Jurassic Park Stars Laura Dern And Sam Neill Open Up About Hollywood Standards And That Huge Romantic Age Gap (Good Thing They Break Up By The Third Movie)

Laura Dern and Sam Neill in Jurassic Park
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Cinema has introduced audiences to a number of memorable pairs of the years, and Jurassic Park’s Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler are definitely one of them. The two scientists (and lovers) were a fun pair, who more than matched each other on an intellectual level. They also proved to be somewhat unexpected heroes during the dangerous events of 1993’s epic dinosaur movie. Of course, one thing viewers are more than likely aware of is the significant age gap between the actors who play them, Sam Neill and Laura Dern. And years later, the two are getting honest about that gap and Hollywood standards. (All things considered, it’s probably best that the two characters split by the third movie.) 

Age gaps between leading men and ladies have been discussed for some time now, though the conversation has only truly picked up momentum over the past decade or so. Interestingly, a number of viewers don’t even give it a second thought while they’re taking in a film or TV show. The same can be true for the stars themselves at times, believe it or not. While reflecting on Jurassic Park, Sam Neill explained that the 20-year gap between himself and Laura Dern didn’t really hit him until a write-up caught his eye:

I am 20 years older than Laura! Which at the time was a completely appropriate age difference for a leading man and lady! It never occurred to me until I opened a magazine and there was an article called ’Old geezers and gals.’

Well, if that’s not a wake-up call, then I don’t know what is. His co-star was far more gentle on that front, though. While the two spoke with The Sunday Times, Laura Dern reflected fondly on their faux relationship, though she can see why it could certainly be viewed as problematic in some light: 

Well, it felt completely appropriate to fall in love with Sam Neill. 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?’

Jurassic Park fans surely remember that when the two characters were first introduced in the original movie, they were mulling over whether they wanted to have kids. Ultimately, Grant seemed to warm up to the idea by the end of the movie but, by 2001’s third installment, the two broke up, with Ellie having married and had two kids of her own. While it may have been a heartbreaking development for franchise devotees, it probably makes sense – both on and off screen. Alan didn’t seem ready to settle down but, also, the age gap between the two stars themselves could’ve become more evident as time moved on, making things somewhat awkward.

All of that aside, it’s going to be great to see Laura Dern and Sam Neill’s characters return for Jurassic World: Dominion. Not much is known about their exact roles in the film, though Neill has teased their story, which involves them reuniting after not having seen each other for years. During the early days of filming, Dern also expressed excitement about getting to team up with Neill once more. Of course, they’ll also be joined by fellow franchise OG Jeff Goldblum, who’s spoken about the “unbelievable” experience of working with his old co-stars again. 

One can only hope that Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant’s reunion lives up to the hype. I’m not sure if moviegoers will be focusing so much on the age gap while watching, given everything else that’ll be happening in the jam-packed film. Still, conversations regarding these kinds of Hollywood standards are worth having in general.

Jurassic World: Dominion, one of 2022’s biggest upcoming movies, hits theaters on June 10. While you wait, catch up on the franchise by streaming the other Jurassic films.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.