Laura Dern: At the Time, Age Gap in Jurassic Park Felt OK

But she and Sam Neill say the 20-year difference felt odd in retrospect
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2022 11:23 AM CDT
Jurassic Park Duo: Our Age Gap Is a Little Weird
This image shows, from left, Laura Dern, Joseph Mazzello, and Sam Neill in a scene from the 1993 film "Jurassic Park."   (Universal Pictures via AP)

Everyone who watched Jurassic Park in the '90s knows that scientists Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant fall for each other. Decades later, the actors who portrayed those characters—Laura Dern and Sam Neill—tell the UK Times that their 20-year age gap in real life felt fine at the time, but not so much in retrospect. Dern was 23 and Neill 43 when they made the movie, notes Variety.

  • Dern: "Well, it felt completely appropriate to fall in love with Sam Neill," says Dern, now 55. "And it was only now, when we returned in a moment of cultural awareness about the patriarchy, that I was, like, 'Wow! We're not the same age?'"
  • Neill: "I am 20 years older than Laura!" says Neill, 74. "Which at the time was a completely appropriate age difference for a leading man and lady. [The age gap being inappropriate] never occurred to me until I opened a magazine and there was an article called 'Old Geezers and Gals.' People like Harrison Ford and Sean Connery acting with much younger people. And there I was, on the list. I thought, 'Come on. It can't be true.'" He does say, however, that he was initially "baffled" he was cast alongside Dern.
Dern adds that she's proud of playing a strong female scientist in the film, likening it to how Sigourney Weaver did so in Alien. "It's really moving," she says. "A lot of women in tech and science point to a similarity between Ellie's heroism and women in their field." The two actors are making the media rounds in advance of the release of Jurassic World Dominion, a sequel in which they reprise their roles, per People. (More Jurassic Park stories.)

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