Interview: Reliving Jurassic Park

Ariana Richards with Sam Neill and Joseph Mazzello in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Jurassic Park.

 

BY KATE DAWSON

 

In a move that will thrill movie lovers everywhere, Universal Studios have released all three Jurassic Park blockbusters to Blu-ray, and to celebrate we caught up with one of the original cast members, Ariana Richards, who was all of 13 years of age when she acted in the film as Lex Murphy.

“It was pretty extraordinary,” remembers Richards, now 32 years of age. “I was able to just be free to experience the excitement, the surprises of being a young person on that film set with these incredible dinosaurs.” 

Jurassic Park was a game-changer, delivering stunning special effects and ground-breaking technological advances with the realistically-rendered dinosaurs that roam the picturesque Isla Nublar as multimillionaire John Hammond’s theme park attractions. It’s the awesome visuals, instantly recognisable musical score by John Williams and frightening sound effects (T-Rex breathing just outside the car window anyone?) that will make the remastered edition on Blu-ray a must-own for movie buffs and Spielberg nuts. “I’m really happy to say that I’ve been able to keep in touch with Steven and that friendship means a lot to me,” beams Richards. “When someone is in a place of power like that, they don’t need to treat people as well as he does, but I always remember him being so good with me and Joey (Mazzello), and warm and there with us and enthusiastic. Boy was he enthusiastic! When we would finish a scene, he’d be so excited about our performance that he’d leap up out of his chair and run over and give the two of us a hug. 

“But at the same time, looking back, it’s been interesting for me to note his directing style. Things I didn’t think about as a young person…like his decisiveness. He knew what he wanted, we rarely did more than three takes for any angle in the scenes which was quite refreshing because I’d worked with directors before and after him and for some, it took as many as seventy! That was a bit challenging. Sometimes they didn’t know exactly what they wanted. Plus he gathers a group of people around him that he works with over and over and so being on the set of Jurassic, it felt so smooth, the way everything ran.” 

Ariana Richards – who up until her role in Jurassic, had also featured in the likes of Tremors, Spaced Invaders and Timescape, and afterwards in the Jurassic sequel The Lost World, Angus and Tremors 3 – was surrounded by a top notch cast on the blockbuster, but remembers working with Richard Attenborough best. “I think that Jurassic was so well cast. The characters really fit the roles well and for young actors like Joey and me, to get to be on the set with those people was excellent. I would say who really sticks out in my mind is Richard Attenborough. What a delightful person. An absolute delight and I remember him being very grandfatherly towards Joey and me and spending time with me and sharing stories about his experiences directing and performing and everything that he had done.” 

Although Richards, now 32, has pursued fine art as an alternate career, she says she hasn’t “closed any doors to the world of acting and if some really interesting role comes and finds me, I might be thinking about playing it!” On the rumours that Spielberg is exploring the possibility of rebooting the franchise, Richards’ main concern is that the story be as rich as the first Jurassic Park, which was based on the Michael Crichton bestseller. 

Given the opportunity to reprise her role as Lex, she “might possibly be interested.” 

Lastly, we ask whether Ariana Richards has rewatched the film much, and she responds in the negative, “but I have to say, now that it’s coming out in high definition, it’s going to be a good reason to get it out and enjoy it again!”

The Jurassic Park Trilogy is out on Blu-ray from October 26.

Story reproduced with permission from FilmInk Magazine.

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