When the trailer for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny dropped, we all gasped at the VFX magic that we had been teased with. When a bag is pulled from Indiana’s head, a much younger Indiana Jones appears rather than the 80-year-old Harrison Ford.

De-aging actors isn’t a new phenomenon in film and TV, but it holds a strange place in the hearts of movie watchers. It is strange to see modern-day actors de-aged back into their prime. Rather than gasping and saying, “Whoa, they look so young,” our reaction is typically in response to the uncanny valley.

However, director James Mangold tells Total Film magazine that there was nothing unusual about shooting the young Indiana Jones scenes. Harrison Ford, wearing his original jacket that still fits his body, would act out the scene as normal with the necessary dots on his face to capture the performance.

"I just shot him, and he just pretended that he was 35," says Mangold of his "incredibly gifted and agile" leading man. "But the technology involved is a whole other thing."

How did the team behind Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny de-age Ford? What was the reference they used? Let’s get into it.

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in 'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny'Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in 'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny'Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

How Did Indiana Jones De-Age Harrison Ford? 

The VFX team had a different approach to de-aging tech than other practices. This new approach was possible because Lucasfilm had reels and reels of footage of Ford in his 30s and 40s.

“We had hundreds of hours of footage of him in close-ups, in mediums, in wides, in every kind of lighting, night and day,” Mangold says. “I could shoot Harrison on a Monday as, you know, a 79-year-old playing as a 35-year-old, and I could see dailies by Wednesday with his head already replaced.”

The “digital head replacement” is a tech that was pioneered by Disney and has been used in films like Dark Fateand Gemini Man. Since the footage of a young Ford existed, the process was much easier than it had ever been before.

"It was an incredible technology, and, in many ways, I just didn’t think about it. I just focused on shooting what’s [approximately] a 25-minute opening extravaganza that was my chance to just let it rip,” Mangold says. “The goal was to give the audience a full-bodied taste of what they missed so much. Because then when the movie lands in 1969, they’re going to have to make an adjustment to what it is now, which is different from what it was."

Indiana_jones_and_the_dial_of_destiny_0A de-aged Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in 'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny'Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The de-aging process for the opening scene is crucial as the franchise works to establish a new future for Indiana Jones. While Ford might not continue to be the aging (and de-aging) face of the franchise, we might get some flashback moments that put the familiar face of the archeologist into new releases since there are hundreds of hours of footage from Lucasfilms to pull from.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Source: Total Film