(Spoiler alert: Do not read on if you have not seen “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”)
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is chock-full of action and suspense, much of it supplied by CG dinosaurs wreaking havoc.
But for star Bryce Dallas Howard and director J.A. Bayona, the most challenging scene to shoot didn’t involve any of the prehistoric creatures at all — but an underwater episode that was as difficult to prep as it was dangerous to shoot.
It all happens — spoiler alert — when Howard’s dinosaur activist Claire and tech guy Franklin (Justice Smith) find themselves shut in a glass-covered spherical bubble vehicle when it plunges off a cliff on the Jurassic World island and into the ocean.
“You have the actors in the crystal ball sinking, running out of air. It’s very dangerous,” Bayona told TheWrap. “I was a little scared shooting it.”
Howard and Smith weren’t the only ones trapped in the glass bubble underwater, he added.
“That moment was about creating claustrophobia, so I wanted to keep the camera[person] inside with the actors to create that emotion,” he said. “We were doing rehearsals for that for days and we spent like three days shooting that, and technically, it was a very demanding scene because it was made with different shots to merge into what made it look like a single take.”
Howard admitted she did indeed feel claustrophobic shooting the scene — despite months of physically demanding preparation, including scuba diving. “Getting to train for that in advance minimized the challenge,” she said, “so you never bump up against a place where you are actually experiencing real panic.”
“If you panic underwater, it’s over, you’re done,” she said, adding. “I am making it sound like it’s the most hardcore thing in the world — like, it’s a movie.”
Still, Howard said she relished the chance to return to the “Jurassic” franchise and the whole action-movie experience.
“The thing that was great about this movie was, there were a lot of stunts and set pieces where we knew there was gonna be a ton of physical sequences more than in ‘Jurassic World,'” she said. “It made me want to make action movies more because it was so good to have a goal that requires physiological achievement.
“I was like, ‘I need to go up and down this ladder a million times and not have my hands become so blistered and super-duper sore. OK, six months, how do we get there?’ It’s that in combination with scuba diving and sprinting down the hill… it keeps you active, and I loved it!”
Colin Trevorrow, who helmed the first “Jurassic World,” is set to direct the third film, but Bayona said he would definitely be interested in returning to the franchise down the line.
“For me, it was a way of taking some air after doing three very emotional and intense movies,” said Bayona, whose credits include the dark indies “The Orphanage” and “A Monster Calls.” “It was the first time to do comedy and action and things I never did before and I enjoyed it.”
Howard offered praise for both of her “Jurassic” directors. “Colin and J.A. were different sides of the same Steven Spielberg coin,” she said. “Colin captured the wonderment and the nostalgia of Jurassic and J.A. really brought in this intensity and the suspense and emotional impact and the spectacle of the natural disaster.”
The actress also loved the fact that Bayona would play classic movie music on set. “When he needed us to cry, he would play the classic John Williams theme song,” she said. “It gets me every time. ‘Powered by John Williams.'”
Speaking of Spielberg’s original 1993 “Jurassic Park,” that seminal blockbuster happens to be Howard’s favorite movie of the franchise.
“No matter how many I am in, my tenderness to these will never eclipse my devotion to the original,” she said. “I saw that movie opening weekend when I was 12. It was a life-changing experience. It was like my ‘Star Wars.’ In my kind of age range, there is an eight-year period where it’s like… ‘Jurassic Park’ actually changed all of our lives.”
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” opened Friday.