Tonight, the L.A. Times Hero Complex hosted a 30th anniversary screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Steven Spielberg did a Q&A with host Geoff Boucher afterwards. Much to everyone's surprise, Harrison Ford himself came out a few minutes into the Q&A and they talked for about 40 minutes about a ton of film related topics (many of which I'll write up here in the next few minutes). One of the most interesting tidbits was about Ford's almost-involvement in another Spielberg classic, Jurassic Park.
During a discussion of how Ford scored the role of Indiana Jones, Spielberg mentioned that George Lucas invited him to his house to see an early cut of The Empire Strikes Back. Tom Selleck had already dropped out of Raiders due to his commitment to "Magnum, P.I.", so the duo was on the hunt for a new Indy. I'll quote Spielberg here:
After [the screening of The Empire Strikes Back] was over, I said, 'We've found our Indiana Jones.' And George said, 'Who?' I said, 'That guy right there. Han Solo.' And George said, 'yeah, he's a great actor, but he's identified as this character now in Star Wars.' And I said, 'Yeah, but he's an ACTOR!' George had never thought about that, but then he said, 'yeah, that'd be great.'
Later, talking about the Indiana Jones sequels, Ford said, "It's an absolute delight to play this character and to work with Steven again, who only hires me for Indiana Jones." Jokingly, he nudged his director and said, "I am an actor!" calling back to the conversation earlier. Spielberg looked surprised by Ford's claim, and revealed to the audience:
You know who I offered Jurassic Park to? This guy. Alan Grant, Jurassic Park, right here.
Ford sheepishly said, "yeah," and then quickly changed the subject, drawing laughs from the crowd since his quickness to move on seemed to indicate his awareness that passing on that role was probably a mistake.
I had never heard that before, although it obviously makes sense due to the working relationship between Spielberg and Ford. What do you think, though? Would Jurassic Park have been a better movie if Ford was Alan Grant instead of Sam Neill?