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Monday, June 15, 2015

Jurassic World Director Colin Trevorrow on Stepping into Spielberg's Sneakers

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2015 at 8:00 AM

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When director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) was offered the opportunity to direct Jurassic World, he felt it was his duty to deliver something different, while remaining true to the blockbuster franchise's legacy. It was about finding balance, a theme that repeatedly crops up in the thrilling two-hour-and-10-minute adventure film.

SF Weekly chatted with Colin Trevorrow about working with Executive Producer Steven Spielberg, his favorite and least favorite characters, and how humans and corporations might learn a little humility from dinosaurs.

When you were first hired to direct Jurassic World, a sequel of the much-beloved blockbuster franchise, what was going through your mind?

I felt a certain amount of responsibility immediately to make sure that fans would get something that's not considered another diminished return. Yet I also needed to make something that wasn't a fan film, that wasn't something that was derivative in the way that every sequel is. So I needed to find a balance and make a movie that could be a bridge from a certain kind of film of people running away from dinosaurs and trying not get eaten, to what this franchise may be able to evolve into, which needs to be something different. So we built a movie that I hope that kids today feel is their Jurassic Park movie. Yet for people who are in their 30s and want to feel like kids, there's a lot in there for them, too.

Was that why the name was changed to Jurassic World?

It is a little bit. I think there's a very reasoned idea behind it. If you had a theme park called Jurassic Park, and it was a notorious spot where people died, you're gonna wanna change the name of that theme park for basic PR reasons. But I also felt that by getting Park out of the title, we could explore ideas beyond a theme park gone wrong.

How did Chris Pratt fit into the hero role?

Steven and I talked a lot about our fathers and what the models were for heroes for the two of us. His father fought in World War II and was a very sturdy, traditional, American-hero type, and my father was in Vietnam, and he lived here and protested the war here and was very much skeptical of authority and questioned authority. So we made a character that was a blend of both of our heroes. We have someone who's a combat veteran, and now he's here trying to find a connection with these animals without approving of what this park is doing on a fundamental level.

How involved was Steven Spielberg during production?

He was very involved in the story and the building of that screenplay. When I shot the film, he really stepped back and let me make a film that I felt comfortable being responsible for. He understands that, and he knew I was in his shadow. 

How acquainted were you with him prior to being brought on?

I had never met him. We had no connection whatsoever. He saw my film Safety Not Guaranteed. They called the house, and I was flown out to Los Angeles to speak with him for a little while, and he felt that based on what he'd seen in that film, there was a tone and spirit and willingness to take creative risks that he was very interested in. I think there are ideas in this movie and themes, and I know that was part of what he was interested in. He wanted something bold.

To go from a much smaller film to a big summer blockbuster is incredible.
That is incredible. I knew I could direct a big movie and that I'm detail-oriented and precise and could manage people and am very good at encouraging people to do their absolute best. But in the end, to also keep the qualities that I feel are in Safety Not Guaranteed. It's also a movie that's about something and that has an emotional realism to it in the natural way that the characters interact that feels current and feels like the people we know. And it's something I wanted to keep in tact in context of a giant blockbuster movie.

Who is your favorite character, and who is your least favorite?

Claire is definitely my favorite character. I love that she's able to start off as someone unlikeable to us and grow into the person that we are hoping she will be. I feel like she embraces something that I hope people get out of the film. We've all become very corporatized, but she slowly becomes more connected to the natural world and her animal self and becomes a badass action hero. But she does it in heels and without surrendering her femininity. I found all of that to be interesting.

It's been both fascinating and interesting for me to see it become a topic of conversation of how that character is portrayed. Just because I intended it a certain way and I'm more disappointed in myself for not anticipating certain perceptions of her.

What perceptions?

People are feeling that the character's arc is about her becoming someone who wants to have children. I never intended that, but that's how it's being perceived. There's been discussion that it's a sexist portrayal of a woman because the whole arc is her becoming connected with the mothering side of her and getting a boyfriend. Whereas I presented it as a woman who sees these animals as assets and then comes across one that's dying that allows her to see them as living, breathing things — and as a result, it allows her to see her nephews as living, breathing things. 

And who is your least favorite character?

The villain, the Indominus Rex. It represents the worst thing that can happen when you seek that profit and you create something whether you should or not. It's the manifestation of our worst qualities and should become extinct.

What are the philosophical implications in Jurassic World, and how do they differ from Jurassic Park?

Jurassic Park was about messing with science. To me, this movie is about excess and how when there's money on the table, mistakes will be remade, which is something we've certainly seen in the last 20 years. Corporations keep trying to make money at all costs. This movie is also about who's the alpha between all these different characters. Humans have certainly acted like we're the alpha for a long time, so dinosaurs are an interesting thing to add to the mix, because they were dominant far longer than we ever existed. So I think there's a great humility in the face of dinosaurs. It's about regaining a balance between us and the other animals on the planet and the respect we should show them. But it is essentially a children's film, in my eyes. I want kids to put down their cell phones and live and learn something.

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Joshua Rotter


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