It’s fair to say that one of the best things about the Jurassic World franchise is Bryce Dallas Howard’s characterization of Claire Dearing. Sure, Chris Pratt is great and dinosaurs are even better, but if we get right down to it, Claire is the emotional anchor of the current Jurassic franchise.
While 2015’s Jurassic World didn’t initially place her in the most sympathetic (or the most supportive footwear) position, she grew as a character through her appreciation of dinosaurs, seeing them as living creatures and not just a product. This summer’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom pushed the character even further in that direction, not only making her an advocate for the rights of resurrected reptiles, but a capable action hero with no problem standing shoulder to shoulder with Pratt’s Owen Grady. But the character’s heroism wasn’t always a done deal.
Writer and director Colin Trevorrow recently shared details of the Jurassic World that could have been in an interview with the Bryce Dallas Howard Community’s new publication, BDH Network Magazine (via CinemaBlend). Early in Jurassic World’s development, before Trevorrow and writing partner Derek Connolly came in, the original script was written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver who had revived the Apes franchise with Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011).
In that script Owen was named Vance, and Claire was named Whitney and had a much smaller and more adversarial role that would have thrown a wrench in the heroic proceedings. Trevorrow reveals, “there was a character who had one or two scenes, the manager for the corporate side of the park. I think her name was Whitney. She was an antagonist to the hero, putting up red tape.”
Claire’s characterization received criticism in the final product, notably from Joss Whedon who criticized the trope of the fun-loving male hero and the stiff and frigid female counterpart. The Claire we meet in Jurassic World isn’t exactly endearing in the beginning, but she was far from a villain. The initial coldness of the character seems like a leftover from the original script, which seems to have taken a less compassionate and more militaristic approach with its characters as suggested by the film’s original opening.
Trevorrow details, “The film opened with Vance jumping out of a helicopter with a pack of raptors on a military raid of a drug dealer's compound in Colombia. It was a different approach.”
So what led from Whitney to Claire? Trevorrow saw the character’s potential for growth. He reveals, “to take a character who had lost her compass like that and bring her back to the wonder and respect for these creatures felt like a real journey.” While Jurassic World, both in terms of its in film narrative and real-world announcement of the film, faced jaded criticism, Trevorrow and Dallas Howard managed to resurrect our love of dinosaurs by giving us a perspective to empathize with. But Claire’s story isn’t over yet. Given the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Claire may have an even greater evolution ahead of her.
The yet untitled third installment of Jurassic World will be released on June 11th, 2021.