Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull wasn’t a good movie. After allowing Indy (Harrison Ford) to actually ride off into the sunset at the end of The Last Crusade, there was no reason – beyond money and obvious fan service – to dust off the whip and fedora for an ill-conceived fourth adventure. If there’s one redeeming quality to Crystal Skull, though, it’s that director Steven Spielberg tried his best to make a shlocky 1950s B-horror movie, and he came close in some aspects… one of which ended up on then cutting room floor.
Cate Blanchett made for a hammy Russian adversary in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a broadly-drawn Commie caricature who raced Indiana Jones (Ford) and his nuclear family to find alien relics in South America. In order to discuss what happens to her character, Colonel Dr. Irina Spalko, I have to dabble in plot spoilers… so stop reading now if you want to remain unspoiled on this six-year-old movie. Spalko is melted/absorbed/ dematerialized by the aliens she desperately sought when she returns the missing Crystal Skull to its alien body and demands to know their secrets. Now, we’re learning that wasn’t supposed to be her only fate.
Concept art illustrator Miles Teves shared some art from an unused sequence in Steven Spielberg’s sequel, proving that Blanchett’s evil Russian apparently was supposed to have half of her face eaten away by the ants that take down one of her colleagues in this brutal scene:
Teves describes (via ComicBookMovie) that Cate Blanchett "loved the idea" of her character getting attacked by the ants, and apparently so did Spielberg. It wasn’t until he actually saw the finished movie that he realized it didn’t come to pass. "I watched in eager anticipation as she climbed the rope, waiting and waiting for the ants to reach her," he shares. "But alas…"
He even shares, on his official site, images of what Irina Spalko might have looked like with half of a face.
Why the change of heart? Steven Spielberg isn’t really one for the grotesque and violent. Remember, this is a filmmaker who – in a family-friendly fashion – changed the guns in E.T. to be walkie-talkies. The ant death in Crystal Skull surprised me, and perhaps Spielberg felt it would have been too much to have Blanchett’s character with a half-eaten face for the duration of the film’s conclusion. Either way, this is a fun look at what might have been. Do you like the idea? Or do you think Spielberg made the right call by scrubbing the scene?
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.