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Jurassic Park Cast

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Jurassic Park Cast

Catch Jurassic Park this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: ©Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

Jurassic Park taught us all many things. We learned a lot about hiding from velociraptors in fancy kitchens, using “please” when dealing with nefarious computer hackers named Nedry, and that Jeff Goldblum never needs an excuse to have his shirt casually fly open during the most climactic parts of a movie. But how much do you know about the great actors who brought the characters to life? Before you catch IFC’s Jurassic Park movie marathon, check out a few things you might not know about the cast. Don’t worry, we spared no expense.

1. Sam Neill is an award-winning wine maker.

In 1993, the same year Jurassic Park hit theaters, the Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated actor started a small vineyard outside of Gibbston, New Zealand with five acres of Pinot Noir grapes. Now 23 years later, the vineyard, named Two Paddocks, has grown in size, producing five varieties of Pinot and two varieties of Riesling. Neill discovered his love for red wine through his acting mentor, the legendary James Mason, when the pair would dine together in London around the time the future Dr. Grant starred as the adult Damien in The Omen III: The Final Conflict. Insert “blood of Christ” joke here.


2. Laura Dern has been in nine movies (and counting) with her mother.

Yes, the actress who brought Ellie Satler to life is the daughter of Academy-Award nominated actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, so she comes by the performing bug naturally. In fact, the trio is the first family to ever receive adjoining stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But Laura Dern has most frequently worked with her mother, with both of them receiving Academy Award nominations for the 1991 period drama Rambling Rose, the first time in history that a mother and daughter received acting nominations the same year and for the same film. Dern was just 24 at the time, making her one of the youngest Best Actress nominees in history.


3. Jeff Goldblum is an accomplished jazz pianist.

Before he flirted with Ellie Satler via chaos theory lesson, beloved actor (and frequent Portlandia guest star) Jeff Goldblum grew up in Pittsburgh, where he learned to play piano from his parents as a kid and started playing gigs at cocktail lounges around the city in his teens. At the encouragement of Woody Allen, Goldblum formed the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra (named for a Pittsburgh neighbor) in the early ’90s. The quintet plays a regular weekly show in Los Angeles that is heavily improvised, with Goldblum interacting with audience members in between sets of Thelonius Monk or Dave Brubeck. And if you’re REALLY lucky, the national treasure known as Goldblum might sing his version of the Jurassic Park theme with lyrics, which we’re guessing probably causes much chaos (wink wink) among fans in the audience.


4. Wayne Knight worked as a private detective in between acting jobs.

Knight got his first Broadway role by writing to the producers of the long-running comedy Gemini and demanding an audition if they ever needed a replacement actor. They called him in for an audition, and he got the job. But in between acting gigs, Knight waited tables around New York City. A friend had gotten a job at a detective agency, and Knight decided to give it a try since the agency liked hiring actors (they tended to be pretty adept at lying). It’s safe to say Knight’s detective work literally paid off, as one of his first major movie roles was as a detective interrogating Sharon Stone during the infamous leg-crossing scene in Basic Instinct.


5. Ariana Richards was in a Ben Folds music video.

One of Ben Folds’ first hits was “Brick” off the 1997 album Ben Folds Five album, Whatever and Ever Amen. Richards starred in the 1998 music video for the song, playing a pregnant high school teenager going to get an abortion in a nod to Folds’ own experience with his high school girlfriend. Richards followed that up with a role in the direct-to-video flick Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, reprising her original Tremors role as Mindy Sterngood. These days, Richards is a studio painter, specializing in portraiture and landscapes in the style of the Impressionists. One of her pieces hangs in Steven Spielberg’s office.


6. Sir Richard Attenborough was part of the Royal Air Force Film Unit during WWII.

Before he became an acclaimed actor and filmmaker, Richard Attenborough joined the Royal Air Force early on in WWII. After his initial training period ended, he was moved into the newly-created Film Unit, which operated out of Pinewood Studios (the future home of Star Wars and the Bond franchise, among other films). The R.A.F. Film Unit was responsible for not only documenting RAF personnel in action but making propaganda films. One such film was 1944’s Journey Together, which starred the 21 year-old Attenborough and Edward G. Robinson. Attenborough moved through the ranks of the RAF Film Unit, earning the title of sergeant, filming many missions from the rear gunner’s position. Unfortunately he sustained permanent ear damage during one mission whilst filming the Bomber Command unit on an air raid in Germany. He is also the last veteran of WWII to win the Best Director Oscar.


7. Joseph Mazzello was supposed to star in an earlier version of A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

Steven Spielberg’s 2001 film A.I. Artificial Intelligence had a long, thorny development period going all the way back to the early 1970s when Stanley Kubrick sought to turn Brian Aldiss’ short story “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long” into a feature-length film. He brought on Spielberg as a producer in 1985, but abandoned the project in 1991 after multiple re-writes and complaints that computer graphics weren’t advanced enough to bring the artificial human, David, to life. The project was revived in 1994 after Kubrick saw the special effects in Jurassic Park, and Mazzello was immediately attached to star as David. However, Kubrick’s interest in the project waned due to technical difficulties, and he made his last film, Eyes Wide Shut, instead. Spielberg took the reins after Kubrick’s death in 1999 and cast Haley Joel Osment as David (Mazzello was 17 by the time Spielberg’s version of the film went into production in the summer of 2000). The closest Mazzello ever got to making A.I. was the hokey 1997 family sci-fi film, Star Kid, where his character finds and wears an alien cybersuit with A.I. capabilities that changes his personality.


8. Bob Peck mentored Sir Ian McKellen at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Though McKellen was actually born six years before the late Peck, the veteran actor of stage and screen has frequently cited Peck as the actor from whom he learned the most. Peck, who played game warden Muldoon in Jurassic Park, spent nine years with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s acting ensemble during what is arguably known as its “golden era.” He played a number of prominent roles alongside the likes of McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, Jeremy Irons, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Ian Holm (among others). Former RSC artistic director Trevor Nunn recalled seeing McKellen watching Peck from the wings during a performance in awe and whispering, “He is the future.” Though he won a BAFTA for his work in the BBC thriller Edge of Darkness, Peck didn’t gain widespread notoriety outside of the U.K. until his role in Jurassic Park. Sadly, he passed away just six years later in 1999 from cancer, but left a considerable mark on the stage, screen, and McKellen himself.


9. B.D. Wong is a Tony Award winner.

While B.D. Wong is known for roles in everything from Jurassic Park to Mr. Robot, he made a name for himself early in his career on the Great White Way. Wong won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for his role as the enigmatic opera diva, Song Liling, in M. Butterfly opposite John Lithgow in 1988. He also starred as Linus in the 1999 Tony Award-winning revival of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, aka the show that made a young Kristen Chenoweth a star. But despite Wong’s musical theatre talents, Disney chose Donny Osmond to record the songs for Wong’s character in Mulan, Captain Li Shang. Perhaps he’ll reprise the role in the inevitable Mulan stage musical?


10. Samuel L. Jackson practiced lightsaber moves on the golf course.

It’s no secret Samuel L. Jackson is crazy about golf. He has a clause added to all his film contracts that he must have easy access to golf courses even when he is on location. But in an interview with Golf Digest, Jackson admitted that he used to carry his lightsaber around in his golf bag with his clubs while on location in Australia, because he had over 109 movements to learn for his role as Mace Windu in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Whenever play on the course was slow, Jackson would practice his movements to the delight of many of his fellow golfers. Apparently, his golf handicap is better than Mace Windu’s lightsaber skills: the character is killed during a fight with Darth Sidious in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. May the FORE be with you, Sam.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.