Jurassic Park Cast

Park Visitors

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

Catch Jurassic Park this month on IFC.

Posted by on
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.

Watch More
Rocky IV Paulie Robot

Mr. Roboto

5 Reasons Rocky IV Is Too Rotten to Miss

Catch Rocky IV Friday at 8P during IFC's Rotten Fridays.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: MGM/UA/YouTube

When Rocky IV was released in 1985, the critics were not kind. (While it wasn’t around back then, the film’s 39% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes speaks for itself.) Less of a movie than a jingoistic music video starring a robot and a steroid-addled, monosyllabic Russian baddie, Rocky IV is a far cry from the Italian Stallion’s humble origins.

Still, more than any movie ever made, it exemplifies the whole “so bad its good” genre. This movie was made for us, the great-unwashed masses of the 1980s, who loved the band Survivor and hated those Commie bastards. Before you catch Rocky IV on IFC’s Rotten Fridays, let’s take a look at some moments that make this flick a “too rotten to miss” classic.

5. That Opening Shot

Rocky IV
United Artists

It takes all of 30 seconds for the audience to know they’re in for one ridiculous rollercoaster ride through a Cold War conniption fit of good vs. evil. Gone is the subtle tone and grounded reality of the first Rocky. In its place we see two gloves, one emblazoned with the American flag, the other with the Soviets’, hurtling toward each other. When they collide, sparks fly, and we witness an explosion decades in the making.

In case the symbolism is too subtle for you, director/writer/star Sylvester Stallone is trying to hint that this movie will be the clash of civilizations we’d all been waiting for, but instead of nuclear bombs, a humble palooka from the streets would be duking it out in the ring with the ultimate representation of coldhearted Communism. If it were up to us, this opening shot would’ve won Best Picture all by itself.


4. So Many Montages

Rocky IV has a running time of 91 minutes and 20 seconds. Its eight montages (yes, EIGHT) run a total of 29 minutes and 10 seconds. That is one third of the movie solely dedicated to montages. (Considering Stallone’s contempt for all things Soviet, we have to wonder if he knows it was a dirty Ruskie who invented the montage.)

During one of the many, many montages, director Stallone actually flashes back to a scene that had happened a minute and half prior, creating the impression that he might actually flashback to the montage we were just watching in the same montage. Stallone clearly loves a good montage set to an inspirational ’80s song, and so do we. Which brings us to…


3. A Soundtrack Full of Pumped Up ’80s Jams

Speaking of montages, they are set to the score of some of the cheesiest hits from the mid-’80s. For once, we’re spared tracks from Frank Stallone, with Stallone replacing his rocker brother with synth-y singles from Survivor, John Cafferty and Kenny Loggins. And of course, Robert Tepper, possessor of an ’80s mullet that could topple empires, crooning “No Easy Way Out.” The music in this movie is one step away from being a parody of the music in this movie. If you ever want to know what cocaine can do to the human mind, just listen to this soundtrack.


2. Rocky Ends the Cold War

Rocky IV speech
United Artists

In one of the most misguided, self-congratulatory, and immediately dated moments in cinema history, good ol’ galoot Rocky Balboa single-handedly ended the Cold War four years before the Berlin Wall came down.

To quote the Italian Stallion himself: “In here…there were two guys… killing each other. But I guess that’s better than millions. What I’m trying to say is… if I can change… and you can change…everybody can change!” And just like that the Soviet public, generals and even the Premier himself rose to their feet in applause, realizing what fools they’d been. This guy beat Mr. T for Heaven’s sake. He knows what he’s talking about!


1. Paulie’s Robot

Okay, let’s all take a deep breath and really consider this for a moment. Rocky IV has a robot butler in it. A movie franchise that began back in 1976 exploring the gritty reality of a bum fighter trying to prove himself somehow limped along long enough to turn into a weak Short Circuit rip-off in which an alcoholic mooch with a history of domestic abuse now gets his coffee served to him by a robot. A robot that he has programmed with a “sultry” lady voice!

