By Kyle Buchanan
Jeff Goldblum hopped on the video call from his home in Los Angeles. Sam Neill connected from Sydney, where the brightly colored lorikeets outside were chirping. And Laura Dern, who was away filming the Netflix romance Lonely Planet, dialed in from Morocco with a story for them both: “I was walking down this narrow street in a market in the middle of Marrakech to go into our set,” she said, “and this 9-year-old boy comes running up in Arabic talking about Jurassic Park.”
Though nearly three decades have passed since the trio starred in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 dinosaur epic, that series-starter still manages to resonate in impressive ways. Now, five sequels later, the new Jurassic World Dominion, directed by Colin Trevorrow, has brought the three actors back together in a bid to recapture the original’s magic. It pits Neill’s Alan Grant, Dern’s Ellie Sattler and Goldblum’s smoothie mathematician Ian Malcolm against ever-more-fearsome dinosaurs and links them up with characters played by Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, who have been leading the franchise since 2015’s Jurassic World.
On their late-April Zoom call, Neill, Dern and Goldblum were eager to catch up, engage in some light teasing and ponder how their lasting chemistry as a trio has proved as potent a selling point as all those special effects. “These Jurassic films, they’re often known as dinosaur films, but if you’re not interested in the people, the films don’t work,” Neill said. “Dinosaurs are the bit players, albeit awesome ones.”
Here are edited excerpts from our conversation.
How long has it been since you’ve seen the original Jurassic Park?
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SAM NEILL: The last time I watched it in its totality was sitting beside Princess Di at Leicester Square at the London opening. On the other side of me was my son Tim — he was 11 and completely swept away by it, but about the time the T-rex turns up, Tim started to fart. And the draft was drifting across me to royalty! I spent the whole film in a muck sweat, thinking, “Princess Di is being exposed to the horrors of a little boy’s fart, but she’s going to think it’s me. I am going to be subliminally blamed for my son’s crimes, and I don’t think she’ll talk to me afterwards.” But she was well brought up and never mentioned it.
JEFF GOLDBLUM: I love that story, Sam. I’ve heard him tell that a couple of times, and it’s just amazing the lengths that he will go to still blame the boy.
By Kyle Buchanan