It’s hard to believe that Jurassic Park first roared its way on to our screens in 1993, redefining both CGI and our relationship with dinosaurs with one swipe of a claw. An adaptation of Michael Crichton’s hit adult book series, in Steven Spielberg’s hands it became a family blockbuster, launching two sequels and a generation of dinosaur lovers. Now, more than a decade later, Jurassic Park is open once more with Chris Pratt at the helm and more dinosaur fun that you can shake a dilophosaurus at. With the franchise not set to become extinct anytime soon, let’s see how the original cast are holding up…
Sam Neill (Dr. Alan Grant)
Sam Neill headed up the world’s sexiest group of palaeontologists as the surly Dr. Alan Grant, a role he later returned to in Jurassic Park III. In 1993, Neill also returned to his New Zealand roots to star in Jane Campion’s Oscar-winning The Piano, making the early nineties the peak of his career. In recent years, Neill has moved towards the small screen, starring in The Tudors as Cardinal Wolsey and in BBC’s Brum-based gangster series, Peaky Blinders. Sadly, Neill will not be returning once more to the lost world, stating that he was not asked.
Laura Dern (Dr. Ellie Sattler)
Laura Dern’s turn as goddess-amongst-men Dr. Ellie Sattler set her on course for world domination and, with a Hollywood lineage to back it up, it’s not surprising that Dern has worked consistently across a career spanning more than four decades. Appearing as a supporting character in films such as I am Sam and recently The Fault in Our Stars, Dern developed a longtime collaboration with David Lynch, leading to Inland Empire in 2006. Dern finally took centre stage as leading lady and executive producer in her acclaimed HBO series Enlightened, winning a Golden Globe and is next set to star alongside Susan Sarandon and Christina Ricci in Mother’s Day.
Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm)
Jeff Goldblum was already a firmly-established Hollywood veteran by the time Jurassic Park rolled around, most notably gaining industry buzz for his performance in The Fly. He followed Jurassic Park by reprising his role as Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park: The Lost World, which achieved box office, if not critical, success. Since then, Goldblum has starred in numerous theatre performances and continued to bring his particular brand of suavity to the big screen in hits such as Independence Day, as well as joining Wes Anderson’s troupe of players, starring in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Goldblum is currently filming Independence Day 2, in which the aliens presumably have managed to download Norton Antivirus.
Ariana Richards (Lex Murphy)
Jurassic Park achieves the rare feat of having child actors that you don’t actively want the dinosaurs to eat. Ariana Richards starred as Lex, the granddaughter of Richard Attenborough’s John Hammond, whose visit to the park is rudely interrupted by killer velociraptors. Despite her incredible, jelly-shaking performance, Richards’ acting career tailed off after Jurassic Park as she chose to focus on her oil painting career. Her Jurassic Park connection remains though as one of her portraits now hangs in Steven Spielberg’s office.
Joseph Mazzello (Tim Murphy)
Unlike Richards, her onscreen brother Joseph Mazzello’s acting career has continued to flourish. Having delivered the best kitchen-based performance of the decade, Mazzello’s next notable performance came almost a decade later as Dustin Moscovitz in David Fincher’s The Social Network. He has since remained close to Spielberg, with Spielberg writing his recommendation letter for the USC School of Cinematic Arts and later starring in his Band of Brothers spin-off, The Pacific.
Sir Richard Attenborough (John Hammond)
To save the very best till last, Jurassic Park would have most certainly remained closed had the majestic Richard Attenborough not stepped in as the park’s perhaps overly optimistic patriarch, John Hammond. Though an accomplished actor whose career began in the ‘40s and included winning a BAFTA and a Golden Globe, Attenborough’s most significant success was always as a director. He won an Academy Award for directing Gandhi, as well as nabbing multiple subsequent Golden Globes and BAFTAs. Attenborough’s career was winding down in the years preceding Jurassic Park though he did later appear in The Lost World, Elizabeth and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
Sadly, Attenborough ceased working in 2007 after directing his last film, Closing the Ring, and died after a long absence from the industry in 2014. “My work lies where I left it, if there is anyone brave enough and clever enough to take it,” Hammond says at the end of Jurassic Park; we can all be thankful that Attenborough, too, left behind his work. Let’s just hope we are clever and brave enough to take it.