Colin Trevorrow, Laura Dern on Jurassic World: Dominion (Interview)

(from left) A baby Nasutoceratops, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) in Jurassic World Dominion. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Jurassic World: Dominion is the latest film in the Jurassic franchise, and with the return of fan-favorite characters like Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler, Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant, and Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, life finds a way to continue. Director Colin Trevorrow had a huge task of bringing back the iconic characters from the original film, and it was a balancing act of pleasing old and new fans. With Dern back, her character has advanced from the last time we saw her in Jurassic Park.

“It was amazing,” Laura Dern tells Nerd Reactor about coming back into the franchise. “You know the first film is one of my great memories. It was working with Steven Spielberg. It was the first CGI movie, it was the mastery of Stan Winston’s animatronics, and it was John Williams’ score that none of us will forget. And one of the first feminist equals to a group of men in an action film where when things get rough, she goes and saves the day. She isn’t a damsel in distress, which we had seen many times in storytelling.”

Ellie and Alan had a relationship in the first Jurassic Park film. Dern teased about where they’re at in Jurassic World: Dominion along with what it’s like to work with the cast during quarantine.

“And to play that character, and then have her come back now evolved in science, climate change science, evolved in who she is as a woman, as a single woman now, where her potential connection to Alan Grant is, and the storyline they came up with, it was so exciting,” she continued. “And then to meet an entirely new group of people. And because of the global pandemic, all of us moved in together and were quarantined and bubbled together for five months. So it’s the closest family of a cast you can imagine.”

(from left) Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) and Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) in Jurassic World Dominion, co-written and directed by Colin Trevorrow.

The sick triceratops scene with Ellie in Jurassic Park is an iconic scene. In Jurassic World: Dominion, she hinted at what fans can expect.

“Ah, I mean, I love me a triceratops so much I don’t even know how to talk about it,” Dern said. “I could almost cry. And there is a creature I met in this one that is as tender, maybe a baby. And oh, my God. But there are also some of the most disgusting and horrifying creatures anyone’s ever seen. And scale may not be the most terrifying thing. They may come in small sizes.”

Having legacy characters interact with the new characters in Jurassic World: Dominion is no easy task, and Trevorrow knows how important those moments are.

“You know, there’s a lot of respect involved,” the director said. “And yet also, I think the most respectful thing you can do is to put your legacy characters on a new adventure and throw them into danger and give them a real story that that doesn’t feel like they’re just here for the sake of people who want to remember them. They’re here to show us how they feel about this world right now. And that to me was both the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity.”

With new scientific discoveries, people are always learning new things about dinosaurs. For example, feathers are a thing. With the new dinosaurs introduced, we finally get to see some of them show off their bird-like qualities.

“There are a lot of new dinosaurs in the movie and I think that first of all, for me, it’s a huge opportunity to be able to create the look of feathered dinosaurs in this franchise. We’d heard about it,” Trevorrow said. “The kid says, ‘Oh, it would look like a six-foot turkey,’ which kind of sets the bar in a place that people are not expecting it to be scary. And I think the both of them in this film is really scary, and that’s a testament to our designers, to everyone who we collaborated with to do it. I think especially after rewatching, kids watch these movies over and over and over again, I tend to make these movies for a kid who’s watching it for the sixth time, not a person for the first time. I’m sure watching a movie like this for the first time can seem like a lot.”

The big bad is the Giganotosaurus, and it’s the apex predator in the film. (Sorry, T. rex.)

“I wanted ultimately for that showdown to be unexpected because there’s one that we set up in the prologue of the film, which is really the beginning of the film,” the director teased about the T. rex vs the Giganotosaurus. “And I hope if you haven’t seen the movie yet, if you get a chance, watch the prologue before you go see the movie. Because it is set up in a payoff. But to have the Giganotosaurus be a T. rex killer, and to turn this movie into kind of a revenge picture over 65 million years was part of what we wanted to do. And then we wanted to throw something unexpected on top of that.”

Jurassic World: Dominion has the biggest cast yet in the Jurassic franchise. It was one of the hardest parts for Trevorrow to make sure characters had their moment to shine.

“It was the hardest part,” he explained when asked about the balancing act. “That’s a really good observation because not only do you have Laura, Sam and Jeff, Chris and Bryce, and Izzy, and then you’ve got our new character, DeWanda Wise’s character, Mamoudou Athie, and Dichen Lachman. And BD Wong… 9-10 people, and to make sure that each of them had a beginning, middle and an end to their story. It was very carefully thought out, very carefully designed with Emily Carmichael and with the actors themselves. Hopefully, when people see it, they’ll feel how much thought we put into it.”

About Jurassic World: Dominion

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard star as Owen Grady and Claire Dearing and are joined by Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum, who reprise their roles as Dr. Ellie Sattler, Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ian Malcolm. The film also features BD Wong as Dr. Henry Wu, Mamoudou Athie (Oh Jerome, No), Dichen Lachman (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and DeWanda Wise (She’s Gotta Have It).

Jurassic World Dominion, from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, sees the return of director Colin Trevorrow, who also serves as executive producer with Steven Spielberg. Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley also return as producers. Alexandra Derbyshire joins as executive producer.

The film is directed and co-written by Colin Trevorrow, who also serves as executive producer with Steven Spielberg. Emily Carmichael joins the Jurassic team for the first time as co-screenwriter, with the story by Derek Connolly and Trevorrow.

Jurassic World Dominion hits theaters on June 10, 2022.

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