The Time Jurassic Park's Joseph Mazzello Really Did Get Injured By A Dinosaur On Set

Joseph Mazzello's Tim watching the herd approaching in Jurassic Park

Thanks to an asteroid and poor near-Earth object collision detection at the time, dinosaurs weren't around to show up in Jurassic Park. The film instead used practical effects and computer animation to bring the creatures to life, which is probably much safer than using actual dinosaurs anyways. But that's not without its own perils. Joseph Mazzello, who played Tim in the film, found this out the hard way when he was injured by a dinosaur on set, as he explained:

It was a raptor on wheels that was to follow me, and I'm supposed to go left, and it's supposed to go to the right. We did a bunch of takes. And one time I went left and I sort of turned around to look up and see the raptor turning the same way as me. And its claw, which was metal, hit me in the head because I was that height. And I fell down. I was a little bit dazed. It also was my birthday. I turned 9 years old. And so Steven (Spielberg) after checking that I was okay, said, 'I think this is the perfect time for this,' and had the entire crew sing happy birthday to me.

What Joseph Mazzello is describing is part of the memorable kitchen scene where one of the raptors chases Tim into the freezer, and he and Lex manage to lock it inside. This is just one of the many traumatic experiences Tim endures during the course of Jurassic Park, but it sounds like actor Joseph Mazzello suffered a real injury as well during this scene.

You can imagine how this could happen filming a scene like this, where he had to run and turn with a raptor on wheels close behind him. All it took was for him to look up and the raptor to go the wrong way. Boom, raptor claw to the head!

Thinking back to Jurassic Park, you might have thought that one of the parts where Tim is climbing, like the electric fence scene, would have had the greater potential for injury, but I guess this just shows that even artificial raptors are not to be trifled with.

Fortunately, the nine-year-old Joseph Mazzello had only suffered mild head trauma and was just a bit dazed from his run in with the metal claw. It sounds like it was quite the memorable experience too, considering, as Joseph Mazzello told Today that it happened on his birthday.

So in order to give the kid a break, Steven Spielberg made sure he was okay and had everyone sing him 'Happy Birthday.' That's got to be something, being that young, on a movie set with fake dinosaurs and having people sing to you. Sure, getting hit in the head couldn't have been fun, but spending your ninth birthday on the set of what would become an iconic film and having legendary director Steven Spielberg sing you 'Happy Birthday,' I'd say that's a net win.

With the new Jurassic World films, we often talk about the brief return of Jeff Goldblum's Ian Malcolm in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and our hopes to see original characters like Laura Dern's Ellie Sattler or Sam Neill's Alan Grant show up in Jurassic World 3. That would be awesome, but it would also be great to see Joseph Mazzello's Tim and/or Ariana Richards' Lex appear in the new trilogy.

Joseph Mazzello can next be seen as guitarist John Deacon in the Queen film Bohemian Rhapsody, in theaters on November 2. For all the biggest movies that will rock you in what's left of 2018, check out our release schedule.

Nick Evans

Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.