When it comes to Harrison Ford, there are two major characters that have easily defined his entire career -- Han Solo in Star Wars and Indiana Jones. George Lucas notoriously cast the mostly unknown actor in Star Wars making him a star overnight, but he actually wasn't the first choice to play the hunky professor of archaeology in his next series of films. The role of Indiana Jones almost went to Tom Selleck.
When it came time to casting Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lucas didn't really want to put Ford in the lead role and wanted a fresh face.
"I said, 'Oh, Steven. He's been in two of my movies. I don't want him to be my Bobby De Niro,'" Lucas said in a making-of featurette, nodding to the fact that Robert De Niro appears in a ton of Martin Scorsese's movies.
So he and director Steven Spielberg brought in Tom Selleck for a screen test. The only problem? They brought him in after he had already filmed the pilot for Magnum P.I. You can see a clip from Selleck's screen test below.
"After I did the pilot for Magnum, I tested for Indiana Jones and got the job," Selleck explained in an interview with BUILD series.
"Steven [Spielberg] and George [Lucas] offered me the job. And I said, 'Well, I've done this pilot. And they said, 'Thanks for telling us. Most actors wouldn't do that, but we got cards to play with CBS. Turned out, CBS wouldn't let me do it...Harrison Ford hates to hear this. Harrison, this is your role, and you're indelible in it; it's just an interesting story. I signed a deal for Magnum, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I'm proud that I lived up to my contract."
Spielberg and Lucas waited on their offer just in case CBS would budge on their decision, but ultimately, they refused.
"[Spielberg and Lucas] held the offer out for about a month," Selleck told the Late Show With David Letterman. "The more they held out the offer and talked to the network the more the network said no ... so I had to kind of move on."
So while Selleck went on to become a household name playing private investigator Thomas Magnum on his hit TV show, the role of Indy ultimately went to Harrison Ford. As we now know, Ford was perfect for the role and has gone on to star in additional Indiana Jones films -- Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and an upcoming 5th film that Spielberg will sadly not be directing. If you're really curious about what the films would have looked like with Selleck in the lead, check out the Deep Fake video below that inserts his face in clips from the Indiana Jones films.
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