Several hours before we sat down with Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow during the film’s Los Angeles press day, we heard him offer up two very interesting tidbits during his morning press conference: First, that his decision to use motion capture was heavily influenced by a video of an actor performing as a T-Rex – a video he claimed to still have on his phone and second, that he felt he had almost zero studio involvement/input over the course of making the film.
When we later sat down with Trevorrow, we naturally had to address both subjects because who wouldn’t want to see an actor-performing-as-a-T-Rex video? And, how is it possible that Universal, Legendary, etc. stayed entirely out of his way? (Hint: It helps to have Steven Spielberg as your executive producer.) Also hard to believe is the fact that Trevorrow will not direct a Jurassic sequel but will be involved and as such, he has specific ideas about how the next film will be more than “people running away from dinosaurs.”
And before you think we’ve gotten too far ahead of ourselves with sequel talk, there are plenty of Jurassic World-centric goods below, including Trevorrow’s entertaining tale about how he surprised hundreds of extras with a “chilling” dinosaur effect on set and which dinosaurs he wished he’d been able to include in the film. Note: MINOR spoilers about the end of the film via the final question and Trevorrow’s answer below.
How are you holding up with this studio production, junket press tour extravaganza?
I’m alright. I am surprisingly not exhausted. After two years, I feel very vital. I know I look exhausted today but this is like interview 40 and I try to give unique answers, I really try. I feel like for a movie like this there is genuine interest, I don’t want to disappoint.
Do you actually have the animatic of the motion capture on your iPhone? I asked Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins about how you orchestrated the “dinosaur choreography” and hearing about the raptor dancers, the pockets of air for the pteranodons, it’s so fascinating.
It’s all true. [Scrolls through his iPhone for the video] Ah, here it is! It’s really cool. [Plays the 10-second video – a Screen Rant exclusive, folks! – of a person performing as a T-Rex, which although on a smaller scale still looks very real -like an actual T-Rex walking toward you, hunting.] This is a person in a mo-cap suit and they’re able to do a live render of a basic dinosaur skin.
Wow, that is crazy. I think that stuff is such magic.
Yeah, it’s pretty neat.
I also can’t believe that you said you didn’t have any studio exec involvement
None. Well, I think part of that is because Steven has final cut of the movie. I answer to him for sure and through the screenwriting process, the story development process, we were very closely involved. And yet his notes are never, “Go write a scene that has this in it.” It’s always, “I don’t think this is as good as it can be,” “I don’t think this is working right, find a different way to do this that accomplishes this,” and because he’s a writer he knows how to communicate with other creatives in a way that is empowering and doesn’t feel like you’re just being told what to do. I certainly never felt controlled by anyone over this whole process, I felt supported.
John Williams scores got me through my piano lessons and I am a huge fan of Michael Giacchino as well, but where did you decide to have Mr. Giacchino do the score instead of Mr. Williams? I know he keeps trying to be retired but Spielberg will pull him out…
Right. Well, John was doing J.J.’s [Abrams] Star Wars but he came in and was wonderful. We talked for a good long time about it, he was very generous and at that time I knew I wanted to work with Michael and Brad Bird who is a great friend and mentor has worked with him as well, so I knew that’s what I wanted and luckily enough we were able to make it work. He is very busy, he has three movies coming out within a month of each other and that requires three scores written pretty much back to back so he’s exhausted, he deserves a break. But I think the work he did for this movie is transcendent. I cannot find another superlative, it’s beautiful. We have the CD now and my kid plays it as he’s playing with dinosaurs acting out the story, he runs through the whole movie with this in the background, it’s really wonderful. The score is, we do use the Williams [theme] in brief moments but his new theme, I tried to really encourage him to not be timid in writing a new theme, I want a Jurassic World theme, this movie deserves it. There was a moment pretty late – I don’t want to spoil it, but a big moment at the end of the movie where a character we love comes back and I said, “We should hear the theme here,” and he played the John Williams theme. I was like, “No no man, your theme.” And so he did and it was great. It was a very rewarding relationship.
