Why Laura Dern’s first run-in with dinosaurs made her cry | Inquirer Entertainment

Why Laura Dern’s first run-in with dinosaurs made her cry

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:25 AM June 15, 2022



In terms of audience engagement or interest, it isn’t easy for grownup performers to “compete” with either child actors or dinosaurs. The latest film to prove this is “Jurassic World Dominion,” which has earned a spectacular $143 million at the North American box office on its opening weekend, not to mention the $245 million it made internationally.

After the gargantuan reptiles, however, the movie’s next big draw is without a doubt the return of the original cast of Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking 1993 film “Jurassic Park,” namely Sam Neill (as Dr. Alan Grant) and Laura Dern (Dr. Ellie Sattler), along with Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm, last seen in 2018’s “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”) and BD Wong (Dr. Henry Wu, who returned to the franchise in 2015’s “Jurassic World”).


When we talked to Isabella Sermon, who plays Maisie Lockwood, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing’s (Bryce Dallas Howard) adopted daughter, the young actress told us how nervous she was to meet Laura and company for the first time on the set.


Cinematic history

“It was so exciting for me to work with them because when I was younger, I remember watching the ‘Jurassic Park’ films, but I was also really nervous because I was very much aware of how influential they were—after all, they were in this film that changed cinematic history forever.

“As it turned out, they completely blew me away because they were amazing to work with. So, it was a bit of a dream come true for me.”

In our case, we fully understood what Isabella meant when we interviewed Laura and Jeff in their respective roundtable interviews with the Asian press.

When it was our turn to talk to Laura, we almost forgot our first question for the actress because we were so thrilled to finally “meet” the Oscar-, Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning actress, who’s behind such indelible portrayals in “Marriage Story,” “Big Little Lies,” “Rambling Rose,” “Little Women,” “Blue Velvet” and “Twin Peaks.”

Laura, who told us in a separate interview how she has missed taking part in face-to-face roundtable chats over the course of the pandemic, said that returning to the “Jurassic” series just as easily tugged at her heartstrings.

“Coming back to the franchise was amazing,” the 55-year-old actress said, beaming. “It was a process of conversation that started with Steven Spielberg dreaming up the idea of bringing us all back together.

From left: Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern and Sam Neill —PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES

From left: Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern and Sam Neill —PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES

“But when we were already on set, watching Sam Neill putting Dr. Alan Grant’s hat back on and Jeff Goldblum putting Dr. Ian Malcolm’s leather jacket on and we all crawled into a Jeep together, we looked out amongst the people around us and saw crew members starting to tear up at this nostalgic moment for all of us—because we all grew up with the original movie! It was a really sweet moment, and it meant a lot to us.”

Ellie and Alan’s budding romance was another reason that lured the actress back to the fold.

“It was amazing to be back with Sam, and find out who Ellie and Alan are today,” Laura said. “I wanted to know how Ellie has evolved in her life as an independent and single woman, and how Alan may still be where we last left him, but perhaps with regret and longing.

“Steven is very protective of the characters from that first film, and Colin (Trevorrow, director of ‘Dominion’) so deeply wanted to pay homage to their love story. We wanted to know what may have happened to them in real time if given another chance.

“It was also interesting to see the power of Ellie as a feminist and activist in the first film embedded in this franchise at a time when we didn’t see this kind of female character in movies. The idea that maybe she would evolve and pull Alan into her activist narrative was a fun thing for all of us to imagine.

“It was a real collaborative effort, and one that I was particularly drawn to. The environmental messaging inherent in it was also something that I really cared about.”

Her return to the film series, Laura disclosed, brought back a lot of fond memories from the first time she set foot on the set of the first movie 30 years ago.

“I remember the first moment I saw a lifelike dinosaur,” she recalled. “I was walking through a field on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, but seeing this triceratops laying in front of me made me cry! Sam and I were both in awe.

“I will never forget that feeling because, for me, it was the same feeling I got when we all saw the movie for the first time. That feeling of ‘Oh, my God … it’s a ‘real’ dinosaur!’ I had the same experience on this movie with the new dinosaurs. You know, there’s magic that happens in these movies while bringing these creatures to life.

“There was also a sense of family … we tried to keep each other safe while we were shooting during the pandemic. At such terrifying times, that did make the film feel ‘intimate’ … because we lived together for five months—which was something very unique to this experience.

“We hoped that everything would go OK so that we could get our industry back to work. It was deeply challenging and scary, but that also gave the cast a measure of intimacy onscreen that we will never forget.”

Filmmaker’s vision

As mentioned earlier, Laura has been lucking out with award-worthy portrayals in projects that feel “smaller and more intimate.” How different is the satisfaction she gets from appearing in blockbuster flicks?

“You know, I love movies and filmmakers … and I grew up with actor-parents (Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd),” she answered. “So, when I was 20, 23, when Steven called me [for ‘Jurassic Park’], the idea of working with a master on what was going to be an experiment involving the first CGI film was huge. It didn’t feel like a blockbuster. It felt more like an innovation and a pioneering movie experience.

“To watch this franchise grow, then be able to come back to a character that has been loved by moviegoers for many years … it felt like an homage to the love of movies.

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“I feel as deeply connected to this—because it’s a filmmaker’s vision—as the other films that I’ve done that were also based on radical, independent, wild or imaginative ideas from filmmakers like David Lynch (‘Blue Velvet,’ ‘Wild at Heart’), Paul Thomas Anderson (‘The Master’) or Noah Baumbach (‘Marriage Story’). So, I treasure it like all the others.” INQ

TAGS: Dinosaurs, Entertainment, Jurassic World Dominion, Laura Dern

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