To borrow one of her most famous lines, Laura Dern’s back in business.
‘I just love this character,’ she says of her palaeobotanist from Steven Spielberg’s 1993 dinosaur classic Jurassic Park.
‘I feel blessed to get to play her again. I mean, how beautiful to have all these years of people inspired and influenced by the film and this character – particularly women who’ve told me the industries they have gone into because of Dr Ellie Sattler.’
We’re chatting over Zoom, with Dern, 55, sitting right alongside a poster for Jurassic World Dominion, the roar-some conclusion to one of the biggest movie franchises of all time.
Just like last year’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the legacy cast return, with Dern reunited with former co-stars Sam Neill (as paleontologist Alan Grant) and
Jeff Goldblum (chaos theory-spouting Dr Ian Malcolm).
As reunions go, when this trio finally got to London’s Pinewood Studios in 2020, it was emotional.
‘When the three of us came together the first day we shot, we took pictures. I sent up a photo and text to Steven and with [director] Colin [Trevorrow] taking all these photos… we all got very teary,’ Dern admits.
‘I mean, we had to take a minute to go, “Oh my God, here we are” before we even shot our first scene together.’
Dinosaurs are now living among us and Dominion’s epic globetrotting plot brings together Dern and co with the stars of the more recent Jurassic World films, including Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Now divorced, feminist icon Sattler
is a soil scientist and climate change activist.
‘We wanted her to have the independence, the power and the professional growth that we would expect,’ says Dern. ‘She’s living her best life!’
When Ellie suspects sneaky dinosaur company BioSyn is involved in an impending eco-catastrophe, it brings her back into the orbit of Grant, whom she last saw in 2001’s Jurassic Park III. So is romance – finally – on the cards?
‘These two people know each other like no one else knows them,’ the actress says coyly. ‘And there are definitely sparks, even if they’re not willing to admit them.’
Today Dern is wearing a burgundy red pantsuit by Stella McCartney, who designed Ellie’s briefcase in the film and is a big supporter of sustainable fashion.
‘She’s such a leader in this industry,’ says Dern, who also worked closely with costume designer Joanna Johnston to ensure the fabrics used were ethical. ‘The sneakers are vegan, there’s no leather, my shirt is made from sustainable bamboo. Ellie would be happy with the choices.’
It seems apt, given Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park novel was all about mankind wrecking the planet by playing God.
‘It’s outrageous to think that there is no science fiction component to this franchise,’ says Dern. ‘There is cloning, there is genetically modified seed and crop. Corporate greed will be the thing that stands in the way of us saving ourselves. And it is what got us here.’
Whether it prompts a green revolution, Dominion certainly brings the scares, with more dinosaur species than ever.
Like the original, animatronic puppets feature, including the giant giganotosaurus, the franchise’s latest (and largest) predator.‘It’s pretty luxurious to have a terrifying beast right in front of you, let me tell you, ’cos he was – in full size, in full scale – coming after us, making lots of noise,’ says Dern. ‘That was extraordinary.’
Moreover, it brings her full circle – a journey that began 30 years ago and led to an explosion in Jurassic fandom.
‘It’s like an organism that keeps growing,’ she says, convinced fans will feel this is the perfect end.
‘It’s a summation and a culmination – the love story we’ve waited for, the family bond we’ve wanted, all-new dinosaurs, major action sequences. I don’t know how they did all of it but it’s all in this movie.’
Jurassic World Dominion is in cinemas from Friday.