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The kids of 'Jurassic Park' and 'Jurassic World' — Where are they now?
With the Jurassic Park trilogy and Jurassic World streaming on Peacock, here's a look at what the child stars have been up to.
This June marks 30 years since the original Jurassic Park film roared onto screens in 1993, enrapturing audiences the world over. That means the inquisitive kids that appeared opposite the dinosaurs and Hollywood heavyweights like Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill and Richard Attenborough have long been adults themselves.
While Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards are not nearly as prehistoric as their CGI and animatronic former co-stars, they’ve already got a lot of living under their belts. And the pair are far from the only kids to light up scenes in a Jurassic movie.
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With four films in the franchise now streaming exclusively on Peacock — Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), Jurassic Park III (2001) and Jurassic World (2015) — SYFY WIRE is taking a look back at all the child stars in the films and where they are now.
We’ll skip the two most recent additions of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) and Jurassic World Dominion (2022) for now, because Isabella Sermon, who stars as Maisie Lockwood in those films, is still under 18 and hasn’t had much time to add to her resume yet.
As Mazzello, who played Tim Murphy in the first flick, put it, getting cast in a Jurassic movie can be life-changing.
“[Jurassic Park director] Steven [Spielberg] had me screen-test with Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman for Hook,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2013. “I was just too young for the role. And because of that, Steven came up to me and said, ‘Don’t worry about it, Joey. I’m going to get you in a movie this summer.’ Not only a nice promise to get, but to have it be one of the biggest box-office smashes of all time? That’s a pretty good trade.”
Jurassic Park (1993)
Joseph Mazzello as Tim Murphy
He may not even have hit double digits yet in age when Jurassic Park burst into theaters in June of 1993, but Mazzello was already a seasoned pro. He’d had a role in the 1990 legal thriller, Presumed Innocent, starring Harrison Ford, and he played opposite another child star, Elijah Wood, in 1992’s Radio Flyer.
But his role in Jurassic Park as dino-obsessed Tim — the grandson of Dr. John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), the creator of the titular dinosaur-based theme park — really pushed him into Brachiosaurus-sized fame. He scored several other roles as a kid actor, including in The River Wild, and even made a cameo appearance in the first Jurassic Park sequel,The Lost World.
Thanks to a little boost from Spielberg, he stepped away from acting for a bit to attend the University of Southern California. "Steven wrote me a recommendation for USC to go to film school," Mazzello told People. "Believe it or not, I got in. He’s been there for me throughout my life whenever I really needed him.”
Mazzello, now 39, continues to act as an adult, appearing in the HBO miniseries The Pacific; as one of the Facebook co-founders in The Social Network; and as the bass player for the band Queen in Bohemian Rhapsody.
Ariana Richards as Lex Murphy
Like the actor who played her younger brother Tim onscreen, Richards already had several film credits to her name by the time she was cast in Jurassic Park. Those included parts in the monster flick Tremors, as well as in Timescape, opposite Jeff Daniels.
Like Tim, Lex was the granddaughter of creator of the titular dino theme park in the film and she also came back for a cameo in The Lost World. Viewers will remember Lex for her computer hacking skills that got the theme park up and running again, and for her crush on paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill). Richards appeared in a few other movies after Jurassic Park — including Angus, Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, and Battledogs — but she's stayed out of show biz for the past decade, focusing on her work as a painter instead.
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"When clients find out I was in Jurassic, they get really excited,” Richards told People of her Oregon art studio in 2013. She added that working on the film inspired her to create her first water color painting. “I wanted to boil down the whole experience of Jurassic into my art," she said. "I painted an image of me from the Jell-O scene."
Though Richards wasn't in last summer's Jurassic World Dominion — which brought back some of her co-stars from the original, including Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum — she did hit the Los Angeles premiere's red carpet in support of it.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Vanessa Lee Chester as Kelly Curtis
Sure, Mazzello and Richards may have made cameos in The Lost World, but the sequel introduced a new kid into the mix: Vanessa Lee Chester. Chester played Kelly Curtis, the daughter of Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), who snuck onto a dino-infested island by hiding in a trailer so she could be with her dad.
Like her predecessors, Chester already had a pretty impressive resume before she came aboard The Lost World, with credits in kid flicks like A Little Princess and Harriet the Spy. She's continued acting as an adult, with roles in movies like 17 Again and appearances in shows including How I Met Your Mother, Welcome to Sandition, and Scorpion.
Goldblum reflected last year on the film and starring alongside Chester. "Vanessa Lee Chester, who plays my daughter, is fantastic," he told Variety in 2022. "She recently, in the last few years, showed up just unexpectedly at one of our jazz gigs and I was very happy to see her."
Jurassic Park III (2001)
Trevor Morgan as Eric Kirby
Yet another kid takes a starring role in the third film of the original Jurassic Park trilogy, Trevor Morgan. He plays Eric Kirby, a 12-year-old boy who goes missing, along with his mom's boyfriend, while parasailing near an off-limits island when their boat's attacked by an unknown being.
The kid's parents then trick a returning Dr. Grant into taking an aerial tour of the island, by pretending they want to fund his Velociraptor research, then later revealing they're searching for their son and the mom's boyfriend. Eric somehow survives his time on the dinosaur-infested fictional Central American island of Isla Sorna, and emerges to help fight the beasts.
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Morgan, the son of parents who had their own production and talent development company, started out in commercials before landing parts in big movies like The Sixth Sense, where he played a bully to Haley Joel Osment's character. He also portrayed one of Mel Gibson's sons in The Patriot. After Jurassic Park III, he continued to appear in dozens of films and TV shows as a kid and adult, from The Glass House and Mean Creek to ER and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He also writes and directs, though he's largely remained out of the spotlight in the last five years or so.
Jurassic World (2015)
Ty Simpkins as Gray Mitchell
Ty Simpkins is the youngest person on this list at just 21, and likely the actor on this list to have scored their first on-screen role at the youngest age. Simpkins shared the role of an infant on the soap opera One Life to Live starting when he was just three weeks old.
Before landing his role of Gray Mitchell in Jurassic World, he'd already appeared in impressive titles like Revolutionary Road, Insidious, Arcadia, Iron Man 3, and more. His character in the first film of the Jurassic World trilogy is younger brother to Zach, and both boys are the nephews of the operations manager at the titular dinosaur theme park.
In addition to appearing in multiple sequels in the Insidious franchise, Simpkins has also kept busy with blockbusters like Avengers: Endgame. Look for him currently in The Whale, starring Brendan Fraser, and catch him in Insidious: Fear the Dark this summer.
Nick Robinson as Zach Mitchell
Before landing his role as Gray's big brother in Jurassic World, Nick Robinson — who had also previously appeared in a couple of films (Frenemies and The Kings of Summer) — was probably best known for playing Ryder Scanlon, the nephew of Melissa Joan Hart's character on the show Melissa & Joey, from 2010 to 2015.
After his encounter with dinosaurs, Robinson went on to appear in Kong: Skull Island, The 5th Wave, and Everything, Everything. He's also done extensive theater work, including playing Jem in the Broadway production of To Kill a Mockingbird.
He scored an MTV Movie & TV Award in the Best Kiss category for 2018's Love, Simon, and won a Teen Choice Award for Breakout Movie Star for the same flick.
Catch Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park III, and Jurassic World all streaming on Peacock.