Harrison Ford has played many iconic roles throughout his decades-long career, but he is perhaps best known for playing the legendary Indiana Jones in multiple classic movies. What many fans may not know, however, is that Ford almost lost this role to the former “Magnum P.I.” star Tom Selleck.
Tom Selleck was the initial choice to play Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). He had filmed a pilot for Magnum, P.I. and was unable to get out of the contract. The role later went to Harrison Ford. #TV  #TCMParty  pic.twitter.com/UOiLBFEg1y 
— Hollywood Remembered (@ridethepastlane) June 16, 2021 
‘Harrison Ford Hates To Hear This’
The Express  reported that back in 1980, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were trying to cast the character of Indiana Jones for their new film Raiders of the Lost Ark.
When Ford’s name came up, however, Hollywood executives were worried that they’d already worked with him too much on the Star Wars franchise, and they didn’t want to create a relationship like that of Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese.
“[Ford] has been in two of my movies. I don’t want him to be my Bobby De Niro,” Lucas reportedly said at the time.
So they started looking at other Hollywood stars to play the role, and they eventually settled on Tom Selleck.
“Harrison Ford hates to hear this,” Selleck later admitted. “Harrison, this is your role and you’re indelible in it. So, it’s just an interesting story.”
Selleck Forced To Turn Down Role
Unfortunately for Selleck, however, circumstances beyond his control forced him to turn down the role of Indiana Jones.
“After I did the pilot for Magnum I tested for Indiana Jones and got the job,” Selleck recalled. “Steven [Spielberg] and George [Lucas] – my newest pals at the time – offered me the job.”
Selleck told them about filming the pilot for “Magnum P.I.,” but Spielberg and Lucas assured him that this would not be an issue.
“Well, thanks for telling us,” they reportedly told him. “Most actors wouldn’t do that, but we got cards to play with CBS.”
However, that’s when things took a decidedly bad turn for the three of them.
“Turns out CBS wouldn’t let me do it,” Selleck said. “They held the offer out for about a month.”
Selleck Has No Regrets
Selleck was ultimately forced to decline the role of Indiana Jones because he could not get out of his CBS contract, so Ford was cast in his place. While this stung at the time, Selleck has no regrets about how things turned out all these years later, as he ended up starring in “Magnum P.I.” from 1980 until 1988.
“But yeah, I mean look, I signed a deal for Magnum,” he said. “It was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“I’m proud that I lived up to my contract. Some people said: ‘You gotta get in the car and drive into a brick wall and get injured and get out of Magnum and do [Raiders of the Lost Ark],'” he continued. “I said: ‘I gotta look my mom and dad in the eye, and we don’t do that.’ So, I did Magnum, it’s not so bad, is it?”
And Magnum, P.I. wasn’t the end of Selleck. He currently stars in “Blue Bloods,” one of the longest-running scripted primetime TV shows in the US . In fact, at the end of season 12, the police procedural was 92 episodes longer than Magnum, P.I., and it has a new season coming up in October.
It all worked out for Ford as well, as he played Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, as well as in three more hit movies after that. Next year, he will be playing Indiana Jones once again in a fifth movie that is set to mark the final time Ford will play the role.
In the end, it’s hard not to feel that all of this worked out exactly how it was supposed to for everyone involved!