Among Samuel L. Jackson’s many iconic movie quotes (“I have had it with these motherf*cking snakes on this motherf*cking plane,” “And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee,” “First, we’re gonna seal off this pool…”), his most iconic might be “hold onto your butts.” That line, spoken by Ray Arnold in 1993’s Jurassic Park, is the one that screenwriter David Koepp hears “quoted most out in public,” so I can only imagine how often Jackson has some stranger yelling it at him. But where does it come from, as it’s not in Michael Crichton’s novel. According to Koepp, “hold onto your butts” actually comes from Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis.
“I was finishing Death Becomes Her when I was writing Jurassic Park, and we had an ending that was really disastrous at first from one of these horrible test screenings where they almost kill you. So we’d very quickly gone out to shoot a new ending for the movie, but there was little time before the movie came out, so we were in the dailies of the reshoots, and there was gonna be no opportunity to redo the reshoots. So this was it, this really had to work,” Koepp told the ReelBlend podcast. “We sat down in the dailies, and as the lights were going down, Bob Zemeckis said, ‘Hold onto your butts.’ I happened to be working on the script at that time, and I was like, ‘Oh, I love that.’ I went back and I typed it into the script immediately, and then Sam Jackson said it.”
Imagine being friendly enough with Samuel L. Jackson to call him “Sam Jackson.” That’s the dream. Anyway, the next time you tell someone to hold onto their butt, remember that you have Meryl Streep to thank. It’s among the many reasons to thank Meryl.