Harrison Ford Is In Hilo

That’s right; Indiana Jones is in Hilo, Hawaii. The place I was born and raised. Unfortunately, I’m 5,000 miles away from my childhood home, but I am thrilled for my family and friends (and the rest of the residents of our sleepy town) who get the privilege of meeting (maybe) the award-winning actor while he films scenes from the latest Indy adventure. (Producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg has not released the title of the film, scheduled for release May 22, 2008.)

Word has it the actor, who turned 65 yesterday (producers say he still fits into Indiana Jones’ original tight trousers), celebrated with friends on the Big Island. But, according to those in attendance the actor didn’t party like it was 1999. Rather, the action star, who debuted as the fedora-wearing, globetrotting archaeologist, Indiana Jones in the 1981 classic “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” reportedly had a low-key celebration. (Perhaps because he is doing many of his own stunts in the latest film.)

Day two of filming in Hilo wrapped up yesterday. Crew members say they expect to be on the island for three weeks and recently revealed to local reporters that the film’s biggest action sequences are being filmed in the tropical areas surrounding Hilo. (The lush location is doubling as a South American rainforest.) According to producers, after scouting about 15 foreign countries for locations that resembled “old-growth jungle,” the Hilo area was picked because it has a jungle, easy access to an international airport, and decent housing.

Naturally, the filming has created a major buzz around town. Sure, we’ve had movie crews descend upon our town in the past (scenes from “Black Widow” starring Debra Winger were shot across the street from my high school and Kevin Costner’s “Waterworld” was shot on the other side of the island), but having Harrison Ford, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg cruising around our normally deserted downtown area is a HUGE deal. It’s the most action Hilo has seen since nearby Kilauea volcano began shooting molten lava into the air in 1983.

Producers say Hilo (and its surrounding jungles) will be featured in about 20 percent of the film. (Savvy Indiana Jones fans will recall that the Aloha State also served as the backdrop for portions of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”) Unfortunately for my friends only about five on-camera extras were hired for the shoot (though producers say 125 locals were hired to round out their behind-the-scenes crew of 400).

The rest of Hilo’s star struck residents will just have to hope Ford strolls through town while he’s on location.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.

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