By Annlee Ellingson
In the eighteen years since Velociraptors first hunted a small band of plucky scientists and a couple of precocious children on the island of Isla Nublar, “Jurassic Park” and its spawn have grossed more than $750 million at the domestic box office and $1.9 billion worldwide. The first film, directed by Steven Spielberg based on the novel by Michael Crichton, won three Oscars, for visual effects, sound effects and sound. The 1993 adventure that brought the Cretaceous Period to life was among the top-five-grossing films of the 1990s and endures as a favorite of the decade. With the trilogy out on Blu-ray this week with more than 2 hours of bonus materials, Celebs.com checks on the stars who played some of our favorite characters of the franchise.
Sam Neill (Dr. Alan Grant, “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic Park III”): Neill appeared in “The Piano” with Holly Hunter the same year as “Jurassic Park,” but he is still best-known for his role as a paleontologist with controversial views on the contemporary counterparts to dinosaurs (birds, he argues, not reptiles) and a skeptical attitude toward children. Since “Jurassic Park,” and aside from his return in “Jurassic Park III,” his biggest hit at the box office has been in “The Horse Whisperer” as the cuckolded husband in a love triangle with Robert Redford and Kristin Scott Thomas, but he’s also appeared on some well-regarded television shows, earning Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for the titular role in “Merlin” and playing Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in “The Tudors.” Look for him next on a mysterious island of an entirely different sort in JJ Abrams’ “Alcatraz.”
Laura Dern (Dr. Ellie Sattler, “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic Park III”): A favorite of David Lynch, for whom she starred in “Blue Velvet,” “Wild at Heart” and “Inland Empire,” indie darling Dern has worked with the likes of Clint Eastwood (“A Perfect World”), Alexander Payne (“Citizen Ruth”), Joe Johnston (“October Sky”), Robert Altman (“Dr T and the Women”) and one-time beau Billy Bob Thornton (“Daddy and Them”). Her highest-grossing film since the “Jurassic Park” franchise was “Little Fockers,” which earned almost $150 million domestically, and she was nominated for Emmys for playing a lesbian in “Ellen’s” coming-out episode and for portraying Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in “Recount,” a role for which she won a Golden Globe. Like her “Jurassic Park” co-star Neill, she also can currently be found on TV on HBO’s “Enlightened.”
Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm, “Jurassic Park” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”): Goldblum appeared in two of the ’90s biggest blockbusters, starring in “Independence Day” in 1996 as well as “Jurassic Park” and its first sequel as Dr. Ian Malcolm, a flirtatious mathematician and chaos theorist who marvels at the lack of humility before nature of the attraction’s backers and scientists. Since then he’s taken his singular vocal delivery to the animated realm, voicing parts in “The Prince of Egypt” and “Cats & Dogs” while appearing in such indie cult hits as “Igby Goes Down” and “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.” TV appears to be where it’s at for many of our “Jurassic Park” alumni, as Goldblum, who’s also an accomplished jazz pianist, also starred in a season of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”
Richard Attenborough (John Hammond, “Jurassic Park” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park): The Academy Award-winning director of “Gandhi” appeared in the first two installments of “Jurassic Park” as John Hammond, the billionaire CEO of InGen and creator of Jurassic Park. His appearances on film have been few and far between since then: He starred as Kris Kringle in “Miracle on 34th Street,” showed up in in Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet” and appeared in “Elizabeth” starring Cate Blanchett. But he has remained active behind the camera, directing Anthony Hopkins in “Shadowlands” and Sandra Bullock and Chris O’Donnell in “In Love and War,” among others. Alas, Lord Attenborough likely won’t be making any more films: He suffered heart problems and was fitted with a pacemaker in 2008, and a fall later that year put him a coma for a few days. He’s now in a wheelchair, although he still enjoys talking about old times.
Joseph Mazzello (Tim Murphy, “Jurassic Park” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”): Mazzello, who played Hammond’s dino-obsessed grandson Tim in the “Jurassic” movies, followed up that part with a few other starring roles in “The River Wild,” “Star Kid” and “Simon Birch.” He eventually earned a degree in cinema and television production from the University of Southern California and wrote and directed a short called “Matters of Life and Death” starring David Strathairn and Rachael Leigh Cook. Then in 2010 he appeared in two of the year’s most significant media events: “The Social Network,” in which he co-starred as Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, and HBO’s “The Pacific” as PFC Eugene Sledge.
