Colin Trevorrow Explains How He Crafted ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ as Ellie Sattler’s Story

The director and co-writer talks to TheWrap about reuniting old favorites and a possible director’s cut

Universal Pictures

“Jurassic World: Dominion” is finally here and for director Colin Trevorrow marks the end of a very long saga that began with the original “Jurassic World” back in 2015 (only his second narrative film as a director following his Sundance smash “Safety Not Guaranteed”).

It was that early film that introduced the heroes of this new trilogy, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who in the latest installment join forces with the legacy characters from “Jurassic Park” – Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern). This is the big, boisterous, “Jurassic Park” bouillabaisse fans have been anxiously waiting for.

TheWrap got to talk to Trevorrow about wrapping up this new trilogy (the second film in the new series, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” was directed by J.A. Bayona, but Trevorrow produced and co-wrote), whether or not he’d be down for more and how Dodgson got that shaving cream can out of the muck from the original “Jurassic Park.”

Mild spoilers for “Jurassic World: Dominion” follow but if you’ve seen any of the promotional materials, you’re safe.

Let’s start at the beginning – what happened to that that prologue that was shared online? It was so beautiful and Malick-ian.

Maybe too Malick-ian for a big summer movie. It was the beginning of the movie, it’s the first five minutes of the film and something I’m very proud of. In our negotiations for how long this movie could be, and it’s still a pretty long movie, we realized that it was going to have to go. Universal supported my request to just give it to everyone for free and let people watch this prologue as a way to bring them into the world that we were creating. Hopefully, and I could almost say assuredly, someday you will be able to see it again.

Does that mean there’s a director’s cut coming our way?

We’ll see. We’ll see how things go. Fingers crossed.

The second movie left it so open – there’s dinosaurs running around all over the place. How did you tackle that problem and how did you winnow it down to what we have in this movie?

I wanted to approach it from a place of scientific believability, and plausibility. When we look at how animals have been released in the ecosystems over time, they’re going to change the balance in a way that pythons affected the Florida everglades, but it takes a long time. This is four years later, and I wanted to really try to imagine what the real-world implications would be. How quickly they would multiply, what kind of interactions humans and dinosaurs would have.

The reason why we made the short film, “Battle at Big Rock,” was to set the tone for what this was going to be. It wasn’t going to be dinosaurs battling humans in New York City. It was something that, hopefully, honors Crichton’s work a little bit more. I don’t think he ever wrote a fantasy book.

Was that one of the challenges, too, getting to a place where the dinosaurs will be in this somewhat confined space, and obviously, still making sure all hell broke loose from there?

For me, it’s the second half of the movie when they started to converge in that environment. It may have been just because I did grow up on “Jurassic Park,” but each of these films rely on the humans not being able to just call an Uber and get out of there.

They have to be trapped in a confined space in order for the kind of sequences that these movies thrive on to exist. I also felt like we’ve taken the audience on a journey that has a lot of new in it in the first half. It’s a lot of new ideas and new sequences. I felt, as we get toward the end of this meal that we’d been serving, it was important to bring out some comfort dishes, and make sure that, as our characters collided with the “Jurassic Park” characters, it really felt like “Jurassic Park.”

Can we talk about the Malta sequence? Because it’s so fun, with the black-market dinosaur dealers and all of that. Was that a slice of this post-Jurassic World life that you were dying to dig into?

We’re not here to send messages with our films, but each of them are grounded in something, hopefully, that the world is feeling at that moment. When we made “Fallen Kingdom,” that was a movie about displacing animals from their natural habitat, and the potential consequences of that. One of the things that we didn’t depict in that film is animals bought and sold in markets. That’s something that we wanted to build into this, the sense that one of the justifications for why they are spreading all around the world, and how valuable they would be to so many people, and how impossible it is for humans to deny the opportunity to make money, regardless of how it affects the natural world, or animals that live in it.

And the whole chase sequence that follows, with the bad raptors, must have been incredibly complicated.

It was. I feel like a lot of my answers tend to be the same. I tell you what it means to me, and then, “It’s also super awesome.” There’s the kid in me, who’s like, “And then, they’re running through the streets!” But both of those are me. In this case, it was important for me to not necessarily walk back the technology that we had been introducing, when it comes to the way that Owen Grady and Barry, Omar Sy’s character, studies with raptors are now being applied in the world. I wanted to keep it feeling based in the realities of what animals can do. If animals catch a scent, they will hunt you until you’re dead. We just wanted to stick to that, instead of going deeper into sci-fi territory.

