The actress reprises the character she first originated in 1993’s ‘Jurassic Park.’
After first playing Dr. Ellie Sattler in 1993’s Jurassic Park, Laura Dern is reprising the role nearly 30 years later in Jurassic World: Dominion. In the latest installment of the Jurassic film franchise, she as well as her original co-stars, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum, return to star alongside Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. This time, the characters get sucked back into the dinosaur saga after the creatures have been released all around the earth.
Ahead of the film’s anticipated debut in theaters, Dern spoke to ET’s Kevin Frazier about what it was like getting the gang back together, especially reuniting with Neill, and opened up about what made her character so “radical.”
“This is amazing,” Dern says of getting to spend time with her former co-stars, recalling that “one of my favorite memories of the whole experience was the first day that Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum and I had a scene together.”
“We got into a Jeep and as we got in position, we looked out and the crew was surrounding the Jeep and were teary-eyed because they were seeing these characters that they had loved from the first film come back together,” she continues. “I think the franchise has meant a lot to people growing up, and I think [director] Colin Trevorrow wanted to bring the nostalgia of the first film back as well.”
Not only that, but the new film sees Sattler and Dr. Alan Grant (Neill) revisit their relationship from the first movie. While Dern won’t reveal if the two get back together (“Let’s just see what happens!”), she does gush over working with Neill again. “I mean, Sam Neill is the dream come true,” she says.
“He’s just an extraordinary gentleman and the minute I walked [along] that dig site into the tent and there was Dr. Alan Grant, still waiting for me to show up, I was very moved. And it was very special,” the actress says of the two characters’ first scene together, one that recalls seeing them on a dig back in the beginning of Jurassic Park.
Looking back on the 1993 film, in which Sattler was a young, successful paleobotanist and professor who does more than hold her own opposite Grant and Dr. Ian Malcolm (Goldblum), Dern says, “She was radical at the time.”
“We did not see female characters like this in action movies,” she continues, noting that Sattler took control of the situation several times throughout the film, even as conditions continued to deteriorate on the island. “Even when they were dealing with some hardship or injury, she was like, ‘Don’t you worry yourself. I’ll go get the power back on.’”
Not only that, but the character resonated with audiences for decades to follow. “It’s been amazing,” Dern says of “young children coming up to me, young women in science and history and politics now saying what Dr. Ellie Satter meant to them as a badass character, as a feminist.”
“So, how this character has lived for so many of us has become, in fact, a very big part of my life,” she says.
And then to see someone like Howard take over the franchise as Claire Dearing has made Dern proud. “Well, first of all, as a woman who, with an amazing group of collaborators as we talked about in the first movie, we were really fighting for something new for a female character, to then see the franchise continue with Bryce Dallas Howard and now be joined with the amazing DeWanda Wise,” the actress says, “is so great.”
When it comes to what happens next in the franchise, Dern says, especially when it comes to the dinosaurs at the center of these films, “It could never be the end.” However, when it comes to the core characters, “there’s a conclusion to many of the stories that have been left unanswered between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World,” she teases, before adding, “I’m so happy she came back.”
Jurassic World: Dominion is in theaters on June 10.
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