Sam Neill on reprising his role of Alan Grant in 'Jurassic World: Dominion'

The veteran actor returns more than 20 years after starring in 'Jurassic Park 3'

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By CT Desk

Published: Thu 9 Jun 2022, 12:10 PM

Veteran actor Sam Neill is reprising his role of Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic World: Dominion, more than 20 years after starring in Jurassic Park III. Original franchise stars Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum are also returning. Why did Neill decide to join the franchise again? In a statement to Gizmodo, Neill said, “Well, mostly his (director Colin Trevorrow’s) great and abiding affection for those characters and how he wanted them to be completely integrated into the Jurassic World world. And so that persuaded me. And also the idea of hanging out with Jeff and Laura again which, of course, is an attractive one in itself.”

In Jurassic World: Dominion, the future of mankind hangs in the balance as humans and dinosaurs coexist following the destruction of Isla Nublar, an island where the first dinosaur theme park was proposed (as seen in Jurassic Park), which fails to open after the animals escape. In Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), the island is destroyed.

What was your reaction when you first heard about the possibility of coming back to the Jurassic franchise to play the beloved paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant?

Alan probably has trauma from running away from some of the most savage dinosaurs known to mankind. But personally, I couldn’t have been more delighted to have been asked to come back and work with my old friends in a franchise that I have always been pleased and proud to be a part of. So, they dug up my old character, who can still more or less run the hard yards if in pursuit…

Speaking of digging things up, is paleontology a subject that interests you?

If I was going to dig things up, I think archeology would have been more up my alley, as I am very taken with history of all different kinds. I am also not of a scientific bent because I don’t have the math for it. So, paleontology probably wouldn’t have been for me; but I see the attraction of it, and I am always amazed by the mail I get from people that love the subject because of Alan Grant. That’s another contribution this character has made, apart from his sheer entertainment value when he is screaming and running.

He (Alan Grant) is a great character. How do you see him?

I see Alan as being slightly grumpy, but generally a nice guy. He is your average Joe in a hat, because he does get to wear a good hat.

He has a magical re-encounter here with Dr. Ellie Sattler. It’s wonderful to see how a relationship that goes back to the original Jurassic Park gets rekindled in this final episode of the saga.

Look, quite often there is a little bit of a love story as a sub-current running through these films, and I think it becomes more apparent in this final one. These are two characters – Ellie and Alan – that have so much in common.

How was it to reunite with Laura Dern, who returns to that role?

Laura and I have always gotten along really well, and we love acting together. So, to be reunited with her in this film was an enormous pleasure. She is a very dear friend, and a fantastically adept, imaginative, alive, and present actor. To have had the privilege to have worked with her – not once, but three times – has been one of the great joys in my life.

And it’s a privilege for the audience to see the three main characters of the original movie together again in Jurassic World: Dominion, with Jeff Goldblum returning to the role of Dr. Ian Malcolm too, which brings that fun triangular dynamic between the three of you back.

Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm always have a bit of a love-hate relationship that’s fun to work with, for me. And I think Jeff and I have a similar relationship because although I am very fond of him, he can also drive me mad at times, as I am kind of a quiet person, and he never shuts up. I say very little, and he fills the air with “Goldblumisms.” I love his entertainment value, because when he is on, everything is turned up and life is very vivid. I just don’t get a word in!

How does Alan feel about dealing with dinosaurs again, with the added challenge of having them now roam free around our world?

Poor Alan Grant... Every time he gets pulled into these things it’s, “Oh my God, what now?” That’s the big question. All I can say is that it’s going to be even more terrifying than what he has already experienced. If he survives this film, he will probably go into some kind of deep therapy to recover from the trauma, but before that he has a rough and rugged ride to deal with.

And how was the ride of this shoot for you?

This was a shoot like no other, really, because when it started, the pandemic descended onto the world, and everything was closed down. We all lived together, and we had no contact with the outside world apart from our mobile phones. It meant forming life-long friendships and producing a film in which I think the commitment and hard work that went into it really pays off. Jurassic World: Dominion is an epic production.

You have worked with some great filmmakers. What do you believe Colin Trevorrow has achieved with Jurassic World: Dominion?

I just think he has done an extraordinary thing here. I have never seen action like this. It is altogether another level from anything I have experienced before. Colin is an extraordinary filmmaker, and he has done a phenomenal job with this movie. And because I consider him my friend, I am also very proud of him.

How was it to shoot all the action and the interaction with these terrifying dinosaurs again?

We had around 120 sets and all these 3-dimensional creatures. So, the combination between the animatronics and the computer-generated effects gives a reality to it all that I don’t think you can achieve otherwise. It’s not green screen followed by people on computers. The creatures are there and are as alarming to the actor as it is to everyone else.

The Jurassic franchise has connected with audiences all over the world. Could you ever have imagined when you worked on the original movie 30 years ago that it would get to be what it has become?

30 years ago, I never would have imagined that I would be sitting here now talking about the sixth Jurassic film. Back then I was in Hawaii thinking, “Wow, I’m in a Steven Spielberg movie! How did that happen?” And here we are again now.

What do you attribute that 3-decade success to?

I think back then Steven very much set the template for what it would become. We have always had a wonderful cast, and these films work as well for children as they do for adults, which is a very rare thing. We have had fabulous bad guys too, that have added so much. And I also want to pay my respects to all the people that have been eaten by dinosaurs. A lot of people have contributed to this, because it’s people that ultimately give you access to these stories. More than anything else, these movies are just great adventures, and this last one is probably the greatest adventure of them all.

(Text and photos: Supplied)

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