Stallone was inspired to include the real life robot Sico in Rocky IV because of the work it did to help autistic children like his son Seargeoh. That’s all very moving, but doesn’t explain why he decided to write a scene where Paulie dubs poor Sico “the love of my life.” It’s a testament to Rocky IV‘s “too rotten to miss” status that Paulie’s robot girlfriend/personal servant isn’t even the craziest thing that happens to Rock and the gang.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Rocky IV this Friday at 8P on IFC. 

Watch More
Swimming To Cambodia Spalding Gray

Gray's Anatomy

Everything You Need to Know About the Movie That Inspired “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”

Brand new Documentary Now! airs Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Cinecom Pictures

This week Documentary Now! spotlights a master monologist with “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything.” Before you tune in at 10P this Wednesday on IFC, check out our guide to Swimming to Cambodia, the 1987 film that captured writer/performer Spalding Gray’s acclaimed one-person show.

Spalding Gray 101

Swimming to Cambodia
Cinecom Pictures

Actor and renowned monologist Spalding Gray spent two years on stage perfecting his Obie Award-winning “Swimming to Cambodia” monologue. In it, Gray tells the story of his eight weeks in Southeast Asia while shooting the 1984 Academy Award-winning movie The Killing Fields. He had a small role, but the experience gave him several anecdotes about hanging out with the film crew and experiencing the local culture, all while searching for “the perfect moment.”

Directed by the Silence of the Lambs Guy

Hannibal Lecter
Orion Pictures/Everett Collection

Acclaimed filmmaker Jonathan Demme took Gray’s two-night, four hour performance and crafted it down to 85 minutes. His use of dramatic lighting, stylish camerawork and a score by performance artist Laurie Anderson was praised by critics and earned the film a cult following. No stranger to groundbreaking docs, Demme also directed the 1984 Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense, which Documentary Now! pays tribute to in this season’s episode “Final Transmission.”

All about the Voices

While it may have been a one-man show, Gray created a repertoire of characters all with distinctive accents. (He portrayed conversations between himself and others just by turning his head.) Our favorite impressions are of his demanding girlfriend Renee and Ivan Strasberg, the South African director of photography on The Killing Fields who, as depicted by Gray, sounds a bit like a Jamaican surfer.

The Original Cranky New Yorker

In one memorable scene, Gray rants about how his noisy upstairs artist neighbors are driving him and Renee crazy. Even in the mid-’80s, there were New Yorkers complaining that the city wasn’t what it used to be.

Show and Tell

Swimming to Cambodia
Cinecom Pictures/YouTube

A big fan of visual aids, Gray used pull-down maps to illustrate his travels. This helped to bring Swimming to Cambodia to life, since he’s basically sitting at a desk the entire time.

Inspired One-Person Shows

Gray’s groundbreaking performances in Swimming and other documentaries like Monster in a Box and the Steven Soderbergh-directed Gray’s Anatomy (about Gray’s struggle with a rare eye condition) paved the way for future one-person shows. (We wouldn’t have everything from Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” to Mike Birbiglia’s “Sleepwalk With Me” without him.) Even Doc Now! star Fred Armisen got into the one-person show act for his recent SNL monologue.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Spalding Gray when “Parker Gail: Location Is Everything” premieres Wednesday, September 28th at 10P on IFC. 

Watch More
Rocky IV Stallone Lundgren

Burning Heart

10 Reasons Why Rocky IV Is the Ultimate Rocky Movie

Catch an all-day Rocky movie marathon this Friday, September 30th on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: United Artists/Everett Collection

Sure, most people love the first Rocky for its heart, gripping boxing scenes and the classic training montage. Or, you might love Creed for being both a return-to-form and a new exploration of the Rocky mythology. Maybe the thrill of seeing Mr. T and Hulk Hogan in the same movie makes Rocky III your top pick. Well, sorry, you’re wrong: Rocky IV is the greatest of all the “Italian Stallion”‘s movies.

Before you watch the all-day Rocky movie marathon this Friday, September 30th on IFC (with Rocky IV airing at 8P as part of Rotten Fridays), check out a few reasons to appreciate the fourth installment as the king of the series.

