Boyd Holbrook was born the same year that Indiana Jones first swung onto movie screens in 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark. Growing up in Kentucky, the actor's first encounter with Indy would come years later, when he and his sister watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. "Watching them jump out of a plane on the raft and cruise down the mountain, I mean, that was really, truly one of my first movie memories I ever had," he tells A.frame.
Decades later, Holbrook found himself on set acting opposite Harrison Ford in the latter's final turn as Indiana Jones. In Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the fifth installment in the franchise, he plays Klaber, right-hand henchman to Mads Mikkelsen's Nazi villain.
"It's good front row tickets," Holbrook says of his scenes with Ford. "It's wild. You're looking at each other, and you're sizing each other up with the long death stare you get into when you're acting with someone. You're locking eyes and not blinking, and you're pretty much looking into their soul. You get to know them really quickly and they get to know you. You're saying lines to them and playing the beats in the scene, but really there's this undercurrent too. A lot of things go on between the lines."
Though Holbrook likens his co-star's body of work to that of Marlon Brando, he found Ford's approach to acting "easygoing." "He's not pushing too hard." Which isn't to say Ford isn't committed to his craft. "Harrison has definitely taught me that you do not walk away unless you know in your gut that you got it and there's not a false note."
"In other films that I've been the lead of, you're just thankful. And I've had the attitude of, 'It's your movie, man. I'll do whatever you want to do. You want to go on and shoot another scene now? You think this one is wrapped? Great.' And then, having that feeling, 'I don't know, something's missing here. I don't have my finger exactly on it,'" Holbrook explains. "I'll never do that now. And I don't care if that comes with being called too passionate — because it makes a difference. I've seen it in person."
Holbrook's role in Dial of Destiny isn't the biggest, but it is memorable. Which might explain why director James Mangold immediately thought of the actor, but then hesitated actually pitching the part to him. The two had worked together on 2017's Oscar-nominated Logan, in which Holbrook played the antagonist, Donald Pierce. "The first thing Jim said to me was, 'I don't want to offend you, but have a look at this. And, if you want to do it, let's talk.'"
Suffice it to say, Holbrook wanted to do it. "Really, it's one of those things when you're reading it, and you're not even getting to your character — I don't come into the movie until minute 25 or so — and you get the goosebumps. My wheels were turning of how exciting this could be," he says. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. There's not going to be another one of these Indiana Jones [movies], and you're kind of reminded of that every day."
The character of Klaber, who was originally written as German, was reworked for Holbrook. And then he was on set in the U.K. with Mangold, having gone from playing in the X-Men sandbox together to making a new Indiana Jones movie.
"He's got this laugh. It's kind of almost like this mischievous laugh," Holbrook says of Mangold. "He's definitely got his hands in the cookie jar."
Mangold will be directing a Star Wars movie next. (Earlier this year, it was announced that the filmmaker will helm a movie about "the dawn of the Jedi.") How early do you start angling to get in there too?, I ask.
"You've done your homework, huh?" Holbrook laughs.
Is that your mischievous laugh?
"You never know, right?" Holbrook plays coy. "You never know with these things..."
By John Boone