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James Mangold Talks Taking Over Indiana Jones From Steven Spielberg

The Dial of Destiny hits theaters on June 30.


In a new Variety profile, director James Mangold reveals how he became involved in the upcoming fifth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise and discusses his approach to the iconic character. The conversation delves into Mangold's thoughts on the challenges of taking over from Steven Spielberg, his decision to de-age Harrison Ford, and his aspirations for the film.

Mangold explained that during the fall of 2019, while assisting with reshoots for The Call of the Wild, Ford expressed his concerns about Indiana Jones appearing too old. Ford was uncertain about the idea of being digitally de-aged for a World War II opening sequence conceived by Steven Spielberg and screenwriter David Koepp. Mangold recalled Ford's concerns, stating, "He felt like if people saw him younger, when they confronted Indiana in his 70s, they'd be disappointed."

Impressed by Mangold's understanding of the character, Ford recommended him to Steven Spielberg, who had decided to pass on directing the film. Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy quickly agreed, stating, "Oh, he would be fantastic. Let's do that."

Mangold, who had previously directed Walk the Line and Ford v Ferrari, had reservations about the current trend of interconnected movie universes. He stated, "I am interested in making something that works from beginning to end--to curtain. Otherwise, I'm working on the world's most expensive television show."

Although Spielberg never disclosed the reason for passing on the directorial duties, Mangold respected his decision and focused on the mechanics of making an Indiana Jones film. Mangold said, "Steven told me, 'Think of shooting an Indiana Jones movie like you’re shooting a trailer--no scene can ever last too long." In the end, Mangold added, he "wasn't looking to make the movie my own… I was looking to have a voice."

The premiere of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny at the Cannes Film Festival received a mixed reaction from critics. Mangold understood the inevitability of comparisons to Spielberg but remained unbothered, stating, "I always thought if I were second or third best to one of the greatest films of all time, I'd be good. I mean, it all vaporizes later. Either the movie will live or it won't."

While Mangold acknowledges the franchise-driven nature of the industry, he remains skeptical of excessive fan service and lore. He expressed his disinterest in creating spin-offs or sequels featuring Phoebe Waller-Bridge's character, Helena Shaw, focusing instead on delivering a self-contained story.

For more, check out what critics think of The Dial of Destiny. The film whip-cracks into theaters on June 30.

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