1. The Greatest Opening Ever

How many openings are able to sum up the entire conflict of the film in less than a minute and without a single line of dialogue? And how many of those movies have exploding boxing gloves? Just try to watch the opening sequence above and not be completely psyched for the pumped-up flick to come.


2. Montages!

We all know that the best part of any sports movie is the montage, and Rocky IV doesn’t give you one measly montage. There’s a recap of the previous films montage, a getting to Russia Montage, two training montages and an ending fight montage. That’s five montages! There’s probably a montage of montages snuck in there, too.


3. There’s a Full James Brown Musical Number

This movie is so packed with memorable moments, it’s easy to forget one of the first things that happens in the film: Apollo comes out to fight Drago dressed as a shirtless Uncle Sam, while James Brown and a full band play “Living in America.” To drive home the number’s patriotism, there are dancers in tuxedos and top hats, weird unitards and bowler caps, and bedazzled showgirls with headpieces for miles. Oh, and don’t forget the giant tentacled dragon statue on the stage. This is how every boxing match should start. Heck, this is how we always want to enter a room.


4. The Soundtrack

The Rocky IV soundtrack doesn’t just feature James Brown — it has rock anthems galore, all of which make you immediately want to hit the gym. From “Heart’s on Fire” by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band to “Sweetest Victory” by Touch to multiple Survivor jams, you’ll get pumped and stay pumped. Even the instrumental score rocks! Sure, sometimes it sounds like it was made on a kids Casio, but this soundtrack never quits and — to quote Robert Tepper — never takes the easy way out.


5. Abs!

Rocky IV weights

Every Rocky movie shows off Stallone’s incredible physique, but Rocky IV really ups the game. Not only do we get Dolph Lundgren mostly shirtless looking like a man machine, but we get a wide variety of scenes of Stallone doing impossible tasks. Stallone’s crazy dragon fly crunches, aka a thing no human should be able to do, automatically take this movie to the top.


6. Two words: Ivan Drago

Ivan Drago
United Artists

Not only does Rocky IV explore the global conflict between the US and the Soviet Union, but it encapsulates all of our fears of the Cold War in one perfect villain. Ivan Drago only trains with machines and science and looks like he stepped out of an Aryan Nations recruitment poster. He also only responds in short, cold phrases like “If he dies, he dies,” or “I must break you.” There’s never been a villain who we so clearly want to get the crap beat out of than Ivan Drago.


7. Rocky Makes Chores Look Badass

Rocky saw
United Artists

Rocky doesn’t need to be hooked up to machines to become the perfect fighter. All he needs are huge tires and some outdoor chores to do. No one’s ever looked cooler chopping wood and using tractor parts. Half of his training is lifting an old wagon, probably to fix a broken axle. If anything, this film inspires us to take care of that gardening work we’ve been neglecting.


8. Rocky’s Beard

Rocky IV Beard

Stallone’s beard game is truly on point in Rocky IV. And this isn’t some “I forgot to shave, here’s a little stubble” look. No, we get full out, lumberjack-style beard action. Does any other Rocky movie have our hero looking like an old Russian aristocrat? Another point for Rocky IV.


9. There’s a robot!

Again, there’s so much to Rocky IV, you probably forgot about the robot. Well, Rocky has some money now and he’s not going to spend it on frivolous things for himself. He’s going to buy Paulie a robot! The best part of this scene is how truly disturbed Paulie is by this new technology until he gives it a sexy lady voice.


10. Rocky Ends the Cold War

If you’re still not convinced that Rocky IV is the greatest, answer this question: Does any other Rocky movie bring peace between the US and Russia?

By the end of the film, Rocky rises up to beat the seemingly undefeatable Drago. He fights so well, that even the Russians begin to appreciate his skills. Then, instead of using his victory to prove America’s superiority, he gives a rousing speech of “If I can change and you can change, everybody can change!” The whole crowd goes wild, including all of the Russian government, who we assume give up Communism immediately based solely on Rocky’s words. Stallone’s call for international reconciliation through brutal fighting and a variety of montages makes this if not one of the greatest films of all time, certainly the greatest Rocky of them all.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Rocky IV this Friday at 8P on IFC. 

Watch More
Powered by ZergNet