Why Bradley Cooper shouldn’t be Indiana Jones
There’s a current rumour skittering across the floor of the Internet like a mutated roach that Bradley Cooper could be a potential replacement for Harrison Ford in a fifth Indiana Jones film if Ford, Spielberg and Lucas don’t get something completed quick and go into production with it.
It should first be explained that the rumour was debunked by Indiana Jones producer Frank Marshall before I had a chance to even speak about it. It’s also possible it was just a way for Paramount or Disney or whoever to test the reaction of folks with the idea of Indiana Jones being rebooted. It will probably be a forgotten story even once I finish writing it and nobody will care and trivia tossers like myself will mention this in random conversation to seem informed whenever a discussion comes up on Bradley Cooper. I’m actually preparing it in my head right now to mention it once the next David O. Russell film trailer comes out and Bradley Cooper plays another character that makes no sense.
But playing O. Russell characters isn’t really Cooper’s fault (I mean, he did take the part but he didn’t write it) and isn’t a judgment on Cooper’s acting ability. Bradley Cooper is a decent actor, the exception to Louis CK’s off hand joke about actors asking Sean Penn questions during Inside the Actor’s Studio. He’s a good looking white guy with good hair and a decent build. He has just enough cockiness to carry him to likeability and can show enough range to captivate a viewer. At 39 years old he’s actually the exact same age as Harrison Ford was for Raiders of the Lost Ark.
For most cinemaphiles, the concept of someone else playing Indiana Jones while Harrison Ford is still alive (or even if he wasn’t alive) is blasphemy. It shouldn’t even be considered to many. I love the Indiana Jones series and I actually have to disagree. I guess it’s because I know where Indiana Jones comes from. He’s dressed like Harry Steele in Secret of the Incas, plays it like Dobbs in Treasure of the Sierra Madre and adventures the world like James Bond. He may be an original character but once upon a time, there were dozens of black and white features you could watch about treasure hunters full of testosterone. He was James Bond for the 1980s while James Bond was getting old. Because of this, even if Jones himself is now incredibly iconic, I would not be against a reboot.
There’s also this misconception that there’s only one Indiana Jones. While a bit forgettable, Sean Patrick Flanery played Indiana Jones in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, while Corey Carrier played him as a child. More memorable was the late River Phoenix as young Indy at the beginning of The Last Crusade, who was less playing Jones and more playing Harrison Ford. The image we all think of to be fair is Harrison Ford. That’s his personality and charm in the role so I understand it. But he’s 71. He barely succeeded in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in the role (though I don’t hate that movie as much as others do and I felt Ford did a great job with his limited movement. It felt like watching Ric Flair at WrestleMania) and now several years since, he’s only going to age more. I think there’s still stories to tell about Indiana Jones, and I don’t need Harrison Ford to do it.
But back to Bradley Cooper. As I stated, Cooper has the physical appearance and some of the personality features one might want in casting a new Indiana Jones, but that’s the problem. Hollywood is full of guys like Cooper. Cocky but charming while tall and white? That’s Bradley Cooper, Armie Hammer, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Ryan Gosling, Ryan Renyolds, Channing Tatum, Ben Affleck, Ashton Kutcher, Chris Hemsworth. I could keep going (and it’s interesting how many I named are already cast in superhero films) but I’ll stop there. Pretty much all of those guys could be up for a role like Indy and all of them would have just enough qualities to resemble what we think about when it comes to Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. But none of them are Ford at his peak in blue collar charm, intellectual integrity, and physical appeal. They all have elements and are varying degrees of thespian or action hero, but they are not Harrison Ford.
But does that mean you don’t make the movie? No. It means you stop looking for Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones if you’re not going to cast Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. You find someone who can play Indiana Jones in a new way. Give the character new life. As I said earlier, Jones comes from the inspiration of many characters before him. You need to bring in an actor that isn’t going to just be a weaker Harrison Ford. It’s a cliché comparison, but the reason Heath Ledger was a great Joker was because he didn’t try to be Jack Nicholson. He also didn’t try to be Caesar Romero. He went with something fresh to the character and it gave him far more creative freedom. Too often we pigeonhole heroes to just be what we envision (a big reason why Brandon Routh, another tall and white cocky charmer, failed in Superman Returns) in the past instead of giving them an opportunity to provide something new. I have nothing against Bradley Cooper, and that’s why I wouldn’t want him to try and be Indiana Jones. He’d be better off playing Drake in an Uncharted movie, since that would basically be Indiana Jones anyway. Which is funny to mention since David O. Russell at one point was going to direct it.
I’m not against Indiana Jones 5 without Harrison Ford. Heck, I wasn’t against a spin-off movie series about Mutt Jones either (history thankfully made sure that would never happen and I wouldn’t be proven wrong on that idea). But I am against a fresh faced Indiana Jones that’s just a poor man’s Harrison Ford, and that’s unfortunately for Bradley Cooper all he would be.
If this rumour was true.
Photo by Doug Curran, 20th Century Fox.