‘Indiana Jones’ Icon Karen Allen Talks Role in ‘Going Home’

‘Indiana Jones’ Icon Karen Allen Talks Role in ‘Going Home’ March 27, 2024

Karen Allen, universally known as adventurer and love interest Marion Ravenwood in the blockbuster “Indiana Jones” series as well as featured roles in “Scrooged,” “Animal House” and “Starman,” returned to the small screen with a guest role as Bonnie in the Great American Pure Flix series “Going Home.” The series, which recently concluded its second season, centers on a team of nurses who give comfort and aid to patients who are terminally ill.

Karen Allen “Going Home” image courtesy of Great American Pure Flix.

As a longtime fan who saw the original “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in theaters as a kid, it was a real treat to speak with Karen about her involvement in the show as well as her new award-winning independent film “A Stage of Twilight.” She was also kind enough to let me ask about her memories filming the “Indiana Jones” films, including her final (?) turn as Marion in “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.”


“Going Home” looks really interesting, Several of my friends are hospice chaplains, so they have a lot of experience in this. And as soon as I saw the preview, I sent it to them. So, tell me a little bit about your character and what she’s going through in this season.

I had worked with the producer of the show 25 years ago on a film that I did, with Peter Coyote, called “The Basket.” He sent me this show and he said, “You know, we were sitting in a session talking about this character and not just one of us, but two or three of us, all at the same time said, ‘What about Karen Allen? Wouldn’t it be great if we could get her to play this role?’ And I play a woman whose daughter runs a hospice center. and we are at some geographical distance from each other. My daughter is a grown woman and has chosen this sort of work and we don’t see each other as often as we would like. But it turns out I have had a bad medical diagnosis, and I am attempting to keep it from her, because I want her to continue working and continue moving forward in her career. So, I finally am willing to talk about it and she’s then faced with an extraordinary decision—will she hire someone else to look after her mother in her place or will she take a leave of absence and come and stay with her mother and be with her as she passes? I don’t believe we know the answer to that at the end of the episode. It’s kind of a very interesting position to place, the main character of the story in. So, I was intrigued when I read it. First of all, I was very moved that a show like this existed. I didn’t know about this network. I have to say I’m not one who is out there always looking for another network (laughs). I was very happy to know that a show like this exists.

I think we often see way too many hospital shows where people are dying in accidents and they’ve been stabbed or shot or some horrible thing has happened to them. This is a much more gentle show about people passing with the help of somebody sitting beside them and helping them manage their fears and their pain, anxiety or just to be there to hold their hand for them to feel cared for and loved. I think that as a culture and I have thought this for many years, we have a hard time having these conversations about death and dying and I just love anything that opens that conversation up and makes it more accessible to anyone. So, my hope for the show is that it will reach an audience who will start to talk about these things more.


I also see that you’re in a new film with William Sadler called “A Stage of Twilight.” What can you tell me about that?

Yes, shot that in New Milford, Connecticut, I guess now it might be three years ago toward the end of Covid, although we were still under all of Covid rules, which made it a challenging shoot in many ways. It’s based on a play that I worked on with the playwright for a number of years in New York City. During the beginning of Covid, she turned it into a film script. and we began to work on it to become a film and we shot it. It went to many, many film festivals last year, won quite a few awards at the festivals and got a distributor. And now, I think at the present moment, it’s in about 50 theaters across the country. I came into New York. I’m up in the countryside in Massachusetts, a couple of hours from New York, but I came to help promote it for its screenings here. And I went. up north to Williamstown, Massachusetts to promote it there. I think now it’s on its way to Boston and up to the cape and then out across the United States and will be in Los Angeles and many cities across the US.

It’s also about end-of-life issues. It’s about a husband and wife who have been married for 45 years. He has a progressive illness that has come to a place where he’s been told he does not have long to live. And even though they have a very loving and close relationship, he makes a decision about how he wants to live the last. remaining weeks or months of his life that is something that really, she finds unbearable. So, it really deals with an issue I’ve never really seen on film or, or maybe never even read about. Although I know through my own experience that things like the this do happen, it really just sort of asks the question, ‘Whose death is it?’ What rights do we have in terms of making decisions about our deaths? And do we owe anything to the people who are close to us, who love us, who have supported us? In the end, is it acceptable to make decisions contrary to allowing a person to love and support you through the end of your life? It’s very interesting. I’ve never done a film where I felt the conversations afterwards were more fascinating and people just full of interest in sharing their own experiences. Hopefully this will be a very thought provoking and conversation provoking film.


That sounds fascinating. And William Sadler is so good. Both of you are.

