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As one of the most enduring silver screen action heroes of all time, Indiana Jones lives and dies by the overwhelming charisma of his real life counterpart. Harrison Ford has portrayed the character for the better part of the last four decades, and while Indy has remained dormant since 2007, the actor is currently gearing up to give the character another go in 2020. The prospect of Ford playing such an action-heavy role at nearly 80 years old seems inherently absurd, but now it appears that Conan O'Brien joked about the possibility almost two decades ago, saying:
Although the part about his age probably seemed like a joke when the actor and host filmed that episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, the idea of Harrison Ford returning to the Indiana Jones franchise as an octogenarian has become considerably more feasible in recent years. Ford returned to the franchise seven years after this interview to make (the often maligned) Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at the age of 64, and he's currently getting ready for a fifth installment in the series -- which is slated to debut in 2020. We're not saying Conan O'Brien can predict the future, but what clearly started as a joke with an absurd premise has gradually become far more likely.
Whether or not Harrison Ford will continue to portray Indiana Jones beyond the upcoming fifth installment remains a complete mystery. Despite Conan O'Brien's jokes, the actor actually will be pushing 80 by the time the next film premieres, which raises legitimate questions about the longevity of the franchise if they opt never to recast. Indiana Jones producer Frank Marshall spoke out about such a possibility last year and insisted that the character (unlike James Bond) cannot be played by anyone other than the original actor. Sorry, Chris Pratt; it sounds Ford is going to hang onto this one for a little while longer.
Admittedly, Conan O'Brien made this joke in an era where blockbuster franchises were treated much differently than they are now. Nostalgia has become a dominant force at the global box office, and as more and more franchises receive reboots, it becomes apparent that bringing (literally) old characters back into the fray can turn a huge profit. Nobody likely would've expected Harrison Ford to return to the role of Han Solo during the early years of the Star Wars prequel trilogy either, but The Force Awakens clearly proved us wrong.
Check out the original clip from Late Night with Conan O'Brien below to see the comedian joke with Harrison Ford about taking Indiana Jones into his geriatric years:
Harrison Ford will return as everyone's favorite globe-trotting archaeologist when the fifth Indiana Jones film debuts on July 10, 2020. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that he will still be able to swing a bullwhip by then.