Karen Allen is best known for playing Marion Ravenwood in Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Here she discusses those films and why she feels that working on a small movie with Paul Newman is one of her career highlights
DOES IT FEEL LIKE 30 YEARS SINCE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK WAS RELEASED?
Well, no - it doesn’t. I suppose one of the reasons it doesn’t is because I went back and did the last one, The Crystal Skull. That kind of reunited the group and made it feel more recent in my life, both the reconnection with those colleagues, Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, and the whole world of those characters.
WERE YOU PLEASED ABOUT BEING ASKED BACK?
Absolutely. I was really quite delighted that they decided to bring my character back into the story and for Marion and Indy to have had a child together... I loved what they did with the story. I was quite touched by it.
HOW HAS FILMING CHANGED IN THE YEARS BETWEEN YOUR TWO INDIANA JONES MOVIES?
I think they very much wanted to try to keep it in the same vein. The way that films are shot has changed enormously since then, because there is so much CGI being done. You can do almost anything on film now, which is both extraordinary and a little upsetting to me because I don’t always find CGI very compelling. It can be quite startlingly beautiful and take you into these other realms, but I feel I disassociate from it sometimes.
IT’S NICE TO SEE THE CRAFT INSTEAD OF THE IMAGE BEING ALMOST TOO SLICK, ISN’T IT?
Yes, and you get to a point where you don’t feel the danger. You feel as if you’re seeing something that’s distanced. I know that in Raiders Of The Lost Ark, those were all real stunts. The stuntmen were putting their lives in jeopardy when they were doing them - like that extraordinary one where Indy goes down underneath the truck. Now it wouldn’t be done that way, it’d be done all with CGI, I imagine. On the one hand, it’s certainly safer, there’s a lot fewer stuntmen getting injured, but on the other hand, I think for the audience, we somehow know there’s no real jeopardy. I’ve sat in theatres and I know I should be feeling compelled by the supposed danger on screen, and I’m just not. I know I’m watching something that was put together on a computer and they’re just manipulating images and backgrounds. It’s got a different feeling for me.
COULD YOU TELL, WHEN YOU WERE MAKING RAIDERS, THAT YOU WERE ON TO SOMETHING SPECIAL?
I think there was this feeling around it from the very beginning because it was George Lucas and Steven Spielberg working together for the first time. Both of them had had early successes, so there was this buzz around the film, the secrecy around the script... But I was a young actress; I’d made maybe three or four films before that, so I didn’t really have a sense of how successful a film can be, or what that experience was going to be like - it’s hard to anticipate something you’ve never known.
WAS IT A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE?
Yes, it was quite amazing to be in that film. I had started out working only in the theatre for a number of years before I ever did a film. Afterwards I was at a point where I really wanted to go back and work in the theatre, which everyone thought was an odd thing for me to do. But after I did Raiders I think I just worked on stage for about two years, which was something I did for myself, but other people didn’t understand that.
WHICH OF THE MOVIES YOU’VE MADE ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
Oh gosh! Certainly Raiders is one to be very proud of because it had such an incredible reach out into the world. I’ve found myself walking down a street in Argentina, and somebody would come up to me and go, ‘Oh my God!’ and talk to me about it. To have been involved in something that seems to be so beloved by so many people is wonderful.
On a more personal front, I did a small, low-budget film of Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, who were both people I had grown up admiring so profoundly. And I had always been a true passionate fan of Williams’s writing, so to have the opportunity to do that, it was just an extraordinary experience. It was a very, very special time.
:: Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures is released on Blu-ray on October 8