Hollywood and fans worldwide were buzzing yesterday with the announced release of Indiana Jones 5 in 2019. Harrison Ford will reprise the iconic adventurer with Steven Spielberg back in the director's chair. The logical first thought is Harrison Ford's age. Currently seventy-three, it's hard to imagine how much swashbuckling can be done, especially since Ford has recovered from a near fatal plane crash and a broken ankle on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It leads to speculation that another actor could be doing the heavy-lifting, or the studio may be transitioning to a new lead character.
The last installment, 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, established Shia LaBeouf as Indy's heir. First introduced as Mutt Williams, we learn that he is Henry Walton Jones III, Indy's love child with Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). In fact, one of the last scenes in that film had Indy's trademark fedora blowing into Mutt's hands. So it would seem fitting that this character will be critical in the upcoming film. The question is, should Lucasfilm bring Shia LaBeouf back for Indy 5?
Shia LaBeouf is certainly a capable actor, but his off screen hijinks could be a publicity nightmare for the studio. In 2008 he was a rising star, making the transition from a child actor to a bonafide leading man. Then he went off the rails with headline grabbing incidents. Labeouf has been arrested multiple times for bar brawls, intoxication, and domestic dispute. He also has become a performance artist. Endeavoring in bizarre spectacles that had the internet wondering if Labeouf needed psychological help.
Labeouf has mercifully avoided the spotlight in the last year, but it's hard to imagine that he will be brought back for the sequel. To top off his antics, he wasn't exactly effusive in his praise for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Everyone knows that movie was mediocre at best, but it's heresy for an actor to criticize his own film. Harrison Ford expressed his annoyance at the time. All of these issues with Labeouf lead to the conclusion that he is unpredictable. It would be unwise for Lucasfilm to stake a multi-billion dollar franchise on such a volatile actor.
Recasting the role of Mutt Williams in Indiana Jones 5 gives the studio the chance to add legs to the franchise. They will most likely choose a popular young actor who's on the verge of becoming a star. Sign him to a multi-picture deal, then sit back and see how Indiana Jones 5 does with audiences. A spin-off character is a potential goldmine in toys, games, and product tie-ins for years to come. It also opens up the possibility of keeping Indy as a mentor, schooling his boy on cracking a whip and wearing bow ties.
Shia LaBeouf was a good choice eight years ago, but unequivocally not the way forward now. Again, he can act, but just isn't dependable or have the right personality to carry a franchise. I'd also bet money that he's burned any bridges of goodwill with Spielberg and Ford. Casting a replacement that can take over the reins for a beloved character isn't going to be easy. There are a few semi-famous young actors that come to mind with the physical build and gravitas to pull of Indy Jr. We will have upcoming articles waxing poetic on our choices. Let us know in the comments who would you like to see cast, or would you roll the dice with Shia LaBeouf? Various sources have reached out to Shia LaBeouf's reps, but they refuse to comment about Indiana Jones 5.