Ariana Richards (Lex Murphy, “Jurassic Park” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”): The “Jurassic” movies fall toward the end of Richards’ filmography even though she was one of the younger members of the cast, playing Hammond’s vegetarian granddaughter in the series’ first two films. Bit parts and TV and video roles followed, but Richards had another career path in mind. A descendant of Renaissance painter Carlo Crivelli, she went into art. She has won a national oil-painting competition, and one of her watercolors reportedly hangs in Spielberg’s office.
Samuel L. Jackson (Ray Arnold, “Jurassic Park”) Although his park engineer didn’t make it to the end of “Jurassic Park,” Samuel L. Jackson has emerged as the biggest star of the franchise—indeed, the biggest star ever, if you count all of his roles in all of his movies—amassing more than $5 billion at the domestic box office over the course of his career. The year after “Jurassic Park” was released, he co-starred in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” as Jules Winnfield, an Oscar-nominated turn that marked a turning point for him professionally. Box-office and critical highlights since then include “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” “A Time to Kill,” “Star Wars” episodes I, II and III, “xXx,” “S.W.A.T.,” “The Incredibles” and “The Other Guys.” Most recently, he appeared in the “Iron Man” movies, “Thor” and “Captain America” as part of a nine-film commitment to play Nick Fury in a series of films set in the Marvel Universe, including “The Avengers” due out next year.
Julianne Moore (Dr. Sarah Harding, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”) If Jackson is “Jurassic’s” most successful one-time actor, then Moore, who plays Malcolm’s behavioral paleontologist girlfriend, is the franchise’s most decorated. “The Lost World” (1997) is by far her highest-grossing film with $229 million domestically, followed by her take on Clarice Starling in “Hannibal,” but since then she has appeared in some of the past few decades’ most iconic indie films, including “Boogie Nights,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Magnolia,” “The Hours,” “Children of Men,” “I’m Not There.,” “A Single Man” and “The Kids Are All Right.” She won an Indie Spirit for her starring role in Todd Haynes’ “Far From Heaven” and has been nominated for four Oscars. Meanwhile, she performed on Broadway in “The Vertical Hour,” directed by Sam Mendes, in 2006, and wrote two children’s books centered on a character called “Freckleface Strawberry.” Recently, in addition to a recurring role on “30 Rock” as Jack Donaghy’s Boston-accented high-school pal-turned-romantic interest, Moore starred opposite Steve Carell in the delightful “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” Next up: Moore will play Sarah Palin in HBO’s “Game Change.”
Vince Vaughn (Nick Van Owen, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”): On the heels of his breakthrough role “Swingers” in 1996, Vaughn co-starred in “The Lost World” as an environmental activist disguised as a documentary filmmaker. He appeared in some interesting projects after that, including Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of “Pyscho,” but he really found his footing as a comedy star with “Old School.” That title, along with “Starsky & Hutch,” “Dodgeball” and “Wedding Crashers,” secured him a spot in the Frat Pack. Fitting securely within tha same tradition is his next project, “Neighborhood Watch,” written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and co-starring Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill.
William H. Macy (Paul Kirby, “Jurassic Park III”): A frequent collaborator of writer-director David Mamet and best-known for his Oscar-nominated turn in the Coen brothers’ “Fargo” in 1997, Macy mixed it up with a starring role as a hardware-store owner whose son disappears on a dino-infested island in “Jurassic Park III,” for which Joe Johnston took over directing duties in 2001. This pattern of alternating mainstream Hollywood and indie fare has continued in the decade since with films like the $120 million-grossing racehorse drama “Seabiscuit” and the cool Vegas-set “Cooler,” Jason Reitman’s lobby-industry indictment “Thank You for Smoking” and the $168 million-grossing broad comedy “Wild Hogs.” Lately Macy too has found a home on cable, starring in Showtime’s “Shameless.”
Téa Leoni (Amanda Kirby, “Jurassic Park III): Leoni appeared in “Jurassic Park II” as Macy’s character’s wife at the height of her popularity, coming off films like “Bad Boys,” “Deep Impact” and “The Family Man.” Since then she’s worked with Woody Allen on “Hollywood Ending” and played opposite funnymen Adam Sandler in “Spanglish” and Jim Carrey in “Fun With Dick and Jane.” She also appeared in her husband David Duchovny’s feature directorial debut “House of D,” although they’ve experienced much-publicized marital difficulties since. She can currently be seen as a no-nonsense special agent in Brett Ratner’s comedy “Tower Heist” opposite Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy.