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Laura Dern says she was 23 when she did ‘Jurassic Park.’ Sam Neill can’t believe it either

Actor Laura Dern says she was 23 years old when she did “Jurassic Park,” released in 1993.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Laura Dern says she was 23 years old in “Jurassic Park.” And everyone else was today years old when they found out about it.

The internet went into a collective state of shock this weekend after Sam Neill revealed in a recent joint interview with Dern and the Sunday Times that there is a 20-year age gap between him and his “Jurassic Park” co-star. The veteran actors played professional contemporaries and love interests in the classic Steven Spielberg film.

“Laura was a tender age. I’m guessing … 23?” Neill said. Dern promptly confirmed he was right.

“She was already an exciting actor — she had done David Lynch films. It was no surprise she was asked. But I was completely baffled to be called by Steven. I didn’t get it.”

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Surprised? So was Neill, who exclaimed, “I am 20 years older than Laura! ... Which at the time was a completely appropriate age difference for a leading man and lady!” The gap hadn’t struck him until relatively recently, he said, when he opened a magazine and there was an article called ‘Old geezers and gals.’ People like Harrison Ford and Sean Connery acting with much younger people.”

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Neill, now 74, was stunned to find his name under the “old geezers” column opposite Dern, 55: “I thought, ‘Come on,’” he added. “‘It can’t be true.’” After years of pre-production, production and post-production, “Jurassic Park” was released on June 11, 1993.

For what it’s worth, Dern said she was also unaware of their considerable age disparity while making the blockbuster based on the Michael Crichton novel of the same name. The Oscar winner and Neill recently reunited to reprise their iconic roles in “Jurassic World Dominion,” coming to theaters June 10.

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“It felt completely appropriate to fall in love with Sam Neill,” Dern told the Sunday Times. “It was only now, when we returned in a moment of cultural awareness about the patriarchy, that I was, like, ‘Wow! We’re not the same age?’”

Neill and Dern aren’t the only ones floored by this belated discovery. Plenty of “Jurassic Park” fans also couldn’t get over the fact that the woman cast as Dr. Ellie Sattler — a leading paleobotanist — was evidently closer in age to the children in the movie than her onscreen partner.

“I don’t mean to be a jerk. But I never would have guessed Laura Dern was 23 in Jurassic Park,” tweeted video creator Lauren Chen. “I honestly thought she was like 5-ish years younger than Sam Neill. Also her character has a phd! I guarantee no one saw the film and thought ‘wow what an inappropriate age gap.’”

“My timeline is nothing but Wordle scores and people finding out Laura Dern was 23 when ‘Jurassic Park’ was filmed,” tweeted writer Charlotte Clymer.

See other incredulous reactions to Dern and Neill’s interview below.


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