One thing Bryce complimented you on is being so in the moment on this movie and so focused but, when do people start talking to you about, “Would you do another one?”
I’m sure you’ve seen in the press that I decided long ago, with Steven, that I was not going to direct another one but I’m going to stay involved creatively for sure. I care about it, I love this movie, it means a lot to me. It’s very personal, it’s every bit as personal as my first movie and so I feel like I have a responsibility to the movie and to the franchise to do whatever I can to see that it does not have diminishing returns.
It is also respectable that you’re still saying that, and no amount of enticing you and pulling you back in will change your mind.
No but also, I’ve spoken to the studio about it as well, I feel confident that it’s the right prescription for the franchise. There are some films that have many many sequels directed by the same director and then there’s others like Mission: Impossible and it really benefited I think by having a different director every time they don’t feel repetitive. They’re always new, they’re always fresh and a franchise like that is in danger of becoming repetitive and I think this is similar.
Is there one dinosaur that you wanted to bring in that you were unable to?
I kind of kitchen-sinked this one. [Laughs] This is like everything I wanted to see in a dinosaur movie. I knew from the beginning that I was only going to do one, so I gave it everything. There’s one called the microceratus that’s pretty awesome. It’s like a triceratops’ head on top of a little kind of compy body and it’s something you could bring to a club on a leash and it would be awesome.
Was there one particular day on set where you felt the “I can’t believe this is happening” sense of wonder or took you out of your body a little bit?
There was a moment. We have Method actors and I became a Method director on this movie. I completely convinced myself I had been directing movies for 20 years and had that level of expertise and skill and just acted accordingly. There was one day where that fell apart and was dismantled. We were shooting the mosasaurus, the scene where it comes out and eats the shark and we had this whole crowd of people and we had all these water jets facing them and they thought they were loud speakers or something, they didn’t know what we were going to do and it was like 95 degrees in New Orleans, a really hot day and we blasted them with thousands and thousands of gallons of water and all these people were reacting and they were thrilled and it was emotional, seeing a group of people react in a real way to something when I knew how it was going to come together. That for some reason, it’s a weird one, but that one got me so excited.
I’ve slipped a bit on my dinosaur knowledge, but I was so happy to know the mosasaurus was real.
Oh yeah, they’re all real except the Indominus, everything else is real.
Yes and Nick and Ty said in the press conference that raptors were much smaller.
They were smaller and feathered and they do look very different. These movies I hope will, like Jurassic Park, will inspire people who want to be filmmakers and will inspire people who want to be scientists. I would hope this movie will do the same, so it was important to me that we have that scene where Dr. Woo [BD Wong] and Masrani [Irrfan Khan] are debating the ethics of it and he says, “If these things were genetically accurate, many of them would look different, these are theme park monsters.” I want the same thing to happen on this movie as the first which is, a bunch of kids who became paleontologists are now discovering all these new dinosaurs as adults. That would be a great accomplishment.
Last question, how would you like the next chapter of the franchise to go? Would you like it to be a return to the island to fix everything? Or do you want it to be run amok, controlling what escaped into the world?
I feel like there’s been a lot of “controlling things that have escaped” and like this one I feel like it could be a bridge to something else. I’m not sure if we can have a bunch of movies of people running away from dinosaurs, part of what I tried to do and one of the reasons I changed the title – beyond the fact that if you named a theme park “Jurassic Park” after the disaster that had happened it would be a horrible PR mistake – I wanted to create a world in which dinosaurs coexist with humans in the same way that animals do today. You can go to a jungle and they’ll say, “Don’t go in there. The lions in there will eat you.” and I feel like there is so much room for us to expand the definition of what a Jurassic world is and it doesn’t necessarily have to be people running away, getting eaten all the time.
Jurassic World is in theaters June 12, 2015.