Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge may replace ageing action hero Harrison Ford as the next Indiana Jones, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The British actress and writer will be introduced as Helena, Jones’s adventure-seeking goddaughter, in the upcoming fifth film in the series which is set for release next summer.
But now sources in Hollywood say Ms Waller-Bridge, 37, may take over the lead role from 80-year-old Ford after film-makers shot a series of possible endings. In one version, Ford’s character dies after passing on his famous bullwhip and weathered fedora to Helena.
The as-yet-untitled film began shooting in the UK in June last year.
The set was temporarily shut down after Ford injured his right arm rehearsing a fight sequence.
Ford has played the iconic archeologist in four movies, starting with Raiders Of The Lost Ark in 1981, followed by Temple Of Doom, The Last Crusade and, most, recently 2008’s Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. The films have taken nearly $1 billion (£850 million) at the box office.
In September, producer Frank Marshall confirmed Waller-Bridge’s role was ‘significant’ and posted a photograph on social media of the actress standing next to Ford, writing: ‘Indy and his goddaughter, Helena.’
A source at Disney Studios which owns the franchise said: ‘A handful of different endings have been shot and are being shown to test audiences. In one, Indy dies but not before handing over his bullwhip to Phoebe’s character.’
Speaking at a Disney event to promote the film, Ford pointed at Waller-Bridge and said: ‘I’m very proud to say that this film is fantastic and this is one of the reasons. Indiana Jones movies are about mystery and adventure but they’re also about heart.
‘And I’m really, really happy that we have a really human story to tell, as well as a movie that will kick your ass.’
Film-makers have kept details of the plot under strict guard but actors including Toby Jones, Antonio Banderas and John Rhys-Davies (who plays Indy’s close friend Sallah in three of the previous four movies) are all in the new film.
One source who has seen an early cut of the film said: “There’s everything you’d want; Nazis, fighting on top of a moving train, a chase sequence through a parade and Indy using his bullwhip to fight bad guys with guns. The film is being shown to test audiences. No one knows which ending they will use.’
Ford has confirmed it is his last outing as Indy, saying: ‘This is it. I will not fall down for you again.’
Transformers star Shia LaBeouf had looked set to inherit the whip after appearing as Jones’s long-lost son, Mutt Williams, in the fourth movie.
It is thought that the fifth instalment will now not feature LaBeouf, after producers ruled out the character’s appearance in the story.