The actor has been reflecting on being 19 years older than his love interest played by Oscar winner Laura Dern in the cult dinosaur film
Northern Ireland-born Jurassic Park star Sam Neill (74) has admitted he was left “baffled” after getting a life-changing call from Steven Spielberg 30 years ago.
It comes as fans of the 1993 dinosaur blockbuster sent the internet into meltdown upon realising the Omagh native’s costar Laura Dern (now 55) was only 23 when she accepted the role of his on-screen love interest, botanist Dr Ellie Sattler.
“She was already an exciting actor. She had done David Lynch films,” Neill said.
“It was no surprise she was asked. But I was completely baffled to be called by Steven. I didn’t get it.”
However, his portrayal of paleontologist Dr Alan Grant, who enjoyed a nail-biting romance with Dr Sattler while being hunted by prehistoric beasts, helped claw in a ferocious $5bn (including revenue from official merchandise).
The Emmy nominee said the gap of almost two decades “was a completely appropriate age difference for a leading man and lady” back then.
He was reflecting in an interview with the Sunday Times, which has cast movie romances into the frame.
“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,” Neill told the publication.
“And there I was, on the list. I thought, ‘Come on. It can’t be true.’”
Ford starred in Six Days, Seven Nights in 1998 opposite Anne Heche when he was 55 and she was 29.
Connery was 39 years older than Catherine Zeta-Jones in the movie Entrapment, released a year later.
Thirty years after production began on the prehistoric cult classic, Oscar winner Dern has been reflecting on changing attitudes within the industry.
“Well, it felt appropriate to fall in love with Sam Neill,” she told the Sunday Times.
“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?’”
Earlier this year, Neill, who grew up in New Zealand, revealed he still gets “a lot of flak” for his hybrid accent.
He blamed the “actor’s nightmare” on film director Spielberg.
“He came up to me halfway through the day and he said, ‘Hey, Sam, you know the accent we were talking about?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’ve been working on it for four weeks...’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about it, just use your own voice,’” he recounted.
The recent epiphany won’t disrupt the onscreen chemistry between Dr Sattler and Dr Grant, who had broken up by the time they reprised their roles in Jurassic Park III in 2001.
Now, they are set to return in a sixth instalment of the franchise favourite.
Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World Dominion hits cinemas on June 10 and also stars Dern’s former fiancé Jeff Goldblum as chaotician Dr Ian Malcolm.
The pair dated from 1995 to 1997 after meeting on the original set, despite an age gap of almost 15 years.
Just a quick glance of Sam’s social media shows he’s still close with his costars.
“These three clowns,” he captioned a recent Instagram post. “I loved our time together, our reunion in @jurassicworld Dominion. Two of my closest pals.”