Indiana Jones and the Swallowed Bug

The most famous insect scene in the popular Indiana Jones films is from the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when the adventurers stumble across a cavern filled with creepy crawlies. (Point of interest: producers filled the set with 50,000 cockroaches and 30,000 beetles to stage the effect.)

Indiana Jones Belloq eats fly

Although less famous, a different scene from the first Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, is potentially more troublesome.

One dramatic scene toward the end of the film shows Indiana Jones, armed with a rocket launcher, threatening to blow up the Nazis who have stolen the Ark of the Covenant. Antagonist René Belloq (played by actor Paul Freeman) calls Indy’s bluff and tells him to go ahead and launch the rocket. Keen-eyed observers note the presence of an insect on Belloq’s face during a close-up, and as the bug creeps toward Belloq’s mouth, it suddenly appears to be swallowed up.

Did Paul Freeman display his professionalism by swallowing a bug in order to avoid messing up a scene?

When asked about it in an interview, Freeman offered some clarification:

“I don’t think anybody noticed it during the shoot, there wasn’t any hilarity at that point in the film, and I think if you look at it carefully, if you freeze the frame around that point, you’ll see that actually some frames are missing…. I think they just took out a couple of frames when the fly flew off, just to make the joke. I got a very nice review from Pauline Kayland who noted what a devoted actor I was to go through it, with eating the fly and all.”

So much for the heroics of an actor performing his own stunts!

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