Director Colin Trevorrow On Why ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ Isn’t Just Dinosaurs Fighting In The Streets Of New York

Make no bones about it, Jurassic World: Dominion director Colin Trevorrow has been on an epic journey of his own with the multibillion-dollar trilogy.

“I don’t know if it was because I was younger, but I had a tremendous confidence on the first film,” the filmmaker and co-writer confessed to me. “When I stepped on set, I knew exactly what I wanted to do in every moment. As time goes on, and you make more movies, I actually think some of that confidence gets worn away, and you start to rely on your collaborators even more.”

Jurassic World: Dominion is every inch a collaboration. Legacy stars Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Jeff Goldblum are standing shoulder to shoulder with Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, and new faces are introduced to tie the entire series up. It’s the end of eras.

With Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom having already grossed $1.67 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively, Dominion is set to be one of the year’s biggest box office monsters. I caught up with Trevorrow to talk about reaching the end of the road, how he stopped information leaking out, and the ten minutes that didn’t make the final cut.

Simon Thompson: Before we talk about the movie, I wanted to ask you about something that happened when the final trailer dropped. Did you watch the reaction online to that? Many people were going crazy over what’s been now being called ‘the scooter guy.’ He’s a guy on a scooter who gets eaten. What did you make of that?

Colin Trevorrow: I take great pride in the dinosaur deaths in our movie. I consider them an art. I’m only half kidding about that. That moment actually came out of a request from Chris Pratt. He had called me and said that for charity, he had promised that the winner of a contest would be able to be eaten by dinosaurs in Jurassic World: Dominion, and they raised a tremendous amount. Of course, I said yes, but I had no idea how we would do it. Ultimately, that death is the result.

Thompson: I’d call that money well spent. Dominion is the third and final Jurassic film for you. Was it more or less challenging or terrifying to take on and carry out than the other films?

Trevorrow: I would say more. I don’t know if it was because I was younger, but I had a tremendous confidence on the first film. When I stepped on set, I knew exactly what I wanted to do in every moment. As time goes on and you make more movies, I actually think some of that confidence gets worn away, and you start to rely on your collaborators even more. I always have, but in this case, I really wanted to kick the tires on this story and listen to a lot of people around me because it had to appeal to so many people all around the world, and I understood how it was being perceived from a lot of different perspectives.

Thompson: So the audience reactions to the first two Jurassic World movies in this series impacted what we saw in this third and final film then? People often wonder whether it’s this arc that was predestined or if the plan changes.

Trevorrow: Absolutely, yeah. First of all, I had to understand that this is what people wanted because I would never assume that fundamentally changing the genetic makeup of a franchise is what fans want. In this case, we have five movies that essentially were incidents on various islands, and now we have a totally different kind of film. It’s structured differently and takes place all over the world. For us to make that leap, I needed to have the confidence that people who love Jurassic Park, or at least enough of those films, would go with us. I know some people will always hate our movies, and I completely understand where you’re coming from if you are one of those people (laughs). Jurassic Park is one of the greatest films of all time.

Thompson: Is that hard to take, or does it make it easier that you know whatever you are going to do, you will never please them?

Trevorrow: I just understand that Jurassic Park is a perfect film and the idea that a sequel to a perfect movie would ever be made? It’s a very natural reaction to be like, ‘No. I don’t like that at all.’

Thompson: A filmmaker has a vision. They know exactly what they want a movie to be like. Did you also know what you absolutely did not want Jurassic World: Dominion to be?

Trevorrow: I didn’t want it to turn into a fantasy film. I wanted to honor Michael Crichton’s work and be based in scientific plausibility. This is Ellie Sattler’s story. She’s a Paleobotanist, and this is fundamentally about how wielding genetic power without humility or respect can create chaos worldwide. I think that it would be presumed that with the dinosaurs unleashed, we’re going to see a movie with T-Rex and other dinosaurs battling in the streets of New York or Velociraptors running through Walmart. I wanted to find a way to tell a story that’s a little bit more closely linked to how animals have integrated with humans in the world that we know.

Thompson: You rightly say this is Ellie’s story. Did you have a Plan B if Laura Dern and Sam Neill said, ‘Actually, we don’t want to do this?’ Was there a different movie somewhere?

Trevorrow: You could argue that two parallel stories are running through this movie. We always could have made Jurassic World 3 with Owen and Claire as parents looking to rescue their daughter, and that’s a strong storyline that I know could have carried the movie, but our ambitions were, to be honest, much greater. We felt we had a responsibility to fans, both of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, to honor these legacy characters by not just putting them in the film but sending them on a real adventure. We wanted to make sure that they were crucial to the story. The fact that they were willing to join us on that journey and contribute as much as they did was an honor and a privilege, honestly.

Thompson: Bryce has said in interviews that she made notes on the first two Jurassic World movies that she thought might be helpful for the third one. Was there anything that Bryce put on the table that you guys hadn’t thought of that made it into the final film? Is there anything that springs to mind?

