How The Last Jedi Led To Laura Dern's Jurassic World Dominion Return

There's much I can appreciate about or, at the least, excuse when it comes to "Jurassic Park III." Smack-talk the 2001 film's raptor nightmare scene all you want, but it's the perfect tone-setter for a "Jurassic Park" sequel that has little interest in being anything beyond a full-blown monster movie. Even with a script that's mostly a bunch of set pieces flimsily strung together, the film delivers on its promise of big dinosaur action scenes and a game Sam Neill serving up cheesy one-liners ("This is how you play God.") with all the gravitas he can muster as the too-old-for-this-s*** Dr. Alan Grant.

What I can't excuse, however, is the way the movie wastes Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler, who's relegated to a pair of cameos near the start and very end of "Jurassic Park III." Yes, the film's writers had a hard enough time contriving ways to get Alan back on an island full of dinosaurs without having to worry about Ellie, but she's as much as lead as he is in the first "Jurassic Park" movie. More than that, any excuse to include more scenes with Dern in your film is reason enough to do so in my book.

While plans to bring Ellie back in "Jurassic Park IV" were abandoned after the project fell apart years ago, the scrappy paleobotanist will appear in the "Jurassic World" trilogy finale, "Dominion." This time, though, Ellie and her fellow "Jurassic Park" legacy characters (Dr. Grant and Jeff Goldblum's Dr. Ian Malcolm) are said to be playing equal-sized roles in the movie, as opposed to being glorified Easter Eggs like Malcolm was in 2018's "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom." 

As it turns out, you have Rian Johnson's "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" to partly thank for that.

Visiting 'a raptor and his friends' on-set

In the years after "Jurassic Park III," Laura Dern mostly stayed away from tentpoles. Instead, she reunited with her old pal David Lynch for a pair of projects ("Inland Empire" and "Twin Peaks: The Return") in-between acting in indie movies and prestige TV shows, even picking up a well-deserved Oscar nod for her heartbreaking turn in 2014's "Wild" (she would later win one for "Marriage Story"). Finally, she made her grand return to the blockbuster arena as the purple-haired Vice Admiral Holdo in 2017's "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."

Speaking to Digital Spy, Dern clarified that it wasn't seeing Jeff Goldblum in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" that got her interested in coming back for "Dominion:"

"To be honest, actually, they had been speaking about it for some time. You know, what would it look like, what do you think [Ellie] would do for a living now, would you ever consider; so all those questions had already started. But interestingly, not when Jeff was there, but I was making ['The Last Jedi'] at Pinewood when they were shooting ['Fallen Kingdom']. And [producer] Frank Marshall asked me to come through for a visit and, so that was my first re-entry back into, you know, a set with a raptor and his friends. And, you know, we started having more and more conversations around it and it seemed really exciting to me."

It just goes to show: By having the good sense to cast Dern in his "Star Wars" movie, Rian Johnson helped to get the ball rolling on her involvement with "Dominion." Even better, she will get to come face-to-face with some dinosaurs this time around. Well, better for the audience, anyway, Ellie probably has understandably mixed feelings about that.

"Jurassic World Dominion" roars into theaters on June 10, 2022.