To The Rescue: A Conversation with Chris Pratt & Bryce Dallas Howard for the Home Entertainment Release
It’s been four years since theme park and luxury resort Jurassic World was destroyed by dinosaurs out of containment. Isla Nublar now sits abandoned by humans while the surviving dinosaurs fend for themselves in the jungles.
When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event. Owen is driven to find Blue, his lead raptor who’s still missing in the wild, and Claire has grown a respect for these creatures she now makes her mission. Arriving on the unstable island as lava begins raining down, their expedition uncovers a conspiracy that could return our entire planet to a perilous order not seen since prehistoric times.
With all of the wonder, adventure and thrills synonymous with one of the most popular and successful series in cinema history, this all-new motion-picture event sees the return of favourite characters and dinosaurs—along with new breeds more awe-inspiring and terrifying than ever before. Welcome to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Where were you when you saw the very first Jurassic Park film back in 1993?
Bryce Dallas Howard: We were almost the same age. Chris was 13 and I was 12 and we both saw it on the opening weekend 25 years ago. We were on opposite sides of the country. He got to see it twice and I only got to see it once.
Chris Pratt: At the time it blew my mind. I was swept up like the rest of the people in the world in this Jurassic frenzy but even at the time I knew who Steven Spielberg was. I knew that he was a filmmaker that I admired. I had loved ET and I had loved The Goonies and the things that he had helped to bring to the screen and directed and produced. I knew that he was part of Gremlins and so many films in the ’80s that I really loved. So when I saw that Jurassic trailer I knew I wanted to see that movie. And when I saw the dinosaur, I just had to see that movie and it caught me and I was hooked. It was a defining movie for me as a kid.
And where you when you heard how much the first Jurassic World movie made in the first weekend?
BDH: We were together out promoting the movie and then were texting each other. When it got to around US$500 million or something Chris was like, ‘One for each finger!’ It was exciting.
CP: Yes, it was exciting. After our press tour I was filming The Magnificent Seven and I took a break from that to promote Jurassic World and then I went to back to set. And every day I came on to set Denzel Washington was there and he would be like, ‘There he is, the One Hundred Million Dollar Man!’ And then he kept reminding me every day how much it was making. It was pretty surreal and cool.
How has Owen and Claire’s relationship in this film changed from the previous one?
BDH: In the first film you are really watching two people fall in love, and two unlikely individuals falling in love. Whereas, in this story, in the time that has passed between the two films, it’s been complicated and they have gone in different directions, philosophically, as individuals. There is still peak romantic tension. That’s still happening but they are not together anymore when you first meet them, and the events of this movie are what really brings them together again.
What is it that they like about each other?
BDH: Who knows? They have complementary strengths and complementary weaknesses.
CP: And I think they both are vying for control. That type of relationship really bonds you in the right circumstances. It requires a certain set of circumstances to create this bond between the two of them and we see that in the first film. And then when they are free from those circumstances they each deal with life differently. Owen doesn’t think you can fix the problem by leaning into it and trying to do good. He thinks the best thing that you can do for yourself is to live above your guilt and negate it and try to make yourself happy.
BDH: That’s definitely Owen’s psychology.
CP: That’s true. Claire’s more inclined to lean into it and to do what you can, to take responsibility for what you have done and to try to help in some way. We had the idea that this was our constant fight. Claire kept saying, ‘We need to do something about this,’ and Owen would say, ‘There’s nothing we can do about it. Just relax. We need to have fun and live our lives.’ Our characters disagreed about that. So she made it into the dinosaur protection group and I went off and started building a cabin, and it takes the circumstances of this film for us to get together and realise that we are good together.
If there were a referendum about leaving the dinosaurs on the island or getting them off with them being a potential threat for humans, what would you decide?
CP: Well, that’s a good question.
BDH: We should answer. We should not cop out here. I guess that’s the beauty of this film – that we start to get into territory where there’s no clear right or wrong answer. Dr. Ian Malcolm [Jeff Goldblum] has a very good argument for not saving the dinosaurs. Claire has a very good argument for protecting these dinosaurs as an endangered species at this point. That’s the sci-fi of it, saying ‘What are you going to do?
CP: I think what ends up happening is that it’s a big cost to move dinosaurs so it ends up being like a free market decision. Someone decides that they will do it but then you see the motivation is a type of greed that has consequences. We see that in life all the time.
Chris, could you break down a little bit that scene where Owen is escaping the lava because that is a good piece of physical comedy…
CP: That was a long couple of days, figuring out how to do that. I like the way it turned out but that was one of the things when I read the script and I read that scene, I squinted my eyes and I thought, ‘Shit, I am going to have to do that somehow.’ JA and I zeroed in on walking that line between what really might happen, and also trying to have a good fun, irreverent movie moment. Hopefully, it works but it was a lot of fun. What we see in the film is a chunk of it but what we shot went on much longer. In the edit they pared it down to just the basics. Hopefully, in the behind scenes footage you’ll see me bobbing around for a lot longer.
Do you guys still get a thrill when you see the big animatronic dinosaurs?
BDH: Absolutely. It is combination of robotics and puppetry and often for one dinosaur there would be ten, 12 individuals operating these puppets. So you’re experiencing a real performance. It looks real, it feels real. They don’t do anything between when they shoot the scene and when you guys see the scene. The scenes with animatronic dinosaurs, that’s what it looks like. That’s a whole other level of miracle. It’s incredible.
CP: The practicality of the performance and these artists working and rehearsing and creating moments of magic that do not exist in the script but you actually find in the rehearsal process, that’s really cool. The end result is a thrilling creature on the screen that looks real but the process is a lot more fun to do. And we got to bring our kids on set and they got to see it. And these teams were so gracious. We had my son Jack and Bryce’s daughter Beatrix on set. Blue, the raptor, is turning her head and blinking and reaching out. It’s like being at a quarter of a million dollar Chuck E Cheese or something. It’s really fun.
