Sam Niell on Dr. Allen Grant and “Jurassic Park 3”

Sam Neill, who reprises the role of Alan Grant in the upcoming sequel Jurassic Park III, told SCI FI Wire that he believes the third installment in the dinosaur franchise will surpass the last one, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which he passed up. “Ironically, the faster and more action there is in the film, the slower they are to make” Neill said in an interview from is home in New Zealand. “In order to keep morale up, [the producers] would show us cut footage–which was breathtaking.”

Neill–a genre favorite in films like the first Jurassic Park and Bicentennial Man–said the new dinosaurs are better than before. “The animatronic creatures that we were working with were
extraordinary–not just realistic, but the things you can do with them was incredible,” he said. “If a 44-foot high creature … is looming over you bigtime, it’s not difficult to feel fear, if that’s what’s required in the script. … There was a remarkable day when one dinosaur mortally wounded another dinosaur. That was more terrifying than you could imagine.”

Like his co-star, Téa Leoni, Neill is a good sport about playing opposite the dinosaurs. And he doesn’t feel that the dinosaurs and effects take over the film, just as he disagrees with similar criticisms that swirled around the first film some eight years back.

“That was certainly one of the criticisms in the first film,” he said. “I think that’s a pretty good [movie]. I
would take issue with this–there was a couple of criticisms in the New York Times vs. the New Yorker, that said it was the first time in cinema history where the special effects were more real than the actors. But that was rather cruel and unnecessary.”

When asked about his favorite scene, Neill immediately pointed to a brief reunion between himself and fellow Jurassic Park cast member Laura Dern. “I have some scenes with Laura Dern, who I hadn’t worked with for … years” he said. “It was very nice being back with her again”

Jurassic Park III opens July 20.

Tea Leoni Talks “Jurassic Park 3” with Horror Online

It takes a lot to faze Tea Leoni. A few years back, the actress played second fiddle to an asteroid. Now, in Jurassic Park 3, Leoni is sharing the screen with co-stars who are a bit more fearsome and lifelike—and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love having enormous co-stars,” she enthuses. “I was once a co-star to a comet, and actually that film did very well, and then of course I couldn’t lay claim to that either,” jokes the actress about her involvement in 1997’s Deep Impact.

Leoni agreed to do Jurassic without seeing a script first, instead basing her decision to join the cast on director Joe Johnston’s enthusiasm—and her own enthusiasm for working with Johnston and stars Sam O’Neill and William Macy.

“Joe just said, ‘Listen, you’re a mom who’s lost her 12 year old son, on an island with dinosaurs. What do you think?’

And I thought, ‘cool,’” she remembers.

Contrary to expectations, Leoni found Jurassic was blissfully free of green screen work. Instead, the dinosaurs themselves provided enough jolts of reality. “For the most part, we were face to face with some of the most terrifying puppets,” reveals Leoni. “I mean, these guys make Chucky look like child’s play. And that made the acting easy, because when you have a – whatever it is – 6 ton, 1700 horsepower, 30-foot high creature coming at you along a track at 18 MPH, you find the fear. You find the fear quite easily, actually.”

Working with the dinosaurs was a revealing experience for Leoni. “They weren’t like fun machines, but the did have personality,” she says. “These puppets are so [real]; it’s odd to even say lifelike because there’s no reference, really. No one has ever seen a moving dinosaur, but I would credit Stan Winston and his team with vivid and real imagination because you can look into each creature, even in the same species, [and see] a different personality. It wasn’t like this one’s green, or this one’s taller or this one has horns–there were different shapes to the faces, and some seem to have more smiles.”

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