Trevorrow: Nothing springs to mind, but that’s because it happens all the time. It’s a constant conversation, and it’s part of our process. The same thing happened with Laura, Sam, and Jeff. We would just sit and talk about where the actors feel these characters would go. I feel that actors are the authority on their characters. I know not all directors necessarily work that way, but when you have someone who has been, in this case, Ellie Sattler and or Alan Grant for 28 years, I want to follow their instincts as much as I want to follow my own. It was the same with Bryce as Claire. Bryce and I, over eight years, have taken this character who started off in a very different place and evolved her into a character we’re both deeply proud of, and we did that together.

Thompson: Was there anything you couldn’t do with the first two movies that you were finally able to do with Jurassic World: Dominion?

Trevorrow: Certainly having the number of animatronics that we did. They’re expensive, and it’s really challenging to create and operate them. We had so many in this film. That allowed all of the actors to interact directly with these beautiful creatures. To me, that was part of a dream come true, just as much as working with Laura, Sam, and Jeff and everything else we got to do.

Thompson: Visual and verbal Easter eggs are littered throughout this. There are nods and winks to the original trilogy and the previous two movies in this series. Did you use many original props, or did you have to remake and recast them to make new ones?

Trevorrow: We did have to recast and make new ones, but it’s funny that you mention it. Many people mention all of these Easter eggs that I didn’t intentionally put in the movie; they just naturally happened. Emily Carmichael, my co-writer, and I had a sort of no Easter egg policy because we weren’t here to create more homages to Jurassic Park. We were here to tell a new story. There are so many jobs on a film that everybody has an opportunity to put their little nod in the movie that they love. That’s especially the case when it comes to production design and decoration. We also have it so intrinsically woven into us that it’s just going to happen naturally. The only one that, beyond the one I know you’re hinting at, that I remember consciously putting in was the moment between DeWanda Wise and Jeff Goldblum.

Thompson: I’d like to talk about the secrecy around the shoot. It’s incredibly difficult to keep these things quiet, and you had a pandemic slap bang in the middle of this as well, so how did you stop leaks? What measures did you take to prevent that from happening?

Trevorrow: (laughs) I’m going to give you a surprising answer. I was just kind of over secrecy, and I needed to communicate to everybody we were working with precisely what was happening in every moment of this movie, so everyone was able to read the script. I also recognize that a lot of the things that we would try to keep secret, people will know from the trailers by the time the movie comes out anyway. I just wanted to make sure that our process was able to be as collaborative as I needed to be, and hopefully, it wasn’t going to leak out. In the end, it really didn’t.

Thompson: I imagine you shot a huge amount of stuff for this movie. Is there anything that didn’t make the cut that you will put out there in some form in the future?

Trevorrow: There are about an extra 15 minutes in the longer version of this film, and about five of them we released already as the prologue that we put out in November. That’s the first five minutes of the movie. As we negotiated with the studio, and even amongst ourselves, with a reasonable running time for a family summer movie, we landed where we landed. It’s still a substantial length. I’m very grateful that Universal was willing to release the content the way we did. We just put it on the internet for free. I know how many people watched it, especially how many kids have poured over it repeatedly, and I’m confident that Universal will support the rest of this material being seen someday. It’s part of the process of being a filmmaker; you’ve got to cut off your arm sometimes.

Thompson: There was a Jurassic World theme park ride at Universal Studios Hollywood that became a reality while you were on this journey. Have you filmed anything else for that attraction that we can expect to see?

Trevorrow: The last update we did was I did the work on the animation with ILM for the Mosasaurus section. The latest update we did was actually practical. We put a full-body Indominus Rex at the end where there was once just a head. We also added the Gyrosphere. One day, I was riding the ride and was like, ‘Maybe we should have a Gyrosphere in here too,’ and they just did it. We also have a pretty awesome rollercoaster at Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios in Orlando that I have not been able to ride yet because of the pandemic, but I hear it is absolutely insane. At Universal Studios in Beijing, they have a full Jurassic World. They rebuilt the entirety of Main Street from that first movie. Obviously, that’s a dream come true to see all of that realized in real life.

Thompson: This has been a journey for audiences, the cast, and you. How do you document the journey? We see behind-the-scenes stuff, but did you keep your own video diary?

Trevorrow: I’m sure you have the same phone I do, and you scroll through your life over the last ten years, and you can do it in just a couple of minutes. You look at all those little squares. When I do that, it goes through three movies, and it’s just so colorful and vibrant and full of really warm memories with people I care about. Watching the movies feels the same way. I don’t have many mementos from this; I usually keep one little thing. We try not to have our house feel like a museum of dinosaur director collections, and I have my kids who have a lot of memories, too. Hopefully, what’s in all of our collective memories will be enough.

Thompson: Now you’re done with the Jurassic period, do you fancy taking on another reboot series?

Trevorrow: There’s always that other option where you do something new. I know we don’t do a lot of that. Honestly, that feels like that’s the accomplishment. That’s what I reach for. Is there a way I can create something that kids will hold on to in the way we’ve all held on to Jurassic Park for so many years? That would be something to be deeply proud of.

Jurassic World: Dominion lands in theaters on Friday, June 10, 2022.

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