Harrison Ford has defied ageist critics by declaring himself "fit" to reprise his role as the swashbuckling archaeologist in the new Indiana Jones movie.
At the inaugural Rome Film Festival, the 64-year-old star said that despite his advancing years he could "bring the same physical action" to the fourth instalment in the successful film franchise.
Ford, who last played the part in 1989 in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, said Sir Sean Connery may return to play his father, Dr Henry Jones. "He's part of the emotional fabric of these films," the actor said. "I believe that Sean is still willing and I'd be delighted if he joined us."
But, also in Rome last week, Sir Sean, the 76-year-old former Bond star, said he had received no offer from the film's makers.
Expected to be released in 2008, the film, provisionally titled Indiana Jones and the Ravages of Time, according to the film website Imdb.com, has suffered more than a decade of production wrangles, industry gossip and delays.
Since 1992, more than five high-profile Hollywood script writers have submitted screenplays for the film, including Chris Columbus of Home Alone and Harry Potter fame and Sixth Sense writer, M Night Shyamalan. But the producer George Lucas and the film's director, Steven Spielberg failed to agree on a script.
This year, it was reported that Lucas originally intended Jones to be "an international playboy like James Bond", but that he was overruled by Spielberg in favour of a more family-friendly version. Lucas, who also made the Star Wars movies, said he saw the character as "a guy who went to casinos and nightclubs and had a lot of girlfriends".
Having threatened to derail completely on more than one occasion, the project finally got rolling again this year with the approval of a screenplay by David Koepp, who worked with Spielberg on the 1993 hit Jurassic Park and, last year, the sci-fi thriller War of the Worlds. In June this year a Lucasfilms executive confirmed a release date of summer 2008, with hopes that filming will begin early next year.
With so many scripts circulating the Hollywood Hills, little is known about the plot for the latest film. Rumours abound that the story will move forward from its Second World War setting to the 1950s.
Some have suggested that Jones's girlfriends from the trilogy will be reunited in the new film. The makers have neither confirmed nor denied the rumours, keeping the plot a closely guarded secret.
Ford did little to satisfy Jones fans in Rome, declining to give details of the shooting schedule of the film's locations, adding that the script was still being tweaked. He said: "What we talked about so far, I think it's a real opportunity to make a film as successful as the ones we've made before".
The first two films in the Indiana Jones trilogy were Raiders of The Lost Ark (1981) and 1984's Temple of Doom.Reuse content