Alphabetical movie – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
I think all the folks who love and all the folks who hate Temple of Doom can agree on at least one point: Willie Scott is damned annoying.
Unlike Marion, who is brash and tough or Ilsa, who is, at least, Indy’s intellectual equal, Willie is pretty much whiny and useless.
When she does help Indy out, she does so while complaining. She never figures out how to save herself. She just hangs around waiting for Indy or Short Round to solve the problem and tell her what she needs to do. At which point they probably need to do it themselves anyway. Every time I re-watch the film, I’m annoyed by Willie.
The mistake I think one can make is to blame Kate Capshaw for her performance. It isn’t her fault Willie is such an annoying character. She was written that way.
Capshaw has, I admit, a pretty well-practiced scream. She’s called on to use it an awful lot in the film. She falls from an airplane, she screams. She sees an elderly Indian man, she screams. She goes to dinner, she screams.
Indy has his whip. Willie has her scream.
The Indiana Jones films are supposed to remind us of old movie serials and those serials always had a damsel in distress whose job was to scream and wait for the hero to show up and save the day. Willie is the interpretation of that character.
Did Capshaw like playing a character who seemed more concerned about breaking a nail than she did about her companions trapped in the “crush to death” room next door? Who knows? She might have thought it was as stupid as we do.
But you can’t accuse her of failing to understand the character. She was asked to pay a singer who is used to the finer things in life trapped in a jungle with a bunch of Thuggees who remove your heart before they burn you up in lava. I mean, if I was playing that character, I’d probably spend the entire film acting like I was freaking out.
I’m not sure how much acting was required to look horrified when you have a bug the size of a VW Beetle crawling on your hand. I give Harrison Ford more credit for looking like he wasn’t freaked out. I’d probably freak out worse than Willie did.
Hell, If I had to stick my hand into a hole filled with bugs in order to save Indy and Short Round’s lives, the movie would have been a lot shorter.
There are those who would argue that would have been a good thing.
Is Kate Capshaw a great actress? I don’t know. She didn’t have much of a career after Temple of Doom but you can probably blame that on the fact she married Steven Spielberg and realized she could be wealthy without sticking her hand into a hole with bugs in it.
What you can’t pin on her is the annoying character she played in Temple of Doom. She did exactly what her director asked her to do.
Which, ironically, means we should blame her husband far more than we should blame her.