"Life finds a way." And so did Jurassic Park, leaping from the page to the screen with Steven Spielberg's 1993 blockbuster, launching a franchise around prehistoric DNA. Here we'll take a look at 10 things you never knew about Jurassic Park.
The ER connection.
Steven Spielberg met with Michael Crichton to discuss an entirely different project, one that eventually turned into the TV hospital drama ER, which Crichton would later create and executive produce. It was in that meeting where Spielberg turned his attention to Crichton's dinosaur tale, which the author was still writing at the time. When Hollywood got its hands on galleys for Jurassic Park in 1990, a number of high-profile directors were interested as well, including Superman director Richard Donner, Batman director Tim Burton and Terminator director James Cameron.
During a Q&A at a 30th anniversary screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 2011, Harrison Ford cracked that Steven Spielberg only ever hires him for Indiana Jones. "I gotta correct this," the director cut in. "Do you know who I offered Jurassic Park to? This guy. Alan Grant I first offered to this guy." Ford just shrugged and smiled.
Jurassic Park was released the year before Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber. Jim Carrey actually auditioned to play Dr. Ian Malcolm. In a twentieth anniversary oral history published by Entertainment Weekly, the film's casting director said she had Jeff Goldblum in mind when she read the book, but they did put some other people on tape. She said Carrey's audition was "terrific."
Helen Hunt and Gwyneth Paltrow
According to NBC's Today Show, both were considered for the role of Dr. Ellie Sattler. Laura Dern told EW that her Wild at Heart costar Nicolas Cage encouraged her to take the role. "No one can ever say no to a dinosaur movie!" he told her. Dern and Goldblum actually started dating on Jurassic Park; they were engaged for two years.
Spielberg keeps his promises.
Joseph Mazzello screen-tested with Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman for the director's Peter Pan movie, Hook, but he was ultimately too young for the role. According to Mazzello, the director told him, "Don't worry about it, Joey. I'm going to get you in a movie this summer." And sure enough, he cast him in Jurassic Park.
Earth, Wind & Fire.
Spielberg credits the legendary funk band with inspiring one of the movie's most famous scenes. As he sat in his car cranking Earth, Wind & Fire, he noticed the rearview mirror would shake whenever the horns section came in. He began to imagine an approaching T-Rex making a car vibrate which evolved into the glass of water idea. Inadvertently keeping with the musical theme, his physical effects team used a guitar string to rig up the dashboard of the Ford Explorer in the film.
The T-Rex went off script.
Mazzello and his costar Ariana Richards had a little extra help from T-Rex when it was time to act terrified during one particularly pivotal scene. The animatronic prehistoric predator wasn't supposed to actually break through the car's Plexiglass. The crew already knew how well Richards could scream; the actress told EW that she was called into the casting office to demonstrate her chops. When Spielberg was reviewing the footage, it woke his sleeping wife, who ran to check on the kids.
Sam Neill went a little overboard, too.
When the actor lit the flare that distracts the T-Rex away from the kids, he spilled some burning phosphorous, which got under his watch and burned part of arm.
The George Lucas connection.
George Lucas stepped in to oversee the lengthy postproduction process with Kathleen Kennedy, freeing up his pal Spielberg to begin shooting Schindler's List in Europe. Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment producing partner Kennedy of course became president of Lucasfilm in 2012 after George sold the company to Disney.
An Easter (dinosaur) egg.
Steven Spielberg's shark thriller, Jaws, which together with Star Wars helped define the summer blockbuster, can be seen playing on one of Nedry's computer screens.