Laura Dern Questions Whether ‘Jurassic Park’ Age Gap Romance Was ‘Completely Appropriate’

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Laura Dern was 26 years old when “Jurassic Park” hit theaters in 1993, but she was only 23 when the movie began shooting. Her character, Dr. Ellie Sattler, falls in love with the much older scientist Dr. Alan Grant, played by Sam Neill. Neill was 43 years old during the shoot, but neither actor was particularly concerned about the 20 year age gap between their characters.

But nearly three decades later, as the two stars geared up to reprise their iconic roles in Colin Trevorrow’s “Jurassic World: Dominion,” they began to see that romance in a different light. The world has changed a lot since 1993, and what seemed normal at the time now seems strange to them. In a new interview with The Sunday Times, Dern and Neill reflected on their original onscreen romance and questioned whether it was the right choice.

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“I am 20 years older than Laura! Which at the time was a completely appropriate age difference for a leading man and lady,” Neill said, before recalling the moment he realized that it might not have been normal. “It 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.'”

Dern echoes the sentiment that being cast as Neill’s love interest felt completely normal at the time, and she did not question it until decades later.

“Well, it felt completely appropriate to fall in love with Sam Neill,” Dern said. “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?’”

Despite whatever misgivings they have about their original romantic storyline, Dern and Neill signed on to return for the latest sequel, which sees them reteam with the Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm. Many fans are eager to see the original leads returning, and the actors are quick to point out that they–not the dinosaurs–are the film’s real stars.

“These films have always been about people,” Neill said. “The dinosaurs are bigger than us, but they’re just bloody bit players, thank you.”

“Jurassic World: Dominion” will be released in theaters on Friday, June 10.

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