Oh, thank you. He’s fantastic in this film. He gets cast a lot as villains and terrible people and he plays the most vulnerable, lovely human being in this film. I think it may have been what he feels is the best work he’s ever done. So, I hope lots of people get a chance to see it.


Will you humor me on an Indiana Jones question?

Of course,


As as a big fan. . .  I mean, I have the Fedora. My daughter wore it to “Dial of Destiny” and my other daughter dressed as Marion. We were so excited, and I just thought it was pitch perfect. It was awesome.

I’m just not a big one for necessarily reading reviews of films that I’m in and maybe even not for any films because I just feel like, “Okay, it’s one person’s opinion and I really don’t want all that noise in my head.” But I hear things through the grapevine that it has been given a little bit of backlash or something for maybe just being so . . . it is nonstop action, that’s for sure. And the, and while it has much more CGI than any other Indiana Jones film has ever had, it’s really good CGI. It’s done really well. I mean, my big complaint about CGI has always been that you don’t feel the risk or the urgency and it just all looks a little bit like a video game. But I tell you, I think James Mangold really pulled off something extraordinary.


Absolutely. And to see you return, and the finality, the ending. I felt like it was very sweet ending of you and Indiana. How did it feel going back on the set?

It was fun. I would have, of course, loved to have been given more of a story in what they say is the final film. Of course, they’ve been saying that with every film that they’ve done since the third one. But as long as I was going to be allowed to participate, I was very happy that the participation was the two of us sort of ending up together and it was written in such a sweet, sweet way.


It was very fitting, and I felt like I was 15 years old again.

Yay. Well, good. That’s great. That’s great because I went to see Dune Two yesterday and I’ll tell you these big epics that are so well done. They do take you back to that feeling of the big screen and feeling like a child watching this sort of epic in front of you. I had that feeling yesterday for three hours, which felt like a little too long.


Is there anything behind the scenes that makes you think, “Oh, I’ll never forget that!”?

Gosh, there’s probably so many things, I’m just trying to have to now sit and think about what those things would be. I always kind of say the same things because they were true then and they’re still true. When I got to England to do “Raiders of The Lost Ark,” I had only done three films. One of them took place at a college in Boston and one of them took place at a college in Oregon. Eugene, Oregon. The other one took place on the streets in the Bronx. They were all kind of small, realistic films. And I had never in my life been on sets like these. There was something wildly extravagant about the filmmaking and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” I was a young actor, without a lot of experience, and to be out in the middle of the Sahara Desert or to be in France going to actual Nazi bunkers that they haven’t been able to get rid of because they were so solidly built. And to be on the London Sound stages where these incredible crafts people built things like the bar in Nepal and built things like all of the Well of Souls and so many incredible worlds. I think that was something I’ll carry with me my whole life, just the awe and wonder of it all. It was real Hollywood Magic that goes back to, you know, the beginnings of film making. The things I had done earlier were just kind of on the street, in an apartment kind of thing.


I don’t know if you hate it when people say how young they were when they saw Raiders. But my aunt took me to see it. She hated snakes, and she hated rats. Even to this day she’ll say, “I remember DeWayne drug me to this movie and there was nothing but snakes and rats.”

Oh, that’s so funny because the snake sequence isn’t really that long. There’s just one snake in the beginning in the airplane and then there’s a little sequence there for five to seven minutes or something. I guess somebody who’s really fearful of snakes can be so profoundly affected that they think the whole film was fed with snakes.

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Did you have clue of how big it was gonna be?

I guess we did in the sense that George Lucas was at the top of his game. The second Star Wars had just come out to incredible box office and Steven Spielberg had just made “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” which had also just come out to incredible box office. You know that there’s gonna be a lot of anticipation and it’s gonna’ be a big success or a big failure. There’s nothing in between. When you get into the nuts and bolts of making something like that film or any other film. I don’t find that I have the luxury to think about how it’s gonna’ be seen somehow. At that point, the perspective is different, the lens that you’re looking through. When you’re working, it’s so different. Then you see the film after it’s put together. I think the first time I saw it put together, I thought, “Oh, this is a really good film.” And I don’t always think that and sometimes I’m right and sometimes I’m wrong. But I think that I knew when I saw it that it was going to be (big). What do I know about box office? Nothing. But I thought “People are going to like this film.”


Yeah. Well, it’s what a blessing that it’s not just a great film, it’s a touchstone in film history. People mention it when they talk about the history of film, one of the, the top of all time. So, it’s a blessing for me to be able to talk to you about it today. Thank you for humoring me.

Oh, my pleasure.


“Going Home” is currently streaming on Great American Pure Flix. “A Stage of Twilight” is in limited release in theaters.

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