Spielberg, Lucas and Ford blockbuster to film along the island's Hamakua Coast
by John Burnett
Tribune-Herald Staff Writer
While secrecy has surrounded the project, the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones adventure series will film here for three weeks in August.
Location shooting will take place along the Hamakua Coast and Lucasfilm has opened a production office in Hilo. There is no word yet on any casting call or other local production hires.
Filming on the project, to be released May 22, 2008, started Monday in Deming, N.M., where part of the town has been decked out to resemble Morocco during World War II.
Security surrounding the yet-to-be-titled film, which has been dubbed "Project X" by those close to the production, has been even tighter than around past film projects on the island.
Deb Wuliger, a publicist for the project, said Wednesday from New Mexico that she cannot release details about the story, or much about the production itself.
"Everybody's excited about the project and we're really excited about going to shoot on location, and we also want to be able to preserve a bit of surprise when people plop down their -- I don't know what ticket prices are in Hawaii, but in L.A. it's $12 -- come next May. So we're really trying to keep everything to a minimum," she said.
"The attempt is to preserve the integrity of the story and to preserve the experience with the audience. It really is. We're going through a period of time where information travels so fast and people put things together so quickly that before a movie can be released, people are reading about it. ... The thing about the Internet is that when there are spoilers, at least they announce it, so people can choose how to look. But the (mainstream media), that's not how they do news. ... The problem is that there's no longer any such thing as a 'local story.' People piece them all together and it's a different world and we're trying to learn how to deal with that."
Steven Spielberg is directing, while George Lucas is a co-executive producer and a co-writer. Harrison Ford is back to play the whip-cracking, wisecracking, globetrotting, swashbuckling archaeologist Indiana Jones. Others who have signed on include Cate Blanchett, John Hurt, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent and Shia LaBeouf. It is also rumored, but not yet substantiated, that Karen Allen will return to reprise her role as Marion Ravenwood from the first film in the series, 1981's "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
LaBeouf, 21, has a different perspective on the Indiana Jones series -- which has grossed $1.2 billion worldwise -- than his co-stars, as Indy was already an icon when the young actor was born. In a video clip on the Web site indianajones.com, LaBeouf recalled his first exposure to the Indiana Jones legend.
"I think I was 8 years old, with my dad ... and I think by this time they already came out on VHS, and we had the first two, but we didn't have the third. I remember watching 'Raiders ...' and '(Indiana Jones and the) Temple of Doom' and them being my favorite films, you know," he said. "At that age, 8 years old, I had 'The Transformers' and 'Yogi Bear' and the Indy films and John Wayne. And the Indy and John Wayne came from my pops -- that was part of his collection. ... The only thing he had besides Westerns and (Sergio) Leone (films) was Indiana Joneses.
"My dad's a man's man, you know. Cajun, Louisiana -- he's that guy. And he's so into this. My dad's never been into any of this for me, you know. He's not a Hollywood cat at all. But you tell him you're doing this and it's just crazy."
LaBeouf already has over 55 film and television credits, but he is not beyond being star struck.
"Today is the first time I met Harrison," he said. "He's a guy's guy, you know, and he's got a strong handshake -- and he lets you know exactly where he stands in this whole thing, just in the handshake. He doesn't have to say much. A big moment for me was watching him walk out of the trailer with the fedora on and -- oh my God. Oh my God, man! The dude is really overwhelming."
One Indy veteran who will not return is Sean Connery. The 76-year-old Scottish actor wrote on the indianajones.com Web site, "In the end, retirement is just too damned much fun."
Fans were hoping that Connery would emerge from retirement to portray Jones' father, Prof. Henry Jones. While that didn't happen, Connery did have some "fatherly advice" for Ford.
"Demand that the critters be digital, the cliffs be low, and for goodness sake keep that whip by your side at all times in case you need to escape from the stunt coordinator!"