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Jurassic Park turns 30: How That Dino Death Led to Wayne Knight Showing Up Purple to the Seinfeld Set

Who knew dino spit was so hard to wash off?

By Benjamin Bullard
Wayne Knight in Jurassic Park (1993)

Jerry never exactly needed new reasons on NBC’s Seinfeld to loathe his apartment building arch-nemesis Newman (Wayne Knight). But if he did, having the nosy U.S. Postal Service neighbor knock at his 1990s sitcom door with an icky purple face — explained, no less, by some wild tale about dinosaur spit — would probably be a contender.

Fans of the original 1993 Jurassic Park remember Knight for his role as the movie's sleazy, snack-happy computer programmer Dennis Nedry. Meme-ably famous for his “We’ve got Dodgson here!” scene and his “Stick, stupid!” dinosaur taunt later in the film (bad idea), Nedry’s the guy who hatches a DNA-stealing corporate espionage scheme to earn off-the-books moolah at the expense of his actual employer, Dr. John Hammond (the late Richard Attenborough).

RELATED: Jurassic Park at 30: Jim Carrey Auditioned for Ian Malcolm

It’s hard to believe 30 years have passed since Jurassic Park redefined the blockbuster experience, but this month marks three decades since Steven Spielberg’s special effects sci-fi juggernaut first stomped across fresh moviegoing territory in theaters. As fun behind-the-scenes reminiscences go, Knight’s inability to scrub away his real-life Jurassic Park stains in time to arrive unblemished for his other acting gig (yep, we mean Seinfeld) has to be one of the wackiest to emerge from the set of Universal Pictures' now-classic sci-fi spectacle.

After Nedry does all the damage he can in Jurassic Park, the backstabbing jerk tries to flee the scene in the midst of a vicious nighttime thunderstorm. Of course nature can’t let his Dennis’ ill dino DNA deeds go unpunished, so it all goes spectacularly wrong: Nedry eventually ends up as dino food, spat upon with a nasty purple goo and shredded by the very Dilophosaurus he so condescendingly thought he could wave away with a stick.

In a way, we can’t blame Nedry for at least thinking on the fly: It’s dark, it’s stormy, he’s in a park filled with ravenous, out-of-time reptiles, and he’s trying to vamoose after causing a chain reaction that all but assures Hammond’s prehistoric wonderland is destined for disaster. To make matters worse, he can’t even see: The poor petty criminal’s even lost his glasses in the sludge.

Jurassic Park Turned Knight Purple, Even After He Returned to Seinfeld

As Knight reflected to ABC News on the movie’s 25th anniversary, that oh-so-memorable scene ended up causing some minor complications when he showed up later to the Seinfeld set with a persistent bit of purple face staining, along with the caveat that Newman might not look quite his usual self.

“One night, I went back to shoot a Seinfeld [episode] and I came back while we were shooting Jurassic [Park], and I said, ‘You know when you did the thing with the spitter?’ They go, ‘Yeah.’ [I said] ‘It kind of dyed my face purple.’ He [dinosaur creator] goes, ‘Yeah, it'll do that,’” Knight recalled. “So there was a make-up problem going back to TV, we had to like cover the spot ...and they basically said, ‘Don't blink, because we'll do it again.’”

Hey, Seinfeld might’ve been the perfect show to just let Knight stay purple and explain it away with an offbeat in-episode backstory. The landmark sitcom was midway through its sprawling 9-season run while Knight was juggling between Jurassic Park and his Newman gig, right around the same time that Seinfeld was starting to veer into funny meta-territory (with its reality-bending Season 4 storyline about a stand-up comic who pitches a boneheaded sitcom to NBC).

If Newman had burst into Jerry’s pad sporting a splotchy face and some unlikely boast that it had happened on a dinosaur movie set, well …it might’ve felt pretty par for the Seinfeld course. And on a show that had a slew of bonkers real-life episode appearances, from Marissa Tomei to Candance Bergen to Bette Midler and more, it definitely wouldn’t have been the strangest of Seinfeld’s many Hollywood references.

Catch Knight’s dino disappearing act on Peacock this month, where the original Jurassic Park — this month celebrating its 30th anniversary — is streaming around the clock.

Ready for even more rambunctious reptiles? The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park III, and Jurassic World all are also streaming now at Peacock.