"He chose...poorly."―The Grail Knight, upon Donovan's demise[src]
In the years prior to 1938, American multimillionaire Walter Donovan had made several generous contributions to the National Museum. His copper mine engineers discovered a stone tablet in Turkey. He and his wife lived in a fancy apartment on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan where he kept the tablet, as well as a manuscript that contained a Franciscan friar's account of the story of the three knights who had found the Grail.
Donovan hired Henry Jones, Sr. to track down the location of the Grail and paired him with Dr. Elsa Schneider to find the location of a grail knight's tomb in Venice. Henry did not trust either of them, but played along regardless to fulfill his lifelong quest to rediscover the Grail. When he found out that she was allied with the Nazis, Henry mailed his Grail Diary back to United States to keep it from falling into their hands. The Nazis captured him shortly thereafter, while his estranged son, Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr., receives the diary in the mail.
Donovan is first seen meeting with Indy in his apartment. While Indy examines the tablet, Donovan expresses excitement about the immortality afforded by the Grail, which Indy apathetically dismisses as an "old man's dream". Still, he and his colleague Marcus Brody join the hunt for the Grail after learning about Henry's disappearance. Donovan sees them off at the airport, warning Indy not to trust anyone.
After finding more clues to the Grail's whereabouts in Venice, Indy detours to Castle Brunwald on the Austrian-German border. There, he reunites with Henry, but they are captured by Schneider and Nazi Colonel Ernst Vogel and taken to Donovan, whose true colors are revealed. When reports of Brody's apprehension by Nazi agents in Iskenderun come in, Donovan goes to the Republic of Hatay. Before leaving, he learns the Nazis have ordered the Joneses' elimination, to which he expresses amusement.
Much later, Donovan and Vogel are seen offering treasure to the Sultan of Hatay in exchange for safe passage through the desert. The Sultan turns down the treasure, but agrees in exchange for Donovan's Rolls-Royce Phantom II staff car; Donovan politely says "the keys are in the ignition". Schneider then approaches and informs them that the Joneses escaped and they must hurry to the Grail.As the Nazis' convoy, led by a World War I-era tank, travels across the desert, Donovan talks with the captured Brody, who lectures him about meddling with powers beyond his comprehension. Up ahead, the Joneses and Indy's friend Sallah spy on the Nazis from atop a cliff. Donovan sees the sunlight reflect off of Indy's binoculars and, after the tank fires a shot orders Brody put in the tank. The Nazis are then ambushed by the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, a covert organization dedicated to protecting the Grail. While the Nazis massacre their attackers, Vogel catches Henry trying to rescue Marcus while Indy and Sallah steal a bunch of horses and camels. After listening to the last words of the Brotherhood's leader, Kazim, Donovan notifies Vogel of Indy as he steals the horses. While Donovan and Schneider continue on towards the Canyon of the Crescent Moon, where the Grail resides, Indy rescues his father and Brody after a chase in which most of the Nazis, including Vogel, are killed.Donovan, Schneider, and their remaining entourage reach the Grail Temple, but are unable to get past the temple's booby traps. The Joneses, Brody, and Sallah arrive and, after a brief standoff, Donovan shoots Henry, forcing Indy to deal with the traps and get the Grail in order to save his father's life. As he clears the traps, Donovan and Schneider follow safely. Finally, they reach the temple's inner sanctum, where the last of the Grail Knights watches over the Grail, which is hidden among dozens of "false Grails". The final test is to choose the true Grail from the false ones; only the true Grail gives the drinker life, while a false Grail takes it away. Faced with this dilemma and knowing nothing about the Grail's appearance, Donovan foolishly agrees to let Schneider choose for him. She picks the most beautiful of all the cups, a golden, jewel-encrusted chalice, and as Indy and the knight watch nervously, Donovan drinks from it. After a moment, he gasps in pain and begins to age rapidly. Realizing too late that the Grail he drank from was a false one, Donovan grabs Schneider, who screams in terror as he horrifically decomposes into a skeleton before her eyes. Indy intervenes and kicks Donovan's skeleton against a wall, where it shatters and crumbles into dust. The knight then states the obvious: "He chose...poorly". Indy then proceeds to choose the true Grail and save his father.
Personality and traits Edit
Walter Donovan was a ruthless, arrogant and greedy man though he was able to hide it under the mask of a warm, genial and understanding person. He was also somewhat hypocritical, as he told Indiana not to trust anybody but immediately trusted his equally ruthless colleague, Elsa Schneider, to pick out and deliver the correct Grail for him. An example of his ruthlessness was his desire for items of great historical significance: Henry Jones Senior regarded Donovan as a man willing to sell his own mother for an Etruscan vase. His desire for eternal life meant he had no regard for others; when two soldiers were beheaded by a trap trying to reach the Grail, Donovan merely ordered another forward despite knowing what would happen and later shot Indy's father so the former would have to get the Grail.
Behind the scenesEdit
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Donovan was played by Julian Glover, who - despite playing an American - is actually British. Glover originally auditioned, unsuccessfully, for the role of Vogel, but was called back to be interviewed for Donovan's part.
During the development of the film's original script, written by Jeffrey Boam, Donovan was named Walter Chandler by writer Jeffrey Boam. Chandler was to die falling with the tank in Hatay (a fate which would later go to Ernst Vogel). Tom Stoppard changed the character's surname to Donovan in his revisions and his death was changed to die for drinking water with the False Grail (a fate originally planned for Kemal (Kazim in the final film) and Elsa Schneider).
The effect of Donovan's rapid aging and explosion into ash was dubbed "Donovan's Destruction" by the ILM staff and marked a technological breakthrough in effects work as the first shot completely computer composited and then scanned to film. ILM used life-size articulated puppets of Donovan's head in different phases of decomposition. Images were scanned into a computer where they were processed to form a seamless transformation.
Donovan is the final boss in the game Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures. Rather than perish upon drinking from the False Grail, he becomes an undead monster who can dislodge his body parts and must be put out of commission by Jones (in this version it's stated instead of Elsa, he makes his own choice, as the subtitles say "Donovan grabs a cup and drinks. But that was not the Grail and in fright he begins to transform into a skeleton").
There were plans by Hasbro for a 2009 action figure of Donovan, but the toyline was cancelled before one could be made. Donovan has never been physically performed on any kind of Indiana Jones merchandise.
In the non-canon game LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, Donovan independently chooses the wrong Grail; he is shown eagerly running to that grail and just immediately drinks from it. Indy never kicks him into a wall, either: Donovan simply ages to death in a somewhat comical manner. Donovan can be unlocked as a playable character in three versions: his tuxedo, his blue-gray suit and of course his undead form (DS version only, although buildable as a custom character in other versions). In the sequel, Donovan is super-powered by a whirlwind, which can only be destroyed through use of a bazooka and silver objects. After being defeated by Indy and Sallah, he lost the control of his tornado and falls to the abbys, destroying the Grial Temple in the process.
In the Last Crusade video game, Donovan gets his head chopped off instead by one of traps of the Temple of the Sun. However, Indy will suffer Donovan's original fate if he drinks from the wrong Grail.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade novel
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade comic
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure
- Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures
- LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (Non-canonical appearance)
- LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (Non-canonical appearance)
- Grail Diary
- The Byzantine Crusader
- From Star Wars To Indiana Jones - The Best of the Lucasfilm Archives
- Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide
- The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones
- Indiana Jones Action Figures
- The Complete Making of Indiana Jones
- Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle