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DF: There's been rumors and I think even pieces of the early scripts that were much longer?

JJ: The story we were preparing to shoot was much more complicated, it had a mainland Costa Rican parallel story going on, with a bunch of different characters, like five or six other characters and the story happening on the island. And it was just too much. We were trying to make the logic work of, "How do we get Grant back on this island?" That was the main hurdle.

DF: Was getting Grant back a part of that original idea, too?

JJ: He was in both of them, yeah. But they were different stories.

DF: When did Sam Neill come on board, and were you worried about getting him to return?

JJ: I think Sam was pretty much on board from the start. I think he was hoping for the best possible script we could generate. But he was pretty trusting about that.

DF: I think most fans, myself included, were happy to see Laura Dern return. It was a small role, though...

JJ: Laura (Dern) knew it was just about a day's work; we shot all of her stuff in one day.

DF: Was there a reason you decided to have her and Grant be separated this time out?

JJ: I didn't want to see them as a couple anymore. For one thing, I don't think they look like a couple. It would be uncomfortable to still see them together. And Laura Dern doesn't look like she's aged for the past fifteen years! I don't know how she does that!

DF: We got to talk with some of your other actors earlier, and they said you put them through physical hell! (laughs)

JJ: (laughs) They were in constant discomfort in rain, mud, cold, stunts, and had to work with animatronic creatures that had a combined force of over a thousand horsepower! Hung from cables, bruised, cut, dropped into icy water! Conditions like this can wear patience but the entire cast was totally professional, no one ever said "I can't do another take!" The cast and crew made the film something I know I'm proud of.

DF: Let's talk about the upcoming DVD. You really don't have much of a part of that it seems. You recorded a commentary for your previous film, October Sky, but that never showed up on the DVD...

JJ: No, it didn't.

DF: Do you find the experience of contributing things like a commentary enjoyable?

JJ: I sorta feel like, after completing a film that my job is done. I have nothing to do with it really (the DVD), aside from supervising the transfer and such. Someone else takes it over after I've finished.

DF: Given all the interesting changes and earlier scripts, there isn't much of it to be included for the upcoming DVD?

JJ: No, none of that footage was ever shot. Maybe some storyboards, but that's it.

DF: Alright, last question. There's a great discussion in the film about the difference between being a student, so to speak, like Alan Grant, and more of an adventurer, like the "real life" Grant, Jack Horner. Which would you rather be, an astronaut or an astronomer?

JJ: (laughs) I've been on three digs with (paleontologist) Jack Horner. On the last one, I saw something on the ground that I thought might be a bone -- turned out to be a rock but next to it, something was sticking out of the ground, about a quarter inch. I started scraping it out and it was a T-Rex tooth, poking out of the ground where it had fallen maybe 65 million years ago, and no human being had ever touched it. Just the thought of that is amazing!

Dino sky
Director Joe Johnston on the set

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