‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ Director Colin Trevorrow on Embracing Feathered Dinosaurs, Taking the Series in a Fresh Direction, and Having Sympathy for the T-Rex [Interview]
It’s no surprise that Colin Trevorrow — director of Jurassic World and the upcoming Jurassic World: Dominion — loves dinosaurs. And while Dominion, thanks to the pandemic, won’t come out until June 10, 2022, there will be an extended preview of the film in IMAX theaters before screenings of F9 later this month. We’ve seen the footage, and dinosaur fans will be heaven.
/Film talked to Trevorrow about the extended preview, his favorite dinosaurs, what fans can look forward to when Dominion comes out next year, and new details about Dominion’s storyline.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
The first part of the preview was like watching a National Geographic documentary and acted as an origin story for the entire Jurassic franchise. What inspired you to put on screen their natural habitat and show a scientifically realistic depiction of how the dinosaurs lived?
For the reason you exactly you said, to be able to create an origin for the Jurassic franchise. But also, to be able to actually take people back to that time. If you’re a dinosaur fan, that’s the era that you’ve been imagining since you were a little kid. It was a real challenge to realize it in a way that feels tactile and alive and present, and not just like a bunch of computers rendering as quickly as they can. ILM was up to it and our animators, and everybody took it on. They were excited as excited about it as I was, and I think you got to feel the love that was put into it.
How did you research the dinosaurs and decide how to depict them?
We have consultants. Steve Brusatte, who is an amazing paleontologist, started with us on this movie and then we have Jack Horner who’s been with us all the other movies. Steve specifically wrote a book that came out a couple years ago that’s become the new standard for paleontology. He knew we were going to do feathers in the movie—we hadn’t done that before. And so I went up to Edinburgh where he is and sat with him and was like, “Look man, we’re going to go for it.” There are dinosaurs with feathers, not just in the short but in the movie as well, and so we wanted to get it exactly right.
We also don’t have the excuse of frog DNA being put into the genome that we have in all the movies to say, “Well no here’s why they’re not paleontology accurate.” We had to get it right. And so we took the challenge and we ran with it.
The dinosaurs in the preview were great. I loved the feathered one eating the eggs and—I know this isn’t scientifically accurate, but the one I call the hairy T-Rex.
[Laughs] You can call it that. The one eating the egg is an oviraptor. The Morus Interpidus was the one that’s eating out of the Giganotosaurus’ teeth. It was discovered only a couple of years ago and I’m sure it probably popped into your feed if you follow dinosaur stuff. They called it the tiny T-Rex, and I just got fascinated with it immediately. That’s one of the great joys of making these movies. I marched into the office and said, “We’re putting this guy in the movie, this is cool!” It’s fun.
We chose the ones that seem cool, but it’s a combination of also knowing that if we got to make more than one movie, that we wanted to keep certain species in the tank to really hold back for scientists and fans who follow this stuff.
The Giganotosaurus, who’s the one that takes down our T-Rex [in the footage], I knew that that’s the largest carnivore known to humankind and I really wanted to make sure that we held her back to make sure that we had a villain for the third movie. We are introducing a major villain and a rivalry in a lot of ways. If you were brutally murdered 65 million years ago, you probably pretty mad about it.
Jumping ahead to the second part of the preview, when we’re back in present day, I assume it’s soon after the end of Fallen Kingdom?
It’s actually right now — it’s a couple years after Fallen Kingdom. I mean, they were in a drive-in, which is all any of us have been allowed to do.
Did the pandemic happen in Jurassic World: Dominion?
Yeah, it did. We don’t we don’t address it directly, but it was certainly happening for us [when shooting]. And so I think you’ll feel it.
I noticed when they’re running out of the drive-in in the preview, the sign said it was a classic double feature: American Graffiti and Flash Gordon. Did you pick those for any specific reason?
We picked those specifically. It was a little shout-out to heroes to George Lucas and to Ron Howard. We knew that we wanted it to be a vintage double feature, and not something that would take us out of it. What’s funny to me is that when we wrote that sequence, we had no idea we were going to be in drive-ins as our only option. And I was concerned that people were going to be confused as to when it was. But now even the idea that we would be ironically showing the “Let’s all go to the lobby” song at the beginning is that drive-ins do that.
And the T-Rex at the drive-in, it seems like it’s the same T-Rex we’ve been following in the first two films, who is one of my favorite characters in the franchise because she’s an anti-hero—she comes in and out at key moments and plays an important role. She obviously has a large presence in the preview—can you say anything more about what she’ll be up to in the third film?
We will see her in the third film, and this is really setting up her arc in the third film. The T-Rex has been through a lot. I’m with you, I find her to be a major character as well. She started on Isla Nublar, a park that ever opened and then she went through the events of Jurassic World, which were probably pretty traumatic for her. Then her home was destroyed and she was taken to a totally foreign environment, and now she’s basically on the run from the cops, and it’s all really stressful. I want her to live in peace. That’s all I want for her. So hopefully, the audience will want the same thing.
Previously in the franchise, it’s always been very conflict-driven—humans versus dinosaurs. Dominion, however, seems to be moving away from that and potentially not ending with an “either-or” conclusion. What can fans expect when they watch the third one?
We really wanted to create a world where we could address this conflict in a way that feels closer to the conflicts that we have now, which is that they’re not simple, and things go wrong. We don’t have respect for genetic power and for nature and for our relationship with the planet, and that’s going to hurt us, and it’s been hurting us in a lot of different ways.
It’s important to me that I don’t preach with these movies, I think that’s it’s important not to do that. But the story that Michael Crichton told us becomes more and more prescient with every passing year. And I think that the trilogy that we’ve made, really is sometimes amazingly so, has found its way closer to our human experience in a way that I don’t think I could have imagined when we did Jurassic World.
And so we’ve leaned into that, and we’ve embraced it. Bringing Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum into the franchise because they are scientists has allowed it to be a bit more grounded and be a bit more about genetic power as a larger force and something that needs to be respected, because it can both protect us and help us and save us, and it can also destroy the world.
Building on how it seems more and more relevant. I know, obviously, the film was delayed like everything else during the past year, and I know there have been logistical impacts from that. Did the pause of the last year impact the script in any way, not just from production constraints, but in terms of what happens in the story?
Not as much as you’d think. We had a really good team on the ground that were able to pivot and adjust as quickly as anyone can imagine. We had a big, sprawling story that we’re telling, that goes all over the world. We’re following two sets of characters that are drawing closer and closer together in what seems like parallel lines and then you realize are the same story.
In order to do that, it took everybody thinking about everything we were doing all of the time and making sure it was all going to track. You do that on every movie but in this particular one, we didn’t take the easy way. And I know that now more than ever, and I will challenge myself someday to take the easy way out. I feel like I always try to do the most challenging, fascinating road that we could take. But we did it again, and hopefully people will be down with where we took it.
The five-minute special Jurassic World: Dominion preview will play exclusively at IMAX screenings of F9 starting June 25, 2021. Jurassic World: Dominion will premiere in theaters June 10, 2022.
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