It's been 27 years since the first Indiana Jones film hit cinemas. Yes, you are that old. Ever wonder what the original cast members are up to these days? Well, Harrison Ford has been cracking his whip and knocking back cod liver oil to reprise his role for the new movie, of course. John Rhys-Davies starred in the Lord of the Rings films, Karen Allen makes jumpers for a living and Denholm Elliott is dead.
But what of Paul Freeman, who played evil Frenchman Dr Rene Belloq? Well, he's sitting in central London hotels, doing interviews to promote LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures. Not much has been revealed so far and Freeman is honest about the fact he wouldn't know a Sixaxis from a sack of snakes, so don't expect what follows to tell you an awful lot about the game. But if you're a fan of Indiana Jones in general, read on for some nice stories about a cobra killing a python and lying on the floor with Steven Spielberg.
Eurogamer: Have you had a chance to take a look at the LEGO Indiana Jones game? What do you think of it?
Paul Freeman: I have had a look, yes. It looks like fun to me. I don't play games so it was all new, but yes. And the LEGO thing will introduce a whole new audience to Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Eurogamer: Does it look like the sort of game you might be able to get into?
Paul Freeman: Me? No. I will never play a game in my life.
Eurogamer: Even though you're in this one?
Paul Freeman: But I'm not, am I? It's this little fat plastic cube... It doesn't look the least bit like me. How could it, a little yellow plastic cube? It wears a white hat at some point. It is better than Marian's, though. They haven't made her the most beautiful LEGO figure in the world, have they? Her hair looks a bit like a tea cosy. It's strange.
Eurogamer: Did you have to audition for the part of Belloq?
Paul Freeman: No. Steven [Spielberg] had seen a drama-documentary I did immediately before called Death of a Princess. My agent said, "Go to LA and meet Steven." They were in George Lucas's offices at the time, a little single-story brick building opposite Universal Studios. Steven and George were lying on the floor. They had one of those first little cassette recorders with separate speakers and a little wire between them. They said, "Come and listen to this," and I got down on the floor and we listened to the quality of the sound. It was the first time any of us had heard those. Think how it's changed now with iPods and headphones and things, but we were all blown away. Then they said, "Here's the script, go away, read it and see what you think." I read it and loved it. It was the monkey with the date that really got me.
Eurogamer: How did you find filming the famous snake scene?
Paul Freeman: Well, I wasn't down there. Apart from the cobra they weren't poisonous. I was up above on a belt, looking at Harrison, who did lose it a bit. He was asking me to help him by shouting extra loud to help him concentrate.
Eurogamer: Are you saying Harrison Ford is a bit of a girl?
Paul Freeman: No! It would be silly to call Harrison Ford a girl's blouse, wouldn't it? He's so patently butch. You've read all that stuff about him being a carpenter, and owning a ranch, and flying planes...
Eurogamer: But he was scared when you did that scene?
Paul Freeman: No, he was losing his concentration because of the whole snake thing. There were rubber snakes all over the floor, and the live snakes were put on top of them. Hundreds. He didn't film it on the day he was supposed to because he said there weren't enough live snakes, so they went and got three or four hundred more.
One problem they had with the snakes was the studio was so hot. When they introduced those torches it got even hotter. Far from running away from the heat, the snakes just fell asleep. They weren't frightened by the flames at all, just comatose. The cobra wouldn't stand up and hood itself for the shots. The crew was at a bit of a loss what to do.
Along with the cobra there were a few pythons. The first assistant director, a very nice man called David Tomblin, had fallen out with one of the pythons over the course of the day's shoot. It had taken a dislike to him and kept trying to bite him, and eventually it did. This python attacked David and he picked it up and dropped it in a glass box, which you can see if you look carefully in some of the shots. As soon as it went in the box, the cobra woke up and killed the python instantly. In doing so it broke one of its fangs. Then the cobra was in such agony for the rest of the day that it stood, hooded, while they did the whole scene.
Eurogamer: That's, ah, lucky. Did you worry at the time you were making the film you'd end up being typecast as a villain?
Paul Freeman: I don't think I worried about it at the time, but it did happen. I was very happy to be typecast, I got a lot of work out of it. That lasted for a few years and then I got fed up because it became a train of playing Nazis. One year I played the commandant of Auschwitz and the commandant of Birkenau in the same year, and I thought, 'What's my career becoming? Am I waiting to play Hitler? I don't think so.' So I said, "No more Nazis."
Eurogamer: A sentiment many of us would agree with. So after Raiders finished filming, did you stay in touch with Lucas and Spielberg?
Paul Freeman: I saw Lucas because we both had babies the next year, and I took my daughter on the set of whichever Star Wars film he was doing then, and we both carried our babies round. They both started crying at the same time, while Ian McDiarmid was doing one of his bits. He didn't care at all. It was his film, Lucas didn't shut the baby up or say we should leave. I also saw Steven that year, on the set of ET. They were both saying at that time they wanted Belloq to be in the next film, but that didn't happen. I don't know why.
Eurogamer: I just had this idea that perhaps you and "Steve" and "George" and "Fordo" have this Facebook group for Indiana Jones people. That perhaps I could join.
Paul Freeman: I don't do Facebook at all, I don't know if they do...
Eurogamer: Will you go and see the new Indiana Jones film that's out this year?
Paul Freeman: Oh yes.
Eurogamer: Some unkind people have suggested Ford is looking a bit old to reprise the role...
Paul Freeman: I guess they'll take that into account. There will be some gags about it, I should imagine. Knowing Harrison, there are bound to be gags about it. He's gagging all the time. I don't think he's too old.
Eurogamer: During my extensive research on Wikipedia, I read that you co-founded the Joint Stock theatre company, have appeared in starring roles at the Royal Court and National Theatre, and were in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie. Did you have to wear a lot of make-up?
Paul Freeman: It was a very strange experience. Power Rangers was a completely chaotic production. The producer kept me in prosthetics for much longer than I should have been so my face swelled up and that stopped production, and they tried to cheat me out of the money... The stories about it were endless. In the end, you know, it's a perfectly serviceable kids' movie. And I'm rather good in it.
Eurogamer: I don't do all my extensive research on Wikipedia, of course. Did you know your autograph is going for GBP 14.99 on eBay?
Paul Freeman: 14.99? That's not much, is it?
Eurogamer: What do you think it's worth?
Paul Freeman: Well, my price hasn't gone up yet. When I do signings I think I get ten quid a photograph, although I never charge for them.
Eurogamer: So you've never been tempted to put your own photographs on eBay?
Paul Freeman: No, I haven't. 14.99? So how does that compare? Do you get four Paul Freemans for one John Rhys-Davies or what?
Paul Freeman: Do you know what John's price is?
Eurogamer: I'll look it up. What about all the hats you got to wear? Have you still got them?
Paul Freeman: There were only two, a pith helmet and the white hat. They were very careful with all that stuff, it all got transported back to LA. Lucas always has the marketing side very closely sewn up.
Eurogamer: It's a shame. You could have put them on eBay.
Paul Freeman: Yes. They would have made a bit more than 14.99.
LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Trilogy is out on 6th June for PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, DS, Wii and Xbox 360.