Sean Patrick Flanery: Forever Proud of ‘The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

Sean Patrick Flanery says The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was a “wonderful experience” for him as a rising actor.

The Indiana Jones saga concludes with the upcoming film “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” prompting some fans to reflect on where it all began. While Harrison Ford first portrayed the iconic character in the film “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the character’s backstory was further explored in the early 1990s through the ABC series “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.” This series featured Sean Patrick Flanery as a younger Indiana Jones, tracing the adventurer’s early years as an explorer in the 1910s and early 20s.

However, the series only ran for two seasons, primarily due to its inability to garner high enough ratings to justify its substantial budget. The show invested significantly in its production, shooting in over 50 countries to add authenticity to Indiana Jones’ adventures. In a recent interview with IndieWire reflecting on the series, Flanery described the experience as feeling like a “traveling circus times 10,” given the frequent travels to new locations and immersion in diverse cultures.

“It was such an educational experience, not just in filmmaking, but in all forms of life: new cultures, traveling, being able to pick up on [anything] in a moment’s notice,” the actor says. “It’s the whole one key theory. I traveled around the world with one suitcase and sometimes went to cold climates, sometimes went to really hot climates.”

Given how closely Harrison Ford was associated with the role at that point, having already appeared in three feature films as Indiana Jones, Flanery also recalls how he managed to avoid the pressure of feeling like he needed to imitate Ford’s performances, which would have made him feel as though he was setting himself up for failure before the show even started. However, he still wanted to honor the character for the fans.

“I just wanted to be as authentic and do as much justice to this character as possible,” Flanery says. “This character is led by, in my opinion, one of the last Hollywood icon actors of our era. We have some really famous actors now, but Harrison Ford is on the same level as Montgomery Clift or James Dean. He’s one of those names, and I certainly didn’t entertain the idea of trying to replicate what he did.”

He added, “The way the scripts were written, they didn’t force me to mimic Harrison Ford, as they were penned by various writers. Even though the character shared the same name, I didn’t feel the need to compete with Harrison Ford’s portrayal, as that would have been discouraging. It would have felt like I was defeated before I even began.”

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Dives Into Indy’s Origins

There are many aspects to admire about “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles,” but the series didn’t connect with fans in the same way as the movie series did at the time. Flanery also shares his perspective on why the show didn’t become an instant hit, suggesting it might have been due to a lack of tonal consistency from one episode to another. Nevertheless, Flanery expresses that he wouldn’t have preferred it any differently. He is content with the show being exactly what it was and remains genuinely proud of “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” to this day.

“I’ve heard a lot of different viewpoints,” Flanery explains. “The one that keeps coming up from a lot of different people and makes sense is that you never knew what you were getting from week to week. One day you would get a somber, horrific tale and the next week you would get a pratfall comedy.”

He continued, “But I have to say, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Being able to engage in so many different styles of moviemaking, as an actor, was an unparalleled experience. I got to do broad comedy, subtle comedy, love stories, heavy dramas, horrific scenes, and even documentary-style war films. It was a wonderful journey for me, and I’m immensely proud of the show.”