Jurassic Park is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a 3D release tomorrow. Since my enthusiasm for dinosaurs has barely decreased since I was eight, I will probably be there on opening day. There's nothing pathetic about that, you guys. The effects hold up! Raptors are still the shit! IT'S A QUALITY MOVIE.
Anyway, Entertainment Weekly dropped an interesting oral history today that details what went down while making the first film. This is the 8,392nd oral history to hit the web in the last year, however if you're also a dino fan, there's a lot to like in here. And there's a lot you probably didn't know. Such as...
This was the first time a movie computer generated its main characters.
KATHLEEN KENNEDY (Producer) I remember getting the phone call where Dennis said, “I think I have something you and Steven should take a look at.” We saw this wire-frame model of a dinosaur running across the screen, and it caused five or six of us to literally leap to our feet because it was so extraordinary and significantly beyond anything we had seen in motion control up to that point.
STEVEN SPIELBERG (Director) The last time my jaw dropped like that was when George Lucas showed me the shot of the Imperial cruiser [in Star Wars]. I showed it to [stop-motion effects legend] Ray Harryhausen. He was absolutely enthralled and very positive about the paradigm changing. He looked at the test and said, “Well, that’s the future.”
Jim Carrey almost played Ian Malcolm.
JANET HIRSHENSON (Casting director) I read the book and I thought of Jeff Goldblum right away. There were several other people we taped for the part, though. Jim Carrey had come in and he was terrific, too, but I think pretty quickly we all loved the idea of Jeff.
The dinos that weren't CGI'd were incredibly life-like puppets.
SAM NEILL (Dr. Alan Grant) The thing was breathing — Stan Winston’s puppets were so incredible. To touch them was to blow your mind.
The puppets sometimes malfunctioned.
KENNEDY The T. rex went into the heebie-jeebies sometimes. Scared the crap out of us. We’d be, like, eating lunch, and all of a sudden a T. rex would come alive. At first we didn’t know what was happening, and then we realized it was the rain. You’d hear people start screaming.
Unlike actors today, no one was quite sure how to act against computer-generated objects.
NEILL Steven was holding a bullhorn and roaring in a not very convincing way. It’s difficult enough acting to a tennis ball, but it’s even harder when you’re trying not to laugh.
JOSEPH MAZELLO (Tim Murphy) What I got to look at was this wooden stick with a dinosaur head drawn at the top of it that I think I, as a 9 year old, could have drawn and a couple of guys moving it around and Steven screaming into a megaphone, “Okay, now he’s eating him, Joe. He’s eating him now. You’re looking at him. He’s eating him.” I was a little upset. I was like “Yo, when are we getting some dinosaurs. I keep hearing this movie’s about dinosaurs.”
A hurricane almost wiped out the set.
NEILL We were all huddled into the ballroom of this hotel, which was completely trashed in the course of the hurricane. What kept morale up was that the only thing to read in the whole ballroom, the only thing anyone thought to bring in with them, was a Victoria’s Secret catalog. So that, in our darkest moments, cheered us up.
Sam Neill almost had his arm burned off while holding a flare during one of the rainy scenes.
NEILL I’ve still got a big scar on my left hand that I’m looking at right now from the flare. It dropped some burning phosphorous on me and got under my watch and took a chunk of my arm out.
And the film was, obviously, a ridiculous success. (With George Lucas handling post-production, too.)
Jurassic Park wrapped 12 days ahead of schedule. Kennedy and George Lucas oversaw postproduction while Spielberg was in Europe shooting Schindler’s List. The film opened on Friday, June 11, 1993, and broke box office records its first weekend, with $47 million. It eventually went on to make more than $900 million worldwide.
DERN [People were like,] “Oh my gosh, you’re the girl who put your hand in the dinosaur poo!” That was my big entrée. I have met kids who were afraid to shake my hand, as though I hadn’t washed.