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Laura Dern Celebrates The Legacy Of Jurassic Park’s Ellie Sattler And The Mindblowing Fan Interaction That Made Her Feel A Greater Responsibility To The Role

Laura Dern standing at a dig site in Jurassic World: Dominion
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

In 1993’s Jurassic Park, Laura Dern’s Dr. Ellie Sattler was a vital inspiration to generations of future scientists. Beyond that amazing feat, she was also a strong female role model in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel, and that effect can still be felt to this day. As Dern’s character makes a huge return in Jurassic World Dominion, one of the latest 2022 movie releases, she recently celebrated the legacy of Dr. Sattler in pop culture, sharing a mindblowing fan interaction in the process.

Speaking with Laura Dern during the press day for the latest sequel in the Jurassic universe, we discussed how Ellie leads the charge for the legacy actors to get involved in Dominion. An extension of her take-charge attitude and resourcefulness in Jurassic Park, it’s a perfect bookend to a character who means so much to so many people. Asking her to recount what she thought was one of her best experiences with a fan of her trailblazing role, Dern told CinemaBlend this:  

A few weeks ago, a woman I really admire, who is the first female congresswoman in her district, and a really powerful voice for gun safety and choice in this country, said that seeing Ellie Sattler as a 13-year old made her believe that women could do anything, and be equal to the men. And it’s why she went into politics. That just blew my mind, made me very proud. And to hear young men say, ‘That was the first female character I saw that deservedly gained the same level of respect and incredible bravery and iconic status as the men of this story,’ it really shaped how [they] saw women in [their] life, that’s amazing stuff. When somebody asks you to come back as that character, you feel a responsibility, for sure.

From the moment Dr. Ellie Sattler was introduced in Jurassic Park alongside Sam Neill’s Dr. Alan Grant, you could tell she was the one in charge. Even in light of the age gap between these Jurassic personas, Neill’s comment that he always saw Dern as the more grown up part of the pair could be seen as she led him reluctantly down a mountain and back to work. 

Once the actual visit to Jurassic Park kicked in, Ellie proved herself a born leader in the park’s environment, jumping in to help a sick Triceratops during the tour that was supposed to drum up support for John Hammond’s dream attraction. Tangling with Velociraptors and protecting her fellow parkgoers, Ellie Sattler became an inspiration through quick thinking and indefinitely postponing discussions on “sexism in survival situations.”

Although Jeff Goldblum reprised Dr. Ian Malcolm in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and both Sam Neill and Laura Dern returned for Jurassic Park III, Dr. Sattler and her legacy cohorts were absent from the first Jurassic World movie. Eventually Goldblum’s character returned in the follow-up, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which seemed to be the door-opener for the gang to get back together. 

Sure enough, the announcement was eventually made that Laura Dern and Sam Neill would be along for the ride in Jurassic World Dominion after all. With adventures with animatronic dinosaurs and moments of Jeff Goldblum’s trademark improvs awaiting them all, all that needed to be nailed down was the most important component: a good reason to return.

Making such a decision doesn’t come easy, especially when co-writer/director Colin Trevorrow insisted on balancing screen time for both eras of Jurassic stars. Just as Trevorrow and co-writer Emily Carmichael wanted to give the Jurassic Park characters something significant, Laura Dern probably wouldn’t have come back unless the story felt worth telling. She said as much as she continued to talk about how much she appreciated being into the Jurassic World Dominion fold: 

It’s beautiful, because we’ve spent all these years with people coming up to us, talking about what these characters meant. What the first film, for cinema and in general, that experience meant for them. It’s unparalleled, so obviously we were all really protective about it being fun, and amazing, and appropriate for the characters they loved so deeply, and dressed up as, and everything else.

Seeing a character like Dr. Ellie Sattler on screen reminds us of how representation can inspire us to do anything. Jurassic Park’s lasting inspiration is felt in Ellie’s return for Jurassic World Dominion, as she’s still at the forefront of getting the job done. Only this time, the stakes couldn’t be higher, and she has friends old and new for backup. With luck, this will inspire even more audiences, alongside the existence of that original film, for another 65 million years. 

Jurassic World Dominion is currently showing in theaters, pitting humanity against the various beasts it resurrected. If you’re looking to stream the Jurassic Park movies, or the sequels in the Jurassic World trilogy, the entire collection is out there. The first three adventures of that classic franchise are available, at the time of this writing, to HBO Max subscribers

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.