Laura Dern and Sam Neill starred in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster “Jurassic Park” as paleobotanist Ellie Sattler and paleontologist Alan Grant, respectively. The two characters fall in love during the film despite the 20-year age gap that existed between Dern and Neill during the making of the film. Dern was 23 years old when filming started and 26 when the movie opened in 1993. Neill, on the other hand, was 43 years old during the shoot. Neither actor was too concerned with their age gap and their characters’ romance.
“I am 20 years older than Laura!” Neill recently told The Sunday Times. “Which at the time was a completely appropriate age difference for a leading man and lady. [The age gap being inappropriate] never occurred to me until I opened a magazine and there was an article called ‘Old Geezers and Gals.’ People like Harrison Ford and Sean Connery acting with much younger people. And there I was, on the list. I thought, ‘Come on. It can’t be true.’”
“Well, it felt completely appropriate to fall in love with Sam Neill,” Dern added about the age gap. “And it was only now, when we returned in a moment of cultural awareness about the patriarchy, that I was, like, ‘Wow! We’re not the same age?’”
Dern was less focused on her age and more focused on ensuring her character pushed forward female representation on the big screen. Dern cites Ellie in the same category as Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley from the “Alien” franchise as movie characters that changed Hollywood’s view on female action heroes.
“It’s really moving,” Dern said. “A lot of women in tech and science point to a similarity between Ellie’s heroism and women in their field.”
Both Dern and Neill are reprising their “Jurassic Park” characters in the upcoming Universal tentpole “Jurassic World Dominion,” opening in U.S. theaters on June 10.