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There is no denying that 1993's Jurassic Park is a near-perfect movie. If you really wanted to start picking apart the scant flaws of the Steven Spielberg classic, you may be inclined to mention Sam Neill's line delivery as Alan Grant. While the renowned paleontologist is meant to be American, the actor's native New Zealand accent can't help but slip through the cracks at certain points during the film.
Recently speaking with Vanity Fair, Neill recalled how he put in the effort to develop a genuine American accent ahead of principal photography. All of that prep ended up being chucked out the window at the behest of Mr. Spielberg, who wanted to find a middle ground between the U.S. and Kiwi inflections. Per Neill's recollection, the turning point came while filming the scene in which young Tim Murphy (Joseph Mazzello) gets shocked by the newly-restored electric fence.
"[Steven] came up to me halfway through the day and he said, ‘Hey, Sam, you know the accent we were talking about?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’ve been working on it for four weeks.…’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about it, just use your own voice.’ I said, ‘That’s great, Steven, thank you so much.’ And then four days later, he came up to me and said, “You know that voice you’re using now?’ I said, ‘Yeah, my voice?’ He said, ‘Somewhere in between.’ It’s an actor’s nightmare! So that’s why I get a lot of flak to this day: Sam Neill’s American accent in Jurassic Park was a load of T. rex poo."
After two decades, Neill is reprising the role of Alan Grant for Jurassic World Dominion, which also features the return of Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum as Ellie Sattler and Ian Malcolm, respectively.
Together, the original trio will investigate the shady dino-dealings of BioSyn, the unscrupulous InGen competitor whose attempts at corporate espionage led to the failure of Jurassic Park all those years ago. The prospect of reuniting these characters for the first time in almost 30 years caused a bit of initial anxiety for director and co-writer, Colin Trevorrow.
“I think there was a bit of tenuousness at first, with me wondering, ‘Is their dynamic going to echo the dynamic of the characters in the movie? Do Jeff and Sam actually have a problem with each other?’" the filmmaker admitted to VF. "None of those things ended up being true. They have a completely unique dynamic that is all their own. I just had to learn it over time.”
Taking part in a virtual press junket for Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous back in 2020, Trevorrow told SYFY WIRE that audiences were grossly "underestimating" the roles Neill, Dern, and Goldblum would play in Dominion. "It is very much an ensemble and that element, the ability to take these beloved characters from almost 30 years now and understand how they interact with each other in the context of a world that we’ve really never seen before and have not been able to witness until now," he teased.
Jurassic World Dominion stomps into theaters Friday, June 10.