Starring in his first big blockbuster role, Mamoudou Athie is one of the newest additions to the beloved Jurassic World franchise. Having made waves with his performance in the Netflix series Archive 81, Athie has now dove into the world of toothy dinosaurs in Colin Trevorrow’s final entry in the pre-historic series – Jurassic World Dominion.
Following on from the events of Fallen Kingdom, Jurassic World Dominion tells the story of a new age of human and dinosaur cohabitation. The adventure movie is action-packed and directly taps into Steven Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park movies – bringing in legacy actors Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum for a brand new adventure.
Athie plays the role of Ramsay Cole, the head of communications at Biosyn. In our interview with the Emmy nominated star, we discuss how he skipped the traditional audition process to land his role in Dominion and break down what the experience of working on his first multi-million dollar blockbuster was really like.
The Digital Fix: Jurassic Park has been going on since the ’90s, and so many people love it. How do you prepare for coming into such an iconic franchise?
Mamoudou Athie: Oh, you know what? I’m so sorry, but honestly, I did it the same way I do everything else (laughs). I really am just like, ‘Here’s the script. I got the director here; we’re going to chat a lot. I want to work on this the same way as I do everything else.’
And then the rest of it was like learning on the job because there are certain things that were brand new to me. But yeah, honestly, it’s always kind of the same process.
Your character has quite a few scenes with the legacy actors from the original Jurassic Park movies. You mentioned how there were things that you haven’t done before in this film. Did you get any advice from them?
Oh, you know what? Because my first scene was with Sam [Neill] and Laura [Dern] and that… I’ve been saying this a lot, but I really don’t get starstruck. I don’t care, typically. But those two, I mean, not only do I admire their work, but because I’d seen them in those parts, and it made such an impression on me as a kid, I was nervous. And you could tell (laughs). You could tell.
So they kind of helped me relax. And they were just really generous and supportive. So in that sense, it wasn’t specific advice to try like this or anything. It was more just like, ‘Hey, you know, we’re just hanging out here’. And, ‘Let’s go. Yes. Great.’
I read somewhere that you didn’t go through the typical audition process to get your role.
Oh yeah, I know!
Can you tell me how you got cast as Ramsay, and what attracted you to the character?
A phone call and then a meeting with Colin. We just had lobster rolls in Malibu. (laughs) We just chatted for three hours about video games and all kinds of stuff. And eventually, crazily, I got a call saying, he wanted to offer me the part.
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Which I was like, ‘This is, this is the job that I get the offer for?’ (laughs) ‘This is bizarre beyond belief’. But also, what a gift. Yeah, what was the second part of your question?
What attracted you to the character? What made you say yes to Colin’s offer?
Oh, thank you, yes. You know, it’s rare that you get the script these days for these kinds of movies. So I didn’t get the script until after I’d said yes. But Colin had described the character to me. And I was like, ‘Oh, that sounds great’.
You know, he’d seen this movie that I was in, The Front Runner. And there were certain elements of that character that he enjoyed, but also we wanted to make [Ramsay], you know, a new guy.
So yeah, we kind of just worked on it while we’re making the movie to make it kind of the person you saw. He’s certainly more comedic than initially written.
So Jurassic World Dominion is set to be the last one in the trilogy
But producer Frank Marshall said that he’s open to making more movies. Is it possible, if that does happen, that we will see Ramsay return? He plays such a big role in this film.
Oh, yeah! I mean, anything’s possible. You know? Who knows? But it’s hard for me to speculate on when, how, who, and what, you know? But I’m always open. Yeah. It’d be cool.
Following on from that, would you be open to doing more big blockbusters then?
Sure! Yeah, as long as there are cool people – absolutely! Yeah. Colin is great to work with. [Jurassic World Dominion] was really just like a lot of fun. And it was like a healthy set. That’s really what’s important to me these days.
Yeah, how was Colin directing you? Especially with scenes where there are dinosaurs. Because obviously, sometimes those creatures aren’t physically there.
I didn’t have that many scenes with them, though.
Ah, without giving too many spoilers, at the end, you did.
(laughs) Yes, you are right, in the end I did. Actually, there was this one moment, Colin did call me aside because I looked very excited to be on a Jurassic World set. So I was like, ‘Oh!’, and he was like, ‘Hey, man. Hey, hey, this dude looks really happy to be in Jurassic World’. (laughs) That’s hilarious. I hope he shows somebody that footage; it is ridiculous.
But yeah, no (laughs). I mean, it’s really just about, again, precision and just knowing exactly where to look and where to stop and how to interact. And then the rest of it’s your imagination.
Besides Colin pulling you aside, were there any other onset moments that, looking back, were really fun to film? Any you are going to remember fondly going forward?
[laughs] I’m censoring myself. Yeah, I mean, like, especially when we’re all on set. I mean, it was a crazy couple of days because the election was going on in the States, and we were watching what was going on with that. But then we’re also having this crazy time where we are like, looking at this imaginary T-Rex and Giganotosaurus (laughs).
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And then we end up in this helicopter, and then Jeff [Goldblum] ends up reciting this poem from George Bernard Shaw that’s so beautiful. That scene is actually filmed by the BTS team so that everybody can actually see – it was really cool.
It’s just like this very impromptu beautiful moment. Those days kind of as a swirl were like really some of my favourites
Jurassic World Dominion hits theatres on June 10, 2022.