Of all the local premieres of “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” none has had quite so dramatic and apt a setting as the ancient open air Greek Theater in Taormina, Italy, where the fifth installment of the franchise screened at the 69th Taormina Film Festival Sunday night.
Fireworks lit up the night sky to the sound of John Williams’ “Indy’s March,” and the film’s title was projected on crumbling walls that date back to the third century BCE. With the active volcano Etna looming in the distance, the packed-out audience were treated to an all-star presentation, welcoming Harrison Ford to the stage with a rapturous reception.
It made up for the delay of several hours and the canceled red carpet event (apparently there were security issues with the crowds) as the star apologized for the tardiness. When asked if he’d ever like to try his hand at directing, the grizzled actor offered to direct the ceremony so he could speed it along. It was the kind of grumpy dry quip that has made him one of the most beloved stars of his generation.
Ford was joined on stage by co-stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”) and Mads Mikkelsen (“Casino Royale,” “Fantastic Beasts”).
Speaking earlier with Variety, Waller-Bridge talked of being initially overwhelmed by finding herself starring in one of the biggest summer releases. “I think it might take a little while to process. I was always a big fan and all of a sudden you’re meeting Harrison and Mads, and I’m like, ‘Oh shit,’ but honestly, within 15 seconds, it just felt like we were a gang. I enjoyed working with them and [director] Jim [Mangold] so much.”
Talking to Variety, Mikkelsen affirmed he had been a boyhood fan of the series. “I was 15 and with my brother, we had a VHS player and we rented five films,” he said. “’Indiana Jones’ was the first one we watched. And then we skipped the other ones. We watched ‘Indiana Jones’ five times. So it had just the biggest impact on my generation as a film.”
On stage, he admitted to wishing to be Indiana Jones when he grew up, but was happy to settle on playing the Nazi villain: “I would have played the cat in this film.”
Earlier, Variety asked if he got tired of dying in most of his English-language films. “It’s always fun to die in a film,” Mikkelsen said. “It means that you’re important in some way, right? And I’ve not died in Danish, German and French. So if they offer me something in English I’m game, but I’m not like starving for it. I do a lot of interesting stuff back home.”
So if you could only have one, what would you choose: the hat, the jacket or the gun? Ford chose the hat. The two co-stars began to bicker, with Mikkelsen choosing the hat as well and Waller-Bridge deciding on the whip. “Mads said hat because he’s already got a whip,” Waller-Bridge jokes. “With the whip, I can get things from further away. Your hat can’t do anything. You’re constantly losing your hat and having to get it. I could get your hat with my whip.”
It’s easy to see the camaraderie between Mikkelsen and Waller-Bridge, which she said was part of the collaboration from the get-go. “I’m going to miss it,” she said. As the final triumphant march played into the Sicilian night air and the credits rolled on the last installment of Indiana Jones, there were many sitting in the ancient amphitheater who will feel the same at saying farewell to a favorite hero.