Does it kill the magic if you bring your kids along and show them how it’s done?
CP: Yes. It does a bit, to be honest with you. But I think that’s one of the very few things that’s on the list of burdens of being in our position; some of the magic is lost. We are never going to be able to sit down and watch a Jurassic Park movie in the way an audience member will. We are glad to be part of it but our kids are on the other side of it as well. They are never going to just sit down and watch our movie like their friends.
BDH: Sometimes being on this side as a kid is more magical. I grew up on movie sets as a kid, getting to see all of it. For me it was the magic of the movies, getting to see how these stories are brought to life. It is miraculous and for me it was really fun having a parent who is in the industry and who really shared with me every single day what he did, and what it took to do what he did. I think that I am obviously still chasing that dream. It is an incredible experience.
CP: It trades the magic for the prestige. It is like if David Copperfield was your dad and you knew how he did his tricks. You are gaining something much better than a two-hour show. You are gaining an education of being a magician.
Was it dangerous to shoot that underwater scene?
CP: I think it was pretty dangerous.
BDH: It was really dangerous. There is a lot of training goes into it and there are a lot of legal implications around the training. We have to go through full physicals and make sure that we are capable of doing quite a bit.
CP: We are scuba trained. It’s made to be as safe as possible so that you never feel that you are in trouble. There are people next to you who are ready to give air and there are teams of medical people all around. We never felt like that we were going to get hurt. But you are holding your breath for a long time. And you are trapped underwater.
Do you reckon you could build a cabin, like Owen does, Chris?
CP: Uh, no!
BDH: He so could. This is what’s crazy about Chris. He is a hero. It’s really crazy. You may not be great at everything, Chris but this stuff, making movies, you’re so down with that. The water sequence in particular deserves mention. It was was shot as a oner and this sequence was very important to JA Bayona; obviously, the water is territory that he is extremely familiar with because of The Impossible. Therefore, he is all the more ambitious with a water sequence. And because it was a oner we needed to be very, very precise. And the cameras were inside the gyrosphere. Chris was on the outside and he had to do the longest breath hold like seven times over or something. He held his breath so long it was nuts. And he had to hit a mark! He had to dive down and hit a mark on this gyrosphere and then act. He literally couldn’t see anything because he did not have goggles on and this is like 20 feet below water and yet he did it every single time. He is superhuman.
CP: That year I spent living on the beach in Hawaii paid off professionally! I spent a lot of time snorkelling. Who knew I was training for a career! And, of course, we shot the first film in Hawaii. That sweet island has been a major theme in my life in so many ways. I was living there when I was discovered and now I’ve gone back for Jurassic to shoot a couple of times. I have a real kinship with the island. It is just so great to be there for this film.
You are playing a Viking next? How Viking are you?
CP: I am about 50 per cent Viking thanks to my mum’s Norwegian blood. My dad was a builder and he was pretty rugged. I am the kind of guy that if I lived a different life, maybe I would have done physical stuff but I have been acting for 18 years so I have those kind of soft hands of a man who has never picked up a tool to do anything. Anyway, the film is at Universal. We are slated to start filming in September and it’s called Cowboy Ninja Viking and is based on a graphic novel. It’s sort of a wild, edgy, irreverent comic-book film. It is like a combination of A Beautiful Mind and Deadpool. It is about a man with multiple personalities who is an assassin and from his point of view he has a cowboy, a ninja and a Viking with him at all times. But from other people’s point of view it is just him. He has the skills of all three and the personalities of all three conflicting, so it’s high paced, with a lot of laughter, a lot of fun and a lot of blood and violence. It should be pretty cool.
How much do they tell you about the story for the third Jurassic World?
BDH: They are cool. As an actor, on every single job you are just there to be of service to the filmmakers and that team, ultimately. We are like independent contractors who are brought in to provide a service. But, sometimes, you are lucky and sometimes you get brought in and you are hired to perform a service and they draw you into the inner circle and you get to be privy to their process. And sometimes you get to collaborate with them in that process. While we were making the first movie, Colin Trevorrow was an incredibly collaborative individual, and so we were always fantasising about what a second movie could be and what a third movie could be. And Colin definitely had a very clear vision from the start with Steven Spielberg that they had worked out. Then, with this one, naturally, it was the same exact thing, talking about what might be possible. That is part of the fun. We do have a definite sense of the direction it’s going in.
Why do you think that people have such an interest in dinosaurs?
BDH: They are real. It is like they were these mythological creatures that were real. As human beings our life span is limited and while the novelty of dinosaurs may wear off with someone who was really into them as a kid, they become fresh again the minute there is a new generation of young people. Part of the fun of the Jurassic saga is that it is really truly bringing them to life and showing us that dinosaurs were real. Human beings were real. And it asks what happens if we were living at the same time? That’s the whole fun of it and I don’t think that question ever stops being interesting because there are so many different permutations of what could happen. And people can be eaten is so many different ways!
This movie is almost like two movies in one. The first half is a disaster movie and the second is like a family horror. Did it feel that way when you were shooting it?
CP: It felt a little bit like that. It felt partitioned in a way because the majority of our stage work takes place in the second act. We shot that in London on this magnificent stage at Pinewood and the first half is on the island before the island is blown up, so it really does feel that there are three distinct set piece locations – one being the island and then the mode of transport to the next location and then the third location itself. It felt a little bit like there were three distinct acts and it does feel very much a second chapter in a trilogy, opening up the world for what comes next.
JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM is now available on digital download and released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 5 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment