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While much of the attention regarding Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was – understandably – about Harrison Ford, plus the well-known and beloved franchise finale additions in Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Mads Mikkelson, the film also welcomes a (very) newcomer to the mix of globetrotting historic adventures.
In his first feature film and first English-speaking role, French actor Ethann Isidore, 16, appears midway through the Lucasfilm film as Teddy Kumar, the devious sidekick of Waller-Bridge relic thief Helena Shaw. From then on, the teenager – who was just 14 when he was cast and turned 15 during filming – is a regular presence on the screen, heavily involved in the film’s biggest action sequences, including racing of tuk-tuks, aerial chases and IL Quadrant of Destinyit’s a rather spectacular climax that twists time.
Born in the suburbs of Paris and of Mauritian descent, Isidore was already a “huge fan” of Indiana Jones years before the long-awaited final film arrived (and despite being more than two decades younger than the original trilogy). But he doesn’t seem to be impressed with his iconic whip-cracking protagonist, with Ford making faces for him as they filmed scenes together (on one occasion he laughed so hard that director James Mangold kept telling him to focus). He and Waller-Bridge, he says, have developed their own special handshake.
Such was the friendship he developed with his co-stars that at the end of the 8-month shoot, the two gave their young partner an electric guitar and wrote Isidor a letter saying how much they had enjoyed working with him ( “one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received”).
Talking with The Hollywood Reporter from his grandmother’s Paris apartment during the school holidays, Isidore discusses his special audition tactic (which may have been life-changing), the nicknames given to him and Waller-Bridge on set, his upcoming appearance in another epic film franchise and juggle time travel adventures and Nazi attacks with schoolwork.
At the Cannes premiere, you looked like you were having a blast. How was the Cannes experience for you?
Cannes was great. It seems to be in a dream. And everything is so elegant. I’ve never seen anything like it before. And there are all these stars around you. You feel like you are on top of the world. And it also seems like there are all these fireworks that go off when photographers take pictures of you.
Were you able to chat with other stars?
I haven’t really talked to anyone. I was staying at the Carlton, which was the same hotel as Leonardo DiCaprio. But I left the day he arrived at the hotel.
You were part of the Quadrant of Destiny‘s big world tour since then?
Well, I went to Los Angeles, but I didn’t go to Berlin with the other cast members, and I didn’t go to Italy. But that’s okay because I went to the Paris premiere. And I was really happy about that because I was the only cast member there, so everyone was asking me questions. I had to go on stage to talk to about 2,600 people – it sounds like you’re God!
I’m sure you’ve been asked this question a thousand times before, but how did you get into it Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny?
I was coming home from school and my mom told me my agent had gotten a call from a casting director asking me to audition for a “very famous adventure franchise.” This was in Paris. So I went there and I didn’t think I was going to be cast. Because there were so many kids in the waiting room, about 20 other kids. I thought, “yeah, not me”. Then I went to audition. And they called me back, asking me to meet James Mangold in London two weeks later. I met him and he told me he liked what I was doing. And then, two days later, they called me and said I was going to play Indiana Jones.
Wow, was that it? Do you remember what you did during the audition?
I did the same in Paris and London. I had some lines to learn, but there’s something I do for every casting audition, which is I learn my lines last minute, like the night before, so it’s more natural during the audition and to take the pressure off. And it kind of works!
It clearly does. Where were you when you got the call and what did you do?
I was actually on London Bridge facing Big Ben. I was with my family as we were in London for a week. But we called my cousins, my aunts, my uncles, my grandmother, grandfather, all my family from Mauritius where we are originally from. I think the neighbors got a call too.
The original Indiana Jones movies were already aging when I was your age, a long, long time ago. Did you know them or did you have to watch them quickly before the audition?
Oh, I definitely knew them – I used to watch all these movies with my family when I was younger. I had the DVD collector pack. And I also had the lego indiana jones game on Xbox. And I used to do Indiana Jones short films with my cousins when I was about four years old. I was playing an Indiana Jones kid who was looking for animals. I do not know why. I was a big fan!
Most of your scenes are with Phoebe Waller-Bridge. What was it like working with her?
She’s really nice and very funny. She kept making jokes with me and the whole cast. We even got a personal handshake! We were called Bonnie and Clyde on set. I had a line in the original script where I say we’re Bonnie and Clyde. He didn’t get into the movie, but he stayed in people’s minds, and that was what we were called on set.
Harrison Ford doesn’t seem like an easy guy to amuse. Were you able to make him laugh? Was it fun to be around?
When you make Harrison laugh, you feel really proud of yourself, basically like you can make anyone laugh. But I had the time of my life messing with him and we used to make fun of each other. I remember James Mangold kept telling me to concentrate because I was laughing too much during a scene, but that was only because Harrison was grimacing. So it was all Harrison’s fault.
There’s so much to do in the film: tuk-tuk rides, boat adventures, and that spectacular climax. How much of it was real and not done in a studio in front of a green screen?
In fact, most of it was real – we traveled to Sicily and Morocco, and the New York scenes were filmed in Glasgow. And also on the boat, we were actually in the ocean.
Do you have a favorite moment from the entire production?
I think it was the last week because Harrison and Phoebe bought me an electric guitar. They also gave me a letter and signed it, telling me I was doing a great job and that it was great to work with me. I was so happy – I cried when I got it. It was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I have the letter on the wall in my room.
Why did they take you a guitar?
Because I was talking about music with Harrison and Phoebe, and about rock and roll, which I love. And they also know that I’m a musician. I play the piano. So they knew I was going to play it.
Were you able to bring home any other souvenirs from the set?
Yes, I have a rope. There was a scene where I have to tie a rope on a boat – it was really short, like two seconds. But I kept it because I just wanted to have something from the movie.
What were you doing with your homework during filming?
I’ve had teachers on set over Zoom. I had at least three hours of school a day. And every Friday I would have an exam: that’s what all 14 and 15 year olds in France have to do. And it was kind of complicated because I was on set and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to fight the Nazis. And then: math.
Are you back to school now?
Well, now it’s the holidays, but yes, I’m back to school.
What was it like to get back to normal post-Indy?
It was really weird like you were in a dream and someone slapped you and told you to wake up. And you see your math teacher again and you’re like, well, so this is reality.
And what do your friends and classmates think about the fact that you are there? Indiana Jones with Harrison Ford?
At first they didn’t believe me. I was really proud of that, but earlier when I told them they were like, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’. So I had to show them pictures to prove I wasn’t lying. But my friends have been amazing and haven’t changed since they found out. So I’m happy about it because I was afraid people would change. So life is good!
Besides school, what awaits you?
I have a role in Walking Dead spin-off about Daryl Dixon. We filmed it last year – it was really fun to see zombies everywhere. Can’t say much about that though.
So now you have agents in the US?
Not yet, but my French agents are working on it. We will have meetings. We are also waiting for the release to see what happens next.
And now that you’ve starred in a major film franchise that you were already a fan of, is there anything? what else would you like to do?
I would like to be involved in a Spiderman movie. i have a lot of Spiderman comics in my room. I would like to play Miles Morales (the star of the animated film from Sony Spider-Verse franchise) It would be a dream.