Harrison Ford is over 70 years old, a fact that isn’t going to change anytime soon. When Sean Connery played Ford’s father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Connery was younger than Ford is now. Let’s put it another way: when George Hall played “Old Indy” in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, he was only 5 years older than Ford is now.
We love Harrison Ford, but Indiana Jones to iconic a character to age like us mere mortals. While you can cast a movie with Ford portraying Old Indy, you’ll need someone else to play Young Indy during the actual adventures. Might we suggest …
10. Chris O’Donnell
Yes, Chris O’Donnell played Robin in one of the most universally panned Batman movies ever. If that is all that you know about Chris O’Donnell though, please watch NCIS: Los Angeles, Scent of a Woman, or even The Three Musketeers. O’Donnell was also completely underrated in the adaptation of the John Grisham novel The Chamber. O’Donnell can do action sequences, has a really pleasant and likable sense of humor, and is also convincingly intelligent. The latter, for the record, is the main reason that Keanu Reeves was left off of this list.
9. Sam Rockwell
In 1999, Sam Rockwell played the hapless Guy in Galaxy Quest, as well as the horrifying Wild Bill in The Green Mile. People literally had to be told that it was the same guy, which both exemplifies how good of a character actor the man is, and also explains why you probably don’t know his name.
Getting so far into character that people forget the actor is a trait that Ford himself initially tried to emulate, by the way. Ford was once told by a producer that a producer could see Tony Curtis play a bag boy and still know that Tony Curtis was a movie star. Ford responded that he thought we were supposed to simply see a bag boy, and not an actor.
Rockwell has done Shakespeare, comedy, and action. Given half a chance, people would debate Rockwell versus Ford with the same veracity that they now debate Kirk versus Picard.
8. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Kevin Smith was once asked why he suggested Ben Affleck for Daredevil. Smith responded that Affleck was such a versatile actor that Affleck was his response for everything.
Well, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has fit into the Affleck “would be good for anything” persona quite well. Gordon-Levitt is quickly becoming one of the most critically acclaimed and trusted actors in the adventure set. Movies such as Looper and The Dark Knight Rises show that Gordon-Levitt could bring a certainly believably to a role like Indy. Gordon-Levitt also seems to possess the sort of improvisational vulnerability and intelligence required of the esteemed Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr.
7. Noah Wyle
It is no small thing that Steven Spielberg is the producer of the series Falling Skies. Wyle has portrayed intelligence through years of work on ER. The other side of the coin is the Librarian television movies, which happened to be an awful lot of popcorn fun. They were thoroughly in the vein of almost everything we love about Indiana Jones movies. This would indicate that an older Wyle may well be ready to step into the role of Indy.
6. Matt Damon
On the IFC show Bollywood Hero, Chris Kattan asked a producer, “What happened to all those action roles Harrison Ford used to have?” The producer responded “They all went to Matt Damon.” While it is depressing to even mention the continuing career of Chris Kattan, the point made is valid. Once Ford started getting a little old for his go-to roles, Matt Damon started to step in. Damon played “super intelligent” convincingly in Good Will Hunting, and the Bourne movies established Damon as a legitimate action star. All in all, Damon would be instantly believable as Indiana Jones.
5. Jason Sudeikis
Write the following down, or at least remember where you read it: Jason Sudeikis is on the verge of becoming one of the biggest stars in this decade. Sudeikis really just lacks a signature role to put him there, and what could be more signature than the hat and whip?
Sudeikis’ roots in Saturday Night Live would oddly suit him well in the role of Indiana Jones. Lets face facts, Indy is more than a bit of a cad with the women. Jones is also a very smooth operator. Another great facet of the Jones mythos is that he often finds himself in ridiculous cliffhangers worthy of the best of Jackie Chan. Those comic / action situations often requires equally ridiculous solutions. For example, Jones once hung a guy on a ceiling fan. He also backed an opponent into a whirling propeller blade. Both sides of Jones could and would suit Sudeikis perfectly.
4. Josh Brolin
Josh Brolin has definitely emerged as one of the better actors of his generation. Also, quite frankly, Josh just looks the part more than virtually anyone else. The thing that really ranks Brolin so high on this list though, is how he seems to play younger versions of people so well. Brolin nailed the role of Young K in Men In Black III. You can freely debate the merits of the rest of the movie, but Brolin made you believe. Brolin also did the same with a younger version of George W. Bush in Oliver Stone’s W. Brolin just has that uncanny ability to fit himself into other people’s skin. With Brolin’s build, talent, and good looks, his performance as Indiana Jones would rise far above simple mimicry, and straight to the level of true cinema.
3. Sean Patrick Flannery
Honestly, why not go with someone with experience in the role? Sean Patrick Flannery played Indy in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Flannery went on to star in the cult favorite The Boondock Saints, as well as its sequel. Flannery has a great familiarity with the character, and performed Indy admirably. Meanwhile, time has given Flannery a certain “edge” to his performances. Flannery has also grown increasingly bold with his character choices, which would only make his second go-round with the character better and more satisfying. Hey, if Chris Evans can grow from the Human Torch into Captain America, then Sean Patrick Flannery should certainly be allowed to grow from young Indiana Jones into older Indiana Jones.
2. Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig is one of the few actors who can claim to be a spiritual successor to both Sean Connery and Harrison Ford. Of course, Craig took over the role of James Bond (with the personal endorsement of Connery himself.) Craig also got the praise of Harrison Ford when they worked together on Cowboys and Aliens. Craig also lent his voice to Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin, and also starred in Spielberg’s Munich movie. OK, Cowboys and Aliens may have sucked every egg in the chicken farm, but Craig looked awesome in what was essentially an Indy throwback outfit. The only possible roadblock toward Craig portraying Indy might be the number of commitments he already has over the next few years.
1. Joaquin Phoenix
River Phoenix’s death was a tragedy on multiple levels. The world has almost forgotten what an incredible actor was lost. In roughly ten minutes, at the beginning of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, River Phoenix established himself as the future of the Indy franchise. Sadly, that would never come to be. However, Joaquin has successfully managed to step out of his brother’s shadow with a masterful career on film. From portraying historical characters such as Commodus and Johnny Cash, to appearing in critically acclaimed fare such as The Master, Phoenix has established himself as one of the most talented and quirky actors of his generation. Not only would Phoenix portraying Jones further his brother’s legacy, it would put a legitimate Oscar-worthy actor in the role of Indiana Jones.