Steven Spielberg Threw A Wrench In Sam Neill's Plans For His Jurassic Park Performance

If the art form known as cinema were to end today and no more movies were ever produced, and someone were to make a list of the most influential blockbusters in history, "Jurassic Park" would very likely come out near the top of the list, right alongside several other Steven Spielberg films such as "Jaws" or "E.T." The film is not only wildly beloved to this day, but it pioneered the use of CGI, which has helped to make the last 30 years of filmmaking on the largest scale possible. It's a big film with a lot going on, and a successful blockbuster by just about every measure one can judge a movie's success upon. Yet, Sam Neill, who plays Alan Grant in the film, is nagged by an element of his performance — and, as it turns out, it was Spielberg who threw a wrench in the actor's plans in the first place.

An accent flip-flop

Neill, along with his fellow "Jurassic Park" co-stars Laura Dern (Dr. Ellie Sattler) and Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm), sat down for a reunion with Vanity Fair in anticipation of the release of "Jurassic World Dominion." The film will sees the trio reunite for the first time since the original film, making for a pretty big deal. It also means Neill once again had to break out his American accent, which is something that he is kind of married to now with this character, even if it didn't end up being the voice he originally cooked up for the character of Alan Grant.

The actor explained in the interview that his unique accent came about as a result of some intervention from Spielberg on set. As Neill puts it, the whole thing started on "the day we fried the kid on the electric fence." The kid being Tim Murphy (played by Joseph Mazzello), who got shocked by the electric fence late in the movie once the park's power is turned back on. Neill, elaborating, explained how it all went down:

"Anyway, [Spielberg] came up to me halfway through the day and he said, 'Hey, Sam, you know the accent we were talking about?' I said, 'Yeah, I've been working on it for four weeks....' He said, 'Don't worry about it, just use your own voice.' I said, 'That's great, Steven, thank you so much.' And then four days later, he came up to me and said, "You know that voice you're using now?' I said, 'Yeah, my voice?' He said, 'Somewhere in between.' It's an actor's nightmare! So that's why I get a lot of flak to this day: Sam Neill's American accent in Jurassic Park was a load of T. rex poo."

Due to Spielberg's slight indecisiveness, Neill was forced to change his accent on the fly and it wasn't exactly fun for him at the moment. While he appears to have a sense of humor about the whole thing now, it's easy to see how this was probably frustrating at the time. The nightmare, as he called it, only becomes amplified when the movie in question becomes one of the most enduring hits in cinema history, with Neill going on to reprise the role in "Jurassic Park III" as well as "Dominion." And the accent had to go right along with him.

Did it really matter in the end?

It's not difficult to understand why this might bother an actor such as Neill, especially when "Jurassic Park" is certainly his most noteworthy credit to date. That having been said, did this really end up hurting the movie in any way? I count it as my favorite movie of all time and have seen it more times that I can possibly recall. Not once have I ever thought of the accent as anything other than what it is and, to me, that's just how Alan Grant sounds. I can't speak to the experience of others, but that's how I personally feel about it.

Beyond that, the results speak for themselves. Aside from being a technical marvel and a critical darling of a blockbuster, "Jurassic Park" was as big of a hit as the world had ever seen and went on to spawn a six-movie franchise that has earned billions at the global box office. Is Alan Grant's accent perfect? Maybe not. Is this still a movie about dinosaurs living once again alongside humans? Yes. So, when looking at it through that lens, this is a drop in the bucket.

"Jurassic World Dominion" is set to hit theaters on June 10, 2022.