Indy Isn't the Only One Making a Comeback

By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 23, 2008

Sometimes it takes a second of recall, but when it registers, it's a name that can dilate the pupils of most any man within earshot.

Karen Allen.

Karen Allen, in the desert, in heels. Slinging sarcasm, shooting whiskey, pushing and pulling on the windburned affections of Indiana Jones. Freckle-faced and fierce.

And now, gentlemen, she's back.

Still fierce and alluring and, at 56, a leading lady who spent the gap between sequels migrating fully into middle age.

She became a yoga junkie and a theater teacher, started a little knitwear company called Karen Allen Fiber Arts and sent a son off to college. She was working at her shop in the Berkshires on a cold afternoon in January 2007 when a friend answered the phone and said Steven Spielberg was on the line.

Allen (retired from acting) had kept in touch and sent sweaters to DreamWorks for the holidays.

"And I thought at first, 'Oh, isn't that sweet -- he's calling to thank me. Just to say how much he liked the presents,' " she recalls. "And he said, 'So I guess you know why I'm calling.' And there was something in his voice that made me think, "Ohhh, I don't think this is about the Christmas presents.' "

The script for "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" was ready, filming would begin soon and, Spielberg told her, "we've written a wonderful role for you."

"I was really bowled over," Allen remembers on the phone from New York. "I had no idea that they were close to having a script that they liked, and I had no idea that my character would be a part of it. . . . My life was very full and very fascinating in a whole other world. And I wasn't paying much attention to anything that had to do with Hollywood."

She didn't hesitate for a second, and she joined a gym "pretty much the next day," she says.

In addition to Marion Ravenwood of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," Allen is best known for her role as the sweetie-pie coed Katy in 1978's "Animal House." She was 26 years old when she played Katy; 29 when "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was shot. The name that makes hearts race corresponds with a face from 30 years ago.

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