Joe Johnston’s Jurassic Park III got a bad rap at the time, which it probably deserved. The critical and commercial performance was noticeably lower than The Lost World never mind Steven Spielberg’s classic original, but very few Hollywood blockbusters in the last 30 years have come close to matching Jurassic Park in terms of awe-inspiring spectacle and sheer entertainment value.
The third installment in the series was a relatively by the numbers sequel, albeit one that features one of the most iconic moments in the entire franchise, which is of course during Alan Grant’s hallucinatory dream where a velociraptor on an airplane calls him out by name. Jurassic Park III will no doubt remain the lowest-grossing entry for a long time given that the last two earned at least $1.3 billion each a the box office, but it did at least give Sam Neill the chance to go for broke as an action hero.
In a recent interview, though, the actor admitted that he didn’t truly get to grips with the intrepid paleontologist until his second appearance, and downplayed his abilities to embody the rugged adventurer archetype in the process.
“For me, by the the time I got to number three, probably a bit late in the day, I’d sort of worked out how to play that character, which I hadn’t really quite gotten around to in the first one. I was still trying to work out, how do you play that guy in the hat? Something that comes completely naturally to someone like Harrison Ford. Not naturally to me.
And something that Chris Pratt, fantastic guy, has given a lot of thought to and really worked out how to do it. And you have to think how to do that. It’s a special skill. You’re not just playing a character. You need a whole skill-set. You need a whole armory to play an action hero and I wish I had known what those skills were when we did the first one, but there we are.”
Ironically, Harrison Ford was one of the many names to turn down the role when it was offered around, with Neill far from first in line. William Hurt, Richard Dreyfus and Kurt Russell also reportedly said no before it became the defining part of the New Zealander’s career. Of course, the 73 year-old will be back in next year’s Jurassic World: Dominion, and having finally got to grips with his character two decades ago in Jurassic Park III, it’ll be great for longtime fans to see the original gang reunited once again.