Steven Spielberg Asked Laura Dern To Come Back For Jurassic World Dominion [Interview]

In the original "Jurassic Park," Laura Dern said one of the best lines in cinema history. Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) muses, "God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs." Dern, as Dr. Ellie Sattler, adds to the chain of events: "Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth." 

Dr. Ellie Sattler was a character like very few others that audiences had seen in mainstream cinema at the time. She was powerful, funny, brilliant, and thought for herself. Dern took that seriously, speaking often about how important it was to see a woman like this on the big screen. Nearly 30 years after the original movie, the Oscar-winning actress returns to reprise the role of Dr. Sattler in the upcoming "Jurassic World Dominion," along with Goldblum and fellow original cast member Sam Neill as Alan Grant. 

The new film is the end of the second trilogy (though maybe not the end of the franchise), and the group — which also includes Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, DeWanda Wise, and Mamoudou Athie — is facing the biggest threat of all: Dinosaurs loose in the world. That is not the only threat, however. Messing with DNA has other applications in the world, and in the hands of a large corporation already known in the lore of the universe for being careless with this sort of thing, it's especially dangerous. 

Since we last saw Ellie Sattler, she's moved her area of expertise from paleobotany to soil science and climate change. She's the world's best hope of averting disaster, and not just from dinosaurs. I got a chance to chat with Laura Dern about how the role reprisal came about, the input she had for her character, and the coolest dinosaur in the film.

When Steven Spielberg makes the call...

I heard you got a call from Steven Spielberg formally asking you to do this. I'd love to know what that call was like.

It was passionate, and excited, and interested in the world of possibility of who Dr. Sattler would be today, and if my buddies Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm were to join, would I entertain this conversation? When a master like Steven is that enthusiastic, you wouldn't say no to the conversation at all. Then to be met with [producer] Frank Marshall's passion, and the incredible, open-minded, and collaborative willingness of Colin Trevorrow to say, "Who should she be today? What's important to you? Here's the story I'm imagining. Where else can we bring all you would want to it?" I mean, it was just such an amazingly warm and inviting familial creation and experiment to bring these characters back. I was so grateful, and that made it really exciting.

So, they asked for your input. What sort of things did you suggest?

Really, because of fans, I know what we put into this film to make sure that a female character was an equal to the men in the story. That she's a feminist, that she holds some — thanks to everyone's hard work — some pretty memorable feminist lines of dialogue, that she have an activist spirit and a brilliant scientific mind, and an independent thinker. When things got tough, she was like, "You boys rest, I'm going to go take care of all of us."

That is not something we typically saw in film, as we know, in the early '90s. So I felt so proud that this became a franchise, and powerful women have continued in these stories, particularly in this movie, all of us together. So it was really important to me that that character hold that kind of independence and individuality, and has evolved in her area of science, being now focused on soil science and climate change, felt everything we would want of Dr. Ellie Sattler. I feel really proud to get to play her again, and how she and the characters from the first film have influenced movie lovers and moviegoers all these years. So, I'm happy to, with an amazing group of people, try to stay true to those original characters.

You can't just have one favorite dinosaur

I love that so much. Now, I don't want to ask you your favorite dinosaur, because no one can pick a favorite child, but what do you think was the coolest one in this film?

In this film? I mean, to work with a Giganotosaurus that's a practical dinosaur, standing in front of you, in its terror and enormity, is pretty mind blowing. That was pretty mind blowing. The Dimetrodon is not friendly. That was also a practical dinosaur chasing me. When you are acting and something that terrifying is chasing you through caves in the pitch black, you do not think about puppeteers having anything to do with it. You are running for your life, that's all I can tell you. So that's pretty memorable, but I'm pretty nostalgic from my first experience seeing the Triceratops in the first movie, as I walked through a field in Kauai, in Hawaii, and saw that animal laying there and fell so in love. So I am one of those people who still believes we actually filmed with dinosaurs, and they are real, and nobody's going to make me believe different.

"Jurassic World Dominion" will hit theaters on June 10, 2022.