If things had gone only a little differently, Harry Hamlin would be the one cracking the whip in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Hamlin told Page Six that he was a finalist for the role of Indiana Jones in the first movie of the long-running, blockbuster franchise. In 1978, before Harrison Ford was cast, Hamlin went in to read for director Steven Spielberg, then already known for Jaws and Close Encounters, and writer George Lucas, the producer and director behind Star Wars and American Graffiti.
He failed it spectacularly, and he never even performed. It started right when he walked in with actress Stephanie Zimbalist, who was auditioning for the part of Marion.
“When I got there, Steven came down,” Hamlin explained. “He said, ‘Harry, Stephanie, I’m so sorry, but George’s plane is going to be late. He’s flying down from San Francisco and it’s going to be at least 45 minutes until he gets here.’”
Then, Hamlin said, Spielberg asked them to make a chocolate cake together while they waited. There was a kitchen there at the studio, so the pair had a way to cook. However, they didn’t have a recipe, and Hamlin said neither had experience making the dessert. The actors spent 40 minutes bumbling around the kitchen and talking.
Hamlin said both Spielberg and Lucas were watching and listening to them from afar to see if they had chemistry.
Hamlin didn’t know that at the time, though, and he mentioned his previous knowledge of Spielberg, whose name had come up in his circle of friends. He’d heard it from Amy Irving, a woman who would go on to marry Spielberg in 1985 and split with him in 1989.
“During that time, because Amy Irving had been a good friend of mine, I was talking about how Amy was calling her friend group in L.A. and saying that this guy, this director guy was stalking her in New York and how she was kind of getting annoyed because this guy, Steven Spielberg, was showing up at the stage door every night with flowers,” Hamlin revealed.
Looking back at the experience, Hamlin seems to understand why he didn’t get the part.
“I’d been riffing on how annoying Steven Spielberg was to my friend Amy, so hey, guess what? I didn’t get the part, OK, and I’ve never worked with Steven Spielberg,” Hamlin said, “and I grant you that I never will work with Steven Spielberg and I never learned how to make a cake.”
Yahoo Entertainment has reached out to Spielberg’s team for comment.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle’s newsletter.