The pair were cast as palaeobotanist Dr Ellie Sattler and palaeontologist Dr Alan Grant, playing love interests in the movie. At the time, Dern was only 23 and Neill was 42. The 20-year age gap did not worry the pair, but now as they look back, Neill jokes that it was far from “appropriate”.
“I am 20 years older than Laura!” Neill, now 74, told The Sunday Times. “Which at the time was a completely appropriate age difference for a leading man and lady!”
“It never occurred to me until I 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. And there I was, on the list. I thought, ‘Come on. It can’t be true.'”
Dern, now 55, also featured in the interview, in which she also said that she did not think anything of the age gap when cast.
“Well, it felt completely appropriate to fall in love with Sam Neill,” she told the UK outlet. “And 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?'”
While Neill jokes that it was an odd casting call by director Steven Spielberg, he was just thrilled to be tapped on the shoulder to star alongside Dern, who was already an established actress at the time.
“Let me talk for Laura, because this is what men do in the patriarchy,” he joked. “Laura was a tender age. I’m guessing … 23? And 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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