You were absent from The
Lost World; what persuaded you to
reprise the role of Alan Grant for Jurassic Park III?
I wanted to get it right. I wasn't right in the first one -
it's a very good film, but I could have done it better. Almost always at the
end of movies you think, 'I wish I had done that a bit differently'. Certainly
it was true at the end of the first one and it's not often you get the chance
to do things again in life. When they persuaded me to do this, they did a bit
of fast-talking and said, 'This is going to be bigger and better than the one
you did before'. That was persuasive. I said, 'I need to pay a bit more
attention to the character this time'. I was a little bit perturbed the first
time when some reviewers said, 'The dinosaurs were more interesting than the
actors'. Novelty factors aside, I think this is the best of the three films.
A second sequel
always runs the risk of seeming tired. How does this film avoid that problem?
For me it was a smart move to get a new director and a new
cast, so that one takes a fresh look at things. The T-Rex and I are really the
only two dinosaurs that have been resuscitated. Steven has new eggs to fry, and
he'd done it twice and that's probably enough and Joe is just the right guy for
the job. He's wonderful with action, nice with actors and it's exciting for
him. I suspect it wouldn't have been exciting for Steven, but he loved coming
to the set and checking what was going on.
After the first 20
minutes, Jurassic Park III is pretty much non-stop action. How did that take
its toll during the shooting process?
I think we are all pretty cut and bruised up, but I was kind
of expecting it because Joe said rather ominously, 'This is going to be the
most physical thing you've ever done'. And it was, big time. There's 10 times
more action in this film than the first one, 10 times more banging up and
running around and jumping off things and getting slammed and drowning... There
was no end to the indignities that we had to suffer!
Describe how it was
working on set with Stan Winston's dinosaurs.
What surprised me and probably everyone else who worked on
the film was just how swept away one was by the experience of watching this
technology. They are much more animated than ever, and if a dinosaur is more
realistic then it's going to be more fun to work with. When these things are
switched on, you really feel that you are working with sentient beings on the
set. They're pretty cool.
How does playing an
action hero differ from your more serious drama roles?
I think it's a particular sort of acting when you are
playing those Errol Flynn/Harrison Ford/Mel Gibson action parts. I don't do
those kinds of parts much, and that's probably why I wasn't any good the first
time around. I play psychopaths and people's dads and things like that
usually... I don't underestimate it: it's not just physical work, it takes real
malice aforethought to get those things right.
Did the other cast
members ever ask you for advice?
You'd think they would, wouldn't you? But nobody asked me
for one piece of ordinary advice the whole way through the film.
This year alone we've
seen you In Jurassic Park III and The
Dish, a small but much loved Australian
drama. Do you consciously plan your career moves?
I have been making films since 1976; that's quite a long
time and some things are big and some films are small. I do them if they
interest me. I make films in the US
and the more obscure parts of the world. I don't make career moves: acting is
my work and I love it, but there's much more to life than that, thank God. I
think The Dish is a wonderful film,
and I think Jurassic Park is wonderful too, and these
things counterbalance each other.
<Note: The Joe Johnston part of the article
has been edited out.>