Steven Spielberg Went To Hilarious Lengths To Inspire Jurassic Park's Cast

The rate at which Steven Spielberg has pumped out classic movies over his nearly 50-year career is astounding. From his directorial debut with "The Sugarland Express" in 1974 to this year's Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award winner "The Fabelmans," Spielberg has put out more bonafide classics than perhaps any modern director.

"Jurassic Park" may be Spielberg's greatest film of all. The 1993 adventure film's innovative special effects, amazing score, and strong cast help it stand the test of time (in most ways, at least). On paper, it's not surprising that a Spielberg film about dinosaurs rocked. Spielberg rocks, dinosaurs rock. It adds up.

But despite having a story with an absolutely killer premise, the success of "Jurassic Park" was not pre-ordained. It still required lots of hard work on the part of the cast, crew, and Spielberg himself. Spielberg especially had to work very hard to keep his actors motivated when they had to act without being able to see what would eventually be computer-generated dinosaurs in their scenes. This led to some humorous dinosaur stand-in tactics from The Beard himself.

'He's eating him now'

According to an Entertainment Weekly oral history of "Jurassic Park," Spielberg had to use some creative tactics in order to keep his actors inspired, even when the dinosaurs they were meant to be reacting to didn't quite exist yet. This is according to Joseph Mazzello, who portrayed young Tim Murphy, the grandson of park owner John Hammond who gets swept up in the situation when a tour of the park goes wrong.

"For a long time I was upset, because I didn't get to see any dinosaurs," said the actor. "We were running around in Hawaii with the gallimimus that were supposed to be running past us that were just computer animated. And I remember one scene where the T. rex comes out of the woods, snatches one up, and eats it. What I got to look at was this wooden stick with a dinosaur head drawn at the top of it that I think I, as a 9-year-old, could have drawn and a couple of guys moving it around and Steven screaming into a megaphone, 'Okay, now he's eating him, Joe. He's eating him now. You're looking at him. He's eating him.' I was a little upset."

The film's star, Sam Neill, echoes the idea that even with Spielberg's efforts, reacting to dinosaurs without the dinosaurs proved a bit difficult. "Steven was holding a bullhorn and roaring in a not very convincing way. It's difficult enough acting to a tennis ball, but it's even harder when you're trying not to laugh."

It's the little things that count

The tactics Spielberg used may have seemed a bit silly and maybe even cheap at the time, but clearly history shows they paid off. The dinosaurs did get put into the movie eventually, and they looked fantastic, especially for the time. The film itself was a smash hit as well, and both critics and audiences loved it.

To me, these behind-the-scenes stories are a testament to Spielberg as a director. They show that he'll always go all-out to get the best possible performance out of an actor, even when it requires him acting silly or going out of his own way. He also manages to go the extra mile without getting abusive, like his friend Stanley Kubrick did on the set of "The Shining."

Spielberg's success as a director is unrivaled, and it's the little things he did, like roaring like a dinosaur as Sam Neill, that help contribute to his all-timer status.