Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny brings back beloved legacy characters Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) but there’s one notable supporting player from the long-running franchise who isn’t in this last hurrah: Short Round, Indy’s sidekick played by a young Ke Huy Quan in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
While it should be noted that only Marion, Sallah, and Marcus Brody (played by the late Denholm Elliott) ever returned for the Indy sequels, many fans have long wondered if Indy and Short Round would ever cross paths again (besides Harrison Ford and Ke Huy Quan reuniting at industry events). Quan himself has also voiced his enthusiasm for reprising the role of Short Round.
Quan’s Oscar-winning comeback in Everything Everywhere All at Once only further fueled hopes for a Short Round cameo (or more) in Dial of Destiny, even though that film had already long since wrapped production by the time Quan took home Best Supporting Actor.
IGN had the chance to ask Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny director/co-writer James Mangold at the film’s press junket Monday if there were any internal discussions about bringing back Short Round.
Director James Mangold on why Ke Huy Quan doesn't appear in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. pic.twitter.com/oIj5rbUht3
— IGN (@IGN) June 16, 2023
For Mangold, it was all about Indy’s predicament in the twilight of his life and which characters, new or old, would best serve that purpose from a storytelling perspective. A middle-aged Short Round didn’t.
“We looked at all these different things, but the first thing we were trying to do was assemble a story that made sense in the present, meaning in the 1969 section of the movie,” Mangold said.
“If you notice… the only person we follow through the whole way is Indy himself. Joined by Helena [Shaw, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge], and I felt like we needed to have a female lead who challenged him. But we looked at all these different things and tried to figure out how they would work. I just didn't want another adult along for the ride.”
The youthful sidekick role in Dial of Destiny is Helena’s associate Teddy, played by teenager Ethann Isidore, and it’s largely the trio of Indy, Helena, and Teddy together for most of the movie.
While Mangold couldn’t find a way to bring back Short Round for Indy’s swansong, the filmmaker is excited by how Quan’s career has turned out. “It's also thrilling what he's done this year, and I'm so happy for him to have suddenly found an entirely new picture to assert both his acting talent and his incredible martial arts skill,” Mangold said.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens in theaters on June 30.
For more whip-cracking coverage, read our Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny review and how to watch the Indiana Jones movies in chronological order.