By Lucas Seastrom, Lucasfilm
Hold onto your potatoes because Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is celebrating its 35th anniversary today, and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate! And, to celebrate, we were blessed to discover a multitude of facts. You know what they call that? Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.
1. Three pets inspired three main characters.
The film’s three central heroes—Indiana Jones, Willie Scott, and Short Round—are each named after the pet dogs of the film’s creators. Indiana’s name was famously borrowed from Executive Producer George Lucas’ Alaskan malamute (who, can we just say, strikes an odd resemblance to a rather famous Wookiee, who he also may have inspired?). Willie was named after director Steven Spielberg’s own cocker spaniel, and Short Round was the name of the dog belonging to screenwriters Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz (who were themselves inspired by the 1951 film The Steel Helmet).
2. Ke Huy Quan (Short Round) did not intend to audition.
Born in Vietnam, Ke Huy Quan was only 6 years old when he and his family immigrated to Los Angeles. In early 1983, a now 11-year-old Quan took his brother to an open casting call for Temple of Doom. Although his brother did audition, it was Quan himself who caught the filmmakers’ attention, landing him the role of Short Round. “I had never seen Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark, never seen Jaws,” Quan would later say. “So, when I met Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, and George Lucas, I didn’t know who they were. I guess it helped in a way.”
3. It almost wasn’t called Temple of Doom.
The original title of the film was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Death. It was changed to Temple of Doom just eight days before shooting began in April 1983. Like the Star Wars films, the Indiana Jones titles are inspired by the action-packed, comic-book style langue of classic movie serials. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was the first Indiana Jones film to feature the lead character’s name in the title, unlike 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. Doom was also Lucasfilm’s first prequel movie, set one year (1935) before the events of Raiders.
4. “Club Obi Wan” is a tribute to the Jedi Master.
No, you aren’t seeing things. That famous Shanghai nightclub at the beginning of Temple of Doom really is named “Club Obi Wan” after the Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi from the Star Wars saga. The club exteriors were filmed on location in Macao, a region on the Chinese mainland near Hong Kong. Two signs were installed at the filming location, with one entrance reading “Club Obi Wan” and another neon marquee featuring the Chinese translation of the name. And, if you’re a keen-eyed Disneyland guest (aren’t we all?) you might notice a special callout to the Club in the queue for Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye.
5. The diamond has a backstory.
While inside Club Obi Wan, Indiana Jones attempts to trade an ancient Chinese artifact for a beautiful diamond. Years after the film’s release, fans discovered that this was in fact the treasured “Peacock’s Eye,” an object Indy pursues as a young man in the television story Young Indiana Jones and the Treasure of the Peacock’s Eye. In that adventure, Indy and his old friend Remy Baudouin chase clues around the world to find the diamond, which supposedly had belonged to Alexander the Great. While Indy had given up his search, it certainly seems like he’s back on the hunt at the beginning of Temple of Doom. But, he unfortunately only came so close, and yet, so, so far, as he loses the object during the frenzied escape from the nightclub.
6. The bridge collapse was filmed in just one take.
The climactic bridge collapse was one of the most complex shots to film. On location in Sri Lanka, the production crew luckily discovered a dam being constructed by British engineers in a massive valley. The team was hired to build a platform spanning the gorge. Filmed on the ninth day of shooting, every available camera was arranged across the valley (with George Lucas himself manning one). The bridge’s steel cables were electrically rigged with explosives and mechanical dummies were laid in place. Everything had to work in one go. When the big moment came, the bridge successfully blew, sending the dummies (which were designed to kick and flail) 150 feet down to the rocks and water below.
7. You can try the mine cart race at home! (Seriously)
Though a full-sized mine cart track was built onstage in England for use with the actors, many shots in the perilous chase demanded miniature visual effects created by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) at their Northern California studio. With a tight budget, the ILM artists had to think small. Visual Effects Supervisor Dennis Muren and his team had the ingenious idea to use a regular Nikon still camera modified to take movie film. With a smaller camera, the miniature tunnels didn’t have to be as large. The model makers then used tin foil to create most of the rockwork. The small camera was placed on wheels and rolled slowly down the mine track, shooting one frame of film per second. Temple of Doom would go on to win an Academy Awardâ for Best Visual Effects.
Want to keep the celebration going? Check out our 10 FAN-Tastic Milestones Pin Set, which features a special Temple of Doom pin designed by Disney artist Ricky De Los Angeles.