INDIANA JONES Star Karen Allen on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: ‘It Stayed Very Beloved’
By Movieguide® Staff
Actress Karen Allen, known for her role as Marion in Steven Spielberg’s RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, never thought she would make it to the big screen.
However, after a surprise audition for the 1981 classic, Allen found herself starring alongside Harrison Ford in the first movie of the beloved INDIANA JONES franchise.
“I was 22 and I had imagined I would just be a theater actor and live in New York,” Allen told PEOPLE Magazine. “Films, to me, seemed like 3,000 miles away.”
“The fact that people are still seeing the film, talking about the film, having an interest in the film, it’s amazing,” she continued. “It’s amazing and wonderful. It’s just one of those films that seems like it gets passed from generation to generation, and it stayed very beloved.”
Allen recalled that she received very little information about her potential role as Jone’s love interest in the movie, Marion Ravenwood.
“Steven came to New York City to meet, not just me, but some other actors he was interested in meeting for the film,” Allen said. “I didn’t know anything about the film. They were being very secretive about it. . . They gave me the scene in the bar, and then I was in love. I fell in love with Marion, and then I really wanted the role.”
Allen said that the production team was not even considering Ford for the role due to his role in STAR WARS as Han Solo.
“I went out [to L.A.] and I screen-tested with Tim Matheson, who had been in ‘Animal House’ with me,” Allen said. “And I screen-tested with a New York actor named John Shea, who I knew a little bit. And they asked me to do the role a few weeks later. Harrison was not even a thought in their mind, because he was Han Solo.”
Despite the seemingly spontaneous introduction into the movie industry, her role in the classic adventure movie inspired her to pursue a career as an actor and director.
“To me, [my career] is more interesting than it’s ever been because I started directing about 12 years ago,” Allen said. “I direct a lot in the theater. And then I directed my first short film a year or two ago. I act in things when there’s something interesting for me to act in. Sometimes in the theater, sometimes in films.”
“As a director, I get to be a storyteller and work on material that doesn’t necessarily have a role for me in it, which is fine,” she continued. “And I love working with actors. And I love choosing material that has some real meaning to me.”
Forty years after the release of the RAIDERS, there have been three more INDIANA JONES movies, with Allen making a return to the franchise in INDIANA JONES: KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL.