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'Jurassic World': DeWanda Wise dishes on playing a dino-fighting action hero in 'Dominion'

Wise plays pilot Kayla, who faces off against extinct beasties alongside Chris Pratt's Owen Grady.

Jurassic World Dominion PRESS

Back in 2019, DeWanda Wise (She’s Gotta Have It) boarded the third Jurassic World movie — officially subtitled Dominion — in a major yet mysterious role. Until this week, we knew virtually nothing about her character, but thanks to the new issue of Empire (now on sale), fans can learn more about this newcomer: a pilot by the name of Kayla. "She's fresh out of the Air Force and her main thing is flying cargo: mostly dinosaur stuff, but it could be anything," the actress explained to the magazine.

With the planet now overrun with hungry lizards that were supposed to have gone extinct millions of years ago, Kayla has to be ever-vigilant for airborne threats like the Quetzalcoatlus, a dinosaur whose name she learned to properly pronounce while filming. However, Wise admitted that her "focus was more on the character, so I didn't think a lot about the dinosaurs. Between now and when the movie releases, I will probably refresh my eight-year-old memory."

Whether she's able to make a smooth landing or an emergency one (does ol' Quetzalcoatlus accidentally fly into one of the engines?), Kayla ultimately finds herself on the ground, joining Chris Pratt's Owen Grady in a tense standoff against a Pyroraptor atop a frozen lake.

"It was kind of wild, being thrust into that," Wise said of being an action hero novice. "You know, this is Baby's First Blockbuster I'd come home with my hamstrings really hard; there's nothing like sprinting for multiple takes across a very slippery terrain. But Pratt really knows his sh**. He knows all the intense technical things you have to hit, in addition to the perforation, to sell the terror. I was like, 'Teach me, master.'"

Dominion was one of the largest blockbuster productions to restart filming against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020. This bubbled experience not only inspired a new Judd Apatow comedy film (coming to Netflix April 1), it also allowed the Jurassic World cast members to bond with each other, even if some of them didn't share any scenes together. And that included a number of franchise veterans.

"I've sung around the piano with Jeff Goldblum. I have so many bottles of Two Paddocks wine [from Sam Neill's vineyard]," Wise said. "There are cast members I don't share screen time with at all, but who I had the opportunity to get to know. It was super-surreal."

Jurassic World: Dominion stomps onto the big screen Friday, June 10.

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