It was not the first time it had been said. Many had dismissed the previous remark as a likely misstatement. But now, it has been affirmed. From Variety:
Producer Frank Marshall expressed excitement about getting under way in the making of the fifth installment in the “Indiana Jones” franchise, and said he can’t imagine ever having another actor replace Harrison Ford in the title role.
Asked by Variety senior film and media writer Brent Lang about continuing “Indiana Jones” for even more sequels, Marshall said it could happen. “It’s all about the story. I think both in the ‘Jason Bourne’ series and on ‘Indiana Jones,’ we are not going to do the Bond thing,” Marshall said, referring to rotating different actors through the title roles in the two franchises that he oversees. “We think those characters are iconic, and those are the only actors who can play that.”
Marshall’s filmography suggests that he knows what he is doing. Nevertheless, his intransigence on casting Indiana Jones seems poorly considered. Harrison Ford will be 74 years old when the fifth Indy film darkens theaters. The Indiana Jones property represents a significant value among Disney’s $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm. As much as we all wish Mr. Ford many healthy years to come, it seems foolhardy to limit the franchise to what remains of his career.
It’s not just a question of the actor’s longevity. Ford’s age places artificial limitations upon what the character of Indiana Jones can do, and the era in which he can do it. The last film, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, saw Indy in the 1950s rather than the 1930s, and thus necessarily replaced Nazis with Soviets. The difference affected the film’s tone, and contributed to it standing out — in a bad way — from the films which preceded it. How old do we want to see Indy get? Do we want to see him in the 1960s surrounded by tie-dye and lava lamps? Certainly, recasting Ford is no small task. But Disney is already doing it for their stand-alone Han Solo film. Why the reluctance to recast Indy? Hopefully, somebody at Disney can talk some sense into Marshall.