Friends legend turned down Indiana Jones role before Harrison Ford was cast (2024)

One of the biggest film franchises could have been very different, thanks to TV detective Magnum PI.

Harrison Ford made his debut as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, in 1981, and has never looked back, leading the way in a further four films.

However, it turns out that Tom Selleck was originally set to take on the role of the iconic adventurer before turning the job down.

Opening up about his career in an extract from his memoir, You Never Know, the actor – who has since starred in Friends, Blue Bloods and Three Men and a Baby – revealed that he chose to lead the way on Magnum PI instead.

In the book, published in May, the 79-year-old explained that he read for Indiana in front of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, but didn’t feel hugely nervous at the time – he was more worried about whether the pilot for his series would work out.

‘I got there, and Steven was quick to greet me, gave me the pages for the test, told me not to worry and to take all the time I needed,’ he penned, via People Magazine. ‘There was wardrobe waiting for me. The hat and leather jacket helped me understand the period.’

Unsurprisingly, Tom impressed the pair and nailed the audition, with the Hollywood legends handing him the role soon after.

‘I think it was Steven who told me. George had always been kinda quiet. Always thinking, taking things in. But I think I detected at least the hint of a smile on his face,’ he continued. ‘Look, I don’t have a clue how I responded. I hope at least I said thank you [sic].’

Tom was given the entire script and connected to Indy’s character immediately, branding the entire thing ‘fantastic’ – but shared that he was still waiting for an update on Magnum PI.

‘All of this was going to be, how do I put it, complicated. Extremely complicated,’ he added. ‘But hey, I had George Lucas and Steven Spielberg on my side. And, of course, I had my trusted A-team in place, Skip and Bettye.’

While he was considering the role, Magnum PI was officially picked up, and he was due to begin shooting the CBS series immediately, meaning Harrison Ford was drafted in for Indy.

And the rest, of course, is history.

Tom starred as Thomas Magnum for eight seasons before the series ended in May, 1988.

Following this, he also delighted audiences as Monica Geller’s former partner, Richard Burke, in 10 episodes of Friends, portrayed Frank Reagan in Blue Bloods for over a decade, and had a recurring role as AJ Cooper in Las Vegas.

Harrison made his debut as the titular character in 1981, and returned to the fold for the following four sequels – including 2023’s Dial of Destiny adventure.

Appearing at the Taormina Film Festival last year, he thanked Tom for taking on Magnum PI, meaning that he could have the adventure of a lifetime.

‘How I got the job? Tom Selleck had the job, but he also incurred an obligation to do a television series and he was unable to get out of that contract,’ he said during a panel discussion.

‘I became the second choice, and I’m very grateful for Tom. Thank you, Tom, man. If you’re listening, thank you again.’

Harrison explained that George called him personally, flagging that he had a script to send over.

‘He said, “I want you to read it right away, I want you to read it in an hour,”’ he recalled. ‘I sat down, I read it an hour, and he said, “I want you to go over to Steven Spielberg’s house and talk to him.”

‘I went to Steven Spielberg’s house, I had never met Steven Spielberg before. I guess, about an hour later, I had the job.’

His latest outing, the Dial Of Destiny, was released last year, and will serve as the final Indiana Jones film.

He confirmed that the franchise is officially over, telling Total Film at the time: ‘This is the final film in the series, and this is the last time I’ll play the character.

‘I anticipate that it will be the last time that he appears in a film.’

This article was first published on April 17, 2024.

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Friends legend turned down Indiana Jones role before Harrison Ford was cast (1)

Friends legend turned down Indiana Jones role before Harrison Ford was cast (2024)


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