“Raiders of the Lost Ark” star Karen Allen sure is a fighter. The actress said she was instrumental in having a scene changed in the 1981 Indiana Jones flick that involved her getting out of a Nazi camp using seduction.
Allen, 69, chatted with IndieWire about the adventure film’s 40th anniversary and how she was able to fix the scene because she thought it didn’t suit her character.
The Illinois native starred in the first and the fourth movies in the franchise as Marion Ravenwood, the daughter of an archaeologist who has a complicated history with Harrison Ford’s character, Indiana Jones. In “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the couple must go on a quest to find a biblical artifact, the Ark of the Covenant, before the Nazis do.
Allen explained she was initially ecstatic to play Marion because the character was the anti-“damsel in distress.” She continued to speak about the scene in question where she would have to be intimately involved with a member of the Third Reich.
The scene originally had Marion attempt to outwit René Belloq (Paul Freeman) to escape her confinement in a Nazi camp in Egypt. Allen had to seduce Freeman in the original scene, and the two actors didn’t want to do it.
Allen said director Steven Spielberg was “open” to making any changes necessary to make the film a box-office hit. “[Spielberg] basically said, ‘Well, if you can come up with something better and you want to show it to me, we’ll shoot it,’ ” she said.
She added, “We came up with this idea that the reason I put this dress on is in order to hide this knife that I’ve taken from the food that they’ve brought me. It’s all about escaping. It’s not about a seduction that gets stopped, which is what it had been in the beginning. We made it about her trying to fool him or lull him into some sort of belief that he was going to seduce her and then she was going to turn the tables on him.”
“There were moments where this wonderful, bright, intelligent, talented boys’ club that had written the script, had, I thought, left her in the lurch in certain moments throughout the story,” Allen continued. “They created this very resourceful, very independent, very strong woman and then sometimes they would, whether it was for comic effect or whether it was unconscious, whatever it was, it felt sometimes like there were moments in which she did become a true damsel in distress.”