Karen Allen dishes on Indiana Jones, motherhood and the Berkshires


Monday, May 12
GREAT BARRINGTON — Marion Ravenwood is back, and Karen Allen couldn't be happier.

Allen, who played Ravenwood in the 1981 mega-hit "Raiders of the Lost Ark," reprises that role in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" due out May 22 at theaters across the country.

"When I first auditioned for (Ravenwood), I thought, 'Wow, what a fantastic character,' " recalled Allen. "She seemed so interesting. The part was very, very appealing from the first."

For those unaware of the Indiana Jones mythology, Ravenwood first appeared in "Raiders," set in 1937, as a feisty bar owner in Nepal. In her first encounter at her bar with Jones, played, of course, by Harrison Ford, she slugs him in the puss.

"Marion is very self-reliant, very tough," said Allen.

"Crystal Skull" is set 20 years after "Raiders," and Marion and Indiana Jones resume their on-again, off-again relationship in the film. Allen said she cannot be too specific about her character — or the movie — due to a confidentiality agreement.

"If I say anything, a ninja will drop through the ceiling and stop me," she joked.

But regarding her character, Allen said, "I think the writers did a lovely job with her. They allowed Marion to be 20 years older than she was in the first movie, but she's still very feisty. She's still a very independent and determined woman."

Director Steven Spielberg contacted Allen in January of 2007 and asked her to be in "Crystal Skull."

"I was thrilled," she said. "I was delighted."

The film was shot at Yale University in New Haven, in New Mexico, in Hilo Hawaii and in Los Angeles. Allen said she spent about 10 days shooting in Hawaii and three more months working in Los Angeles.

"I had a blast," she said. "It's a really great story. And the actors I worked with — Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBoeuf, John Hurt — they were so much fun. Everyone was great."

And what of Harrison Ford, the star of the film?

"He's just got it down," she said. "He's got that character (Indiana Jones) nailed."

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Allen, who does not seem to have aged a heck of a lot since the 1981 movie, now is a full-time resident of the Berkshires. She owns her own business, Karen Allen Fiber Arts, and is a well-known fixture in downtown Great Barrington.

A single mom, Allen has a son, Nicholas, who is now a freshman in college.

"I love it here," she said. "I raised my son here and I was very happy with the schools here."

With Nicholas now a collegian, Allen conceded that she is now at least able to think about more film roles.

"When my son was growing up, I was very reluctant to do films, especially when he was in junior high school and high school," she said. "I didn't know how it would work. I didn't want to disrupt his life by being away for months at a time, or by pulling him out of school to be with me. How do you do that and not make his life crazy?"

Allen's former husband, actor Kale Brown, recently relocated to the Berkshires to help raise Nicholas. It is a move that Allen said she appreciates, as it creates a more extensive support system for her should she need to take time off to pursue other films.

Born in Illinois, Allen and her family moved around considerably due to her father's job as an FBI agent. She graduated from high school in Maryland and lived in New York during her early acting days. These days, she calls the Berkshires home.

"The Berkshires are a very, very beautiful place," she said. "When I go on trips to Italy or Spain, I look around and I think, 'Maybe I'll live here some day.' But then I realize, there's no place as beautiful as the Berkshires. I imagine I'll be here the rest of my life."

About the movie
Full title: "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"

Release date: May 22

Running time: 123 minutes

Director: Steven Spielberg

Executive producer: George Lucas

Starring: Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones), Karen Allen (Marion Ravenwood), Cate Blanchett (Irina Spalko), Shia LaBeouf (Mutt) and Ray Winestone (Mac)

Budget: $185 million


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