members and castmates on their toes. With the recent confirmation that Ford will be appearing in the thus far untitled fifth film, we can look forward to even more surprises from Indiana Jones.