It’s impossible to not love Chris Pratt, but will his performance in Jurassic World resonate in two decades? Probably not, but it’s also not possible for another Jurassic film to rock our collective worlds like the original did. Much like Alan Grant and Ellie Statler when they saw real live dinosaurs, we saw an impossible thing for the first time when we watched that film and it changed our view of all other movies. In essence, Jurassic Park was a tide that rose all boats, framing the performances in a more favorable way than might have been the case had this been any other film.
That’s not to say that Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, Sir Richard Attenborough, and guy who got eaten on a toilet didn’t contribute to the majesty of the film — they did, especially guy who got eaten on a toilet — but we remember them more because of the film itself. And so, as we prepare to return to Jurassic Park once more this weekend, let’s take a look at that cast and see what they’ve been up to.
Sam Neill (Dr. Alan Grant)
Following the success of Jurassic Park, Neill went on to co-star in Event Horizon — which still gives me the fear sweats in the nighttime when I foolishly watch it. He also starred in the big screen adaptation of Perfect Strangers as, “The Man,” though now that I think about it, I’m not sure that project was connected to the beloved TGIF TV show. Because if it had been, I would have been all up in the theater watching that film.
Neill’s done some solid TV work of late, appearing as a Cardinal (the religious kind, not the bird type) in The Tudors and as Major Chester Campbell in Peaky Blinders. He also returned to play paleontologist/neckerchief enthusiast Alan Grant once more in Jurassic Park 3.
Laura Dern (Dr. Ellie Sattler)
Dern has cultivated a career that has, at times, been a bit surprising in an enjoyable way. Like all-of-the-sudden ice cream.
She followed her work as paleobotanist Ellie Sattler in Dinosaur Comin, Run-Run with a role in Clint Eastwood’s A Perfect World and Citizen Ruth, where she played a spray paint huffer in the midst of an abortion debate (it was not a box office champion). Then she and an airport full of people heard Ellen come out of the closet on Ellen (AND THE EARTH STILL STOOD!), and she was one of the women in Dr. T and the Women.
Into the aughts, Dern played a charming and principled poet laureate on The West Wing for an episode, did three seasons on her own show, Enlightened, got an Oscar nomination for her work in Wild, and made a weird and wonderful one-off appearance on The Mindy Project.
Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm)
Goldblum moved from having disdain for dinosaurs and shirt buttons to beating back an alien invasion in Independence Day, with his mind. Following that blockbuster and another appearance as Doctor Malcolm in Lost World, Goldblum began to shed his outer layer, evolving into the sort of weird, sort of intoxicating creature that is fascinated and amazed with all things in a way that suggests that he is always experiencing hallucinogenics for the first time. We’ve recently seen that lovely being in episodes of Portlandia, Paypal commercials, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Soon, he’ll be in Independence Day 2.
Sir Richard Attenborough (John Hammond)
Besides reprising the role of John Hammond in The Lost World, the legendary Sir Richard Attenborough’s most notable post-Jurassic Park role came as Santa Claus in the Miracle on 34th Street remake, though he did take some on-screen work from time to time. He also continued to direct, releasing In Love and War, Grey Owl, and Closing the Ring in 2007. Attenborough passed away in 2014 at the age of 91.
Joseph Mazzello (Tim Murphy)
Mazzello has stayed busy following his kid-actor years and performances in Jurassic Park as John Hammond’s grandson, Radio Flyer, and the Richard Attenborough directed Shadowlands. Most notably, he appeared in all 10 episodes of The Pacific mini-series, played Billy St. Cyr on Justified, and had roles in The Social Network and G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
Ariana Richards (Lex Murphy)
You may choose to remember Richards as Lex, John Hammond’s grandaughter, in Jurassic Park, but I can’t fix where you’re broken and I remember her as the girl from Spaced Invaders. Also, she appeared in Tremors (and Tremors 3, a direct-to-DVD sequel.) Following the dinosaur movie-picture, Richards popped up in Angus and a few other projects before vacating the scene to become an artist. One who works with paints, not emotions.
Wong spent six years on Oz after leaving Jurassic Park and eventually earned what all Oz-alums get, a paycheck from Dick Wolf as an occasional cast member on a Law and Order series. He’ll next be seen in Jurassic World reprising his the role of scientist Henry Wu from the first film. Take that Goldblum.
Wayne Knight (Dennis Nedry)
After playing a devious techie in Jurassic Park, Knight continued to play Newman on Seinfeld until they were all like, “Stop. Go home. Show’s done.” From 1996 to 2000, he played a supporting role on 3rd Rock from the Sun. Several other one-off roles and voice performances have followed, but his most consistent role of late was as Haskell Lutz on TV Land’s The Exes.
Samuel L. Jackson (Ray Arnold)
Though Jackson’s performance as Ray Arnold and Ray Arnold’s arm in Jurassic Park was memorable, he didn’t really break out until the following year with Pulp Fiction. Since then, Jackson has starred in approximately 467 movies, ranging from Deep Blue Sea, A Time to Kill, Django Unchained, Jackie Brown, and all the Marvel films, in which he plays Nick Fury.