Laura Dern has come forward to share how Dinosaurs weren’t the only unsettling thing in the hit ’90s movie Jurassic Park. Apparently, so was the age gap between her character and Sam Neill’s. In an interview with The Times, the actor reflected on her original role as Ellie in Jurassic Park, and how looking back on it, the age gap between her on-screen love interest in the film that kickstarted the beloved franchise was “completely inappropriate.”
Directed by Steven Spielberg, Jurassic Park tells the story of a group of scientists trapped on an island that is filled with sharp teethed dinos. Dern plays the palaeontologist Ellie, who was in a romantic relationship with Sam Neill’s character in the Jurassic Park cast, Alan. The two characters were broken up by Jurassic Park 3, with Ellie now a mother and happily married. However, both Dern and Neill are set to reprise the roles for the upcoming action movie Jurassic World: Dominion. As such, Dern has opened up about her feelings concerning her character and the industry in the ’90s.
Speaking with The Times, the star revealed that the 20-year age gap between her and Neill was something at the time she didn’t consider strange due to the nature of the industry. But, returning to the role in 2022, she was made aware of how strange the character’s past relationship truly was.
“At the time [20 years] was a completely appropriate age difference for a leading man and lady! It never occurred to me until I opened a magazine and there was an article called ‘Old geezers and gals…’ Well, it felt completely appropriate to fall in love with Sam Neill,” Dern explained. “And it was only now, when we returned in a moment of cultural awareness about the patriarchy, that I was, like, ‘Wow! We’re not the same age?’ […] Our age gap in Jurassic Park was completely inappropriate.”
Although the characters’ ages in Jurassic Park are never clearly stated on-screen, Neill is noticeably older than Dern. The actor’s comments on the massive age gap also highlight that despite being released in 1993, the industry’s view of women was still questionable as problematic power dynamics and relationships were taken as ‘normal’.
Although Jurassic Park is widely beloved, it also serves as a stark reminder of the gender discrepancies in Hollywood that ran rampant back in the day. Luckily Jurassic Park did go on to fix the two characters’ dynamic and showed a beautiful friendship instead – something that we will most likely see again once Jurassic World: Dominion hits the big screen.
Jurassic World: Dominion is set to release on June 10, 2022.