Just about all great movies had casts that were carefully assembled, often times passing over equally talented actors because something just wasn’t quite right. Jurassic Park, one of the biggest summer blockbusters of all-time, was no different and had various actors clamoring for nearly all of its main roles, including that of movie’s director.
With Jurassic buzz hitting peak levels this week in anticipation of the Jurassic World opening, there’s no better time than now to look back at the actors who almost had a part in the original movie.
For the part of John Hammond
Steven Spielberg’s first choice to play billionaire philanthropist and owner of the world’s poorest Yelp-rated theme park was Sean Connery. His asking price was reportedly a bit too high for a film where most of the studio’s money was tied up in special effects, so Spielberg went with Sir Richard Attenborough, who did a fine job of allowing all those people to be eaten by his science project.
For the part of Dr. Alan Grant
Don’t get me wrong, Sam Neill did a fine job saving those kids from Velociraptors as Alan Grant, but maybe Harrison Ford could have done it better? I mean, Ford did have lots of experience wearing a fedora in the jungle. During a talk about the Indiana Jones revival, Spielberg reminded Ford that he had the chance to play Alan Grant, but Ford turned it down, saying the project was like “a trip to Mars.”
Spielberg also considered buddy Richard Dreyfuss and actors William Hurt and Kurt Russell before finally deciding that Neill should be the one to sent to dino island.
For the part of Dr. Ellie Sattler
The part of Ellie Sattler was the role that every actress in Hollywood was after in 1993. A huge blockbuster movie with a legendary director and a part that involved more than simply being on-screen eye-candy? A number of leading and up-and-coming actresses auditioned for the part. Spielberg’s first choice was reportedly Sigourney Weaver, who decided she wasn’t interested for whatever reasons, but Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Geena Davis, Daryl Hannah, and Helen Hunt were all considered for the part.
The part, of course, went to Laura Dern, who Spielberg said “was the perfect Ellie Sattler” and “such an honest actor.”
For the part of Dr. Ian Malcom
The part of smart-assed Ian Malcom would become one of Jeff Goldblum’s best-known roles, but the part nearly went to a younger, widely unknown comic named Jim Carrey. According to the film’s casting director, Janet Hirshenson, Goldblum had always been the original choice. Carrey apparently blew everyone away when he auditioned, but something about Goldblum as a chaos theoretician just seemed right.
For the part of Lex Murphy
Christina Ricci was already a well-known child star in the early ’90s, thanks to her appearances in the Addams Family movies, so she should have been a shoo-in for the part of Lex Murphy. Ricci read for the part, but producers weren’t convinced for whatever reason that she was the right girl to be nearly eaten by dinosaurs, and they went with Ariana Richards.
For the part of Jurassic Park director
Jurassic Park had Steven Spielberg’s name written all over it; adapted from a book and about huge beasts that devour humans, Spielberg was the guy for the job. The job wasn’t always his, though: Before Michael Crichton even published his book, movie studios were already in a bidding war, and each had their director of choice in mind for bringing the story to the big screen. Warner Bros. had Tim Burton in mind for the project, TriStar Pictures wanted Richard Donner to direct, and 20th Century Fox wanted Joe Dante at the helm. James Cameron even expressed interest in the project and said his version probably would have been more violent had he not missed the bidding window.
Crichton already had some history with Spielberg from when the two worked on an earlier project that eventually became ER. So, when Universal ponied up the author’s $1.5 million asking price, bringing Spielberg on was a no-brainer, and the director turned the movie into his biggest blockbuster of the 1990s.