Universal Pictures

There are also this idea of these locusts that are threatening the world, and it’s something that has been kept out of the marketing.

We’re not holding it. Actually it’s in the first trailer. There’s a bunch of locusts chasing those kids. We’ve actually just kept the story out of the trailer in a lot of ways. Now that you’ve seen the movie, the story that I think they’re selling, it’s not necessarily even the main story of the movie.

Even though, it is true. Honestly, it came from my desire, and Emily Carmichael’s desire, to make this Ellie Sattler’s story and for her to be the engine of it. She is a paleobotanist, and she studies ancient plants, and our knowledge of how ecological history can help protect us from extinction. We wanted to honor her area of expertise, and to me, that was more important than keeping everything about “Jurassic” focused solely on dinosaurs.

These insects have survived 65 million years of evolution. There’s actually one of them in the prologue. The very first shot has one of these locusts in it. To me, it was another opportunity to just recognize that the climate crisis isn’t just about extreme temperatures and storm systems, it’s about tilting the delicate balance of the planet’s essential biology. In this case, I felt like, as we talked to our geneticists and scientists, this was the scenario that they laid out, about how genetic power, and the manipulation of it, could cause worldwide disaster. Not just in some neighborhoods, or continents, or where characters happen to be, but everywhere.

That, to me, it felt like it allowed our movie to be about the very thing that “Jurassic Park” was about. It is a dire warning, and it is that the consequences of the genetic power that was unleashed back in 1993, in a real-world scenario.

And you got to set them on fire, which looks really cool.

That’s the rest of that sentence. You’re right. You know how I think.

What was your approach to bringing back the original cast, and the mixture of nostalgia to new ideas, and new dinosaurs? That must have been a tricky balancing act.

I think it all is. We had, essentially, nine major characters, and all of them needed a beginning, middle, and an end. Three of them, and honestly, four of them, because of Dr. Woo, even though he’s been in all three of our movies, there is something deep within us that connects to characters that we saw in our childhood for the first time. It’s really hard for us to let some of those stories go, because of when we experience them. I’m very conscious of how important Ellie, and Alan, and Ian are to a generation that grew up on Jurassic Park. My job was to make sure that they were shown the respect of putting them on a full-fledged adventure, and putting them in danger, and making them an intrinsic part of the story.

We got there by really talking to each of them, and considering that they are authorities on their own characters as much as I am, or ever could be. They’ve been those characters for 28 years. It was a bit of a conversation, and ultimately, not just the locust storyline, but the parenting storyline, with Owen and Claire, all of those came out of what these actors felt their characters needed in order to, I don’t want to say complete their destiny, but that’s really what we’re doing.

Do you have a reasonable explanation as to how Dodgson got that shaving cream can? How did you get it out of the island, out of the mud?

How did he get it out? We may have an opportunity to see that in the future. I don’t know if you watch our Netflix show, but if you know any kids who do, there may be an answer somewhere.

Michael Arndt has a special consultant credit. What did he do on the movie?

Michael, and all of those writers, and even some, unfortunately, that we weren’t able to list just yet, because the WGA has been working on creating an opportunity for all writers to be acknowledged. There’s a couple of names that I wish could be there but aren’t, because we were playing by the old rules. We just would spend a day with writers, a couple of days in some cases. Writers who we respected, who were especially world-builders, or great storytellers. Krysty Wilson-Cairns is another, David Koepp himself, the writer of “Jurassic Park,” to just kick the tires on our story, and ask us questions, and make sure that what we were doing was landing the way that we wanted it to land. This is a big movie, and it’s a film that a lot of people obviously anticipate and are going to have certain expectations for. I think it would be arrogant for Emily and I to think that we can do it all alone, and we had a lot of help.

The big question is, obviously, is this the end of your run in the franchise? Are you cooking up new things? This does not conclusively end any story, really. It’s still pretty open.

It’s the end of, certainly me directing these movies. The torch was passed to me, and I think it’s time for me to pass the torch to someone else. I think there’s another director out there who’s going to look at this new world that we’ve created, and hopefully consider the new characters that we’ve built in this movie specifically, DeWanda Wise’s Kayla Watts, and Mamoudou Athie’s character, Ramsey Cole, and Dichen Lachman, to be a gift. I think they’re all amazing, and hopefully, someone will be inspired, and he or she can take this into the future.

“Jurassic World: Dominion” opens everywhere on June 10.