Laura Dern Wore No Makeup In ‘Jurassic World’ To Prove The ‘Sexy-Scientist Trope’ Wrong

"Her activism and feminism as a scientist was really important to me."

It has been almost three decades since Laura Dern took to our screen as Dr. Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park, and now, we’re lucky enough to witness her back in action for the dinosaur-enthusiastic addition to the franchise, Jurassic World: Dominion.

In the original film, Dern‘s character helped the group survive the prehistoric reptiles thanks to her knowledge as a paleobotanist. But while her role in the film saw her inspire thousands of young girls and boys to work in a male-dominated industry, Dern wishes that her character could have done more to diminish the sexist tropes around Dr. Sattler.

So, for the latest film, an overhaul of eliminating sexist ideas and encouraging diversity was front of mind.

In an interview with Vanity Fair,  DeWanda Wise joins the ensemble cast as Kayla Watts, a former military pilot who is openly bisexual. For Wise, she’s always believed that the Jurassic franchise portrayed women in a strong light, especially Dern. 

“Throughout all of the Jurassic movies, women are portrayed as intelligent and empowering, and my character is also one of those women,” she told the publication. “I mean, Laura Dern was doing it before anyone knew what female empowerment was.”

“She was constructing this character from the strength and the core of her integrity, and I think this franchise does a good job of doing that. It’s not about an agenda, and it’s not about a takeover—it’s about the implicit power of women.”

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Laura Dern in ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’

And while Wise has always hoped that Dern would reprise her role as Dr. Sattler, she wasn’t so sure for quite a while, even admitting that she “never imagined returning” to the franchise.

However, if her character were to return, Dern told the publication that she wanted to make sure she was an “evolved scientist” and “true to who she was, which is being fearless yet vulnerable”.

“Her activism and feminism as a scientist was really important to me. I spoke with Steven and Colin, and we all wanted her to return with a new sense of self and advanced in her life and her work,” the 55-year-old actor explained.

“She’s not some sexy-scientist trope. I didn’t wear makeup in this movie. She’s real. She’s divorced but loving life independent. She’s raised kids. And she’s at the height of her career, and she’s using it as service to the world. She’s really a modern, feminist female action hero, and that’s a beautiful message.”

For Jurassic Park: Dominion, Dern returns to the screen alongside her former cast mates from Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum. The original trio join the franchise’s stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard for what could be the last chapter in the film series.

Recently, both Dern and Neill openly discussed the controversy around their characters’ romantic plot from the first film, specifically the age gap between the two.

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Laura Dern and Sam Neill in 1993’s ‘Jurassic Park’

Sitting down for an interview with The Sunday Times, the pair reflected on how their 21-year age gap felt appropriate at the time.

In the 1993 film, Neill played the part of Alan Grant, a paleontologist, and Dern starred as Dr. Sattler, both of whom were invited to the dinosaur-riddled theme park to secure a safety certification. And later, sparked inklings of romantic attraction to each other.

“I am 20 years older than Laura,” Neill revealed in the interview. “Which at the time was a completely appropriate age difference for a leading man and lady.”

He continued, “It 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’.”

As for Dern, she agreed that their age difference didn’t feel so inappropriate at the time of filming.

“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?’,” Dern explained.

“Laura was a tender age. I’m guessing… 23? And she was already an exciting actor—she had done David Lynch films. It was no surprise she was asked [to do the film],” Neill added. “But I was completely baffled to be called by Steven. I didn’t get it.”

Ready to dust off some dinosaur bones? Fans of the franchise can catch Jurassic World: Dominion on June 9, 2022, in Australian cinemas.

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