Jurassic Park is one of the most famous and most successful films ever made. Its plot involves dinosaurs, of course, and it also stars two children. Indeed, Lex and Tim, played by Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello, were an important part of the movie. The franchise eventually moved on without them, however, as they don’t appear in the new Jurassic World movies. And they’re both fully grown adults now who are carrying on with their lives.
Lex and Tim are menaced by dinosaurs throughout all of Jurassic Park. But don’t worry – they come out of it alive. The siblings are initially invited to Jurassic Park as a distraction from their parents’ divorce. When everything goes wrong and the dinosaurs escape, though, they find a father figure in Dr. Alan Grant.
Steven Spielberg, the director of the film, needed a pair of talented children to portray Lex and Tim. And the ability to scream really well wouldn’t hurt, either. In fact, he picked Richards for the role of Lex partly on the basis of her bloodcurdling screeching. She was so good at it she terrified Spielberg’s wife Kate Capshaw.
Richards repeated the story to the Daily Mail in 2015. “Steven told me that he’d been watching a few of the tapes of the girls who were all up for my role and his wife, Kate, was asleep on the couch,’ she said. “He then watched my tape of me screaming, and Kate suddenly leaped up off the couch and ran into the hallway screaming, ‘Steven, Steven, are the kids okay?’”
“A moment where I wasn’t physically there changed my life,” Richards explained. Moreover, her on-screen brother Mazzello has a similar story of unexpected success. “Steven had me screen-test with Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman for Hook. I was just too young for the role,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2013. “And because of that, Steven came up to me and said, ‘Don’t worry about it, Joey. I’m going to get you in a movie this summer.’”
Needless to say, the filming of Jurassic Park was a fantastic experience for Richards and Mazzello. “It felt like a real Jurassic Park when we were there, the creatures were so incredibly life like,” Richards told the Daily Mail. “They moved in a realistic manner, thanks to as many as six guys working their bodies, and it was a golden age for special-effects creatures.”
Even when a hurricane hit on the last day of shooting, it didn’t ruin their good time. “The waves were 30 feet high, all the palm trees on the island were snapped like matchsticks, there were 150 mph winds. It was just incredible,” Richards recalled. “I’ll never forget it. The cast and crew gathered together in this big ballroom at our hotel, and it was actually a very bonding experience for us all.”
“It helped me forge some lifelong friendships, and I’ll never forget how Steven was concerned about Joey and myself being okay,” Richards added. “He really wanted to make sure we weren’t scared, and so he hung out with us and started telling us ghost stories to distract us from the hurricane. And seriously, it worked, because I was more afraid of the ghost stories than I was of the hurricane.”
Richards also got to bond with Richard Attenborough. The late actor, a legend of the British film industry, played the children’s grandfather John Hammond in the movie. “Richard had such a great sense of humor, and I had so much fun with him on the days we were on set together,” Richards told the Daily Mail.
Filming the big dinosaur set-pieces was memorable as well. “On my birthday, we were doing the kitchen scene, and I was supposed to run into the freezer,” Mazzello told Entertainment Weekly in 2013. “I was chased by the raptor, and they had him on wheels. They were rolling after me, and I was supposed to go left, and it’s supposed to go right. The one time I go left, I turn around and it’s following me left, and the claw just hit me right in the head.”
“I had a nice bump on my head after that,” Mazzello recalled. “But it was a good birthday. Actually, the hurricane happened on Ariana’s birthday. So either natural disasters or we were getting beaten up by dinosaurs, but there was always something going on on our birthdays on that shoot.”
“There’s that part where I’m supposed to run towards the freezer and save my brother from the raptor,” Richards told Entertainment Weekly in the same piece. “We had done one take, and Steven came over to me and was able to let me know, “Okay, Ariana, I want you to really let loose for this.” So I did. I really went berserk, just totally hysterical. And that was the shot he used.”
When Jurassic Park came out in the summer of 1993, it was instantly a massive hit. On its opening weekend, in fact, it made close to $50 million. Moviegoers queued around the block to see it, but even then they were occasionally disappointed as seats sold out quickly. And very famous royal happened to turn up for the U.K. premiere as well.
Princess Diana attended, in fact, and Richards got to meet her. “I had such vivid memories of that great night,” Richards told the Daily Mail. “Steven stood next to me at the premiere, and just before Diana arrived he handed me the bouquet of flowers and said to me: ‘Now Arianna, out of the lot of us here you are the only one who will remember the right thing to say to the princess.’”
Suddenly Richards and Mazzello were famous. “It was wild. I couldn’t leave the house. I would be walking down the street, and I would get mobbed,” Mazzello told Entertainment Weekly in 2013. It just showed what a huge success Jurassic Park had been. In the end, it would bring in around $900 million across the globe.
Mazzello and Richards were in a good position, then. They were old enough to appreciate the success they’d achieved and young enough to still have time to figure out their life goals. Richards wanted to become an artist, for example. In fact, even while on the Jurassic Park set she’d demonstrated her interest in painting.
While working on the movie, she was also experimenting with art. “I wanted to boil down the whole experience of Jurassic into my art. I painted an image of me from the Jell-O scene,” Richards told People in 2013. The scene in question is one of the film’s most famous. “I ended up presenting Steven with one of my paintings at the end of filming. He still has them.”
Mazzello was also interviewed by People in the same article, a special “where are they now” piece for Jurassic Park’s 20th anniversary. By contrast, he had remained in the acting profession and appeared in films such as Shadowlands, The River Wild and The Cure. And he also had plenty of praise for Spielberg.
“My time with Steven on Jurassic Park affected where I wanted to go to school and what I wanted to do with my life,” Mazzello said. He also revealed something about the famous director. “Steven wrote me a recommendation for USC to go to film school. Believe it or not, I got in,” Mazzello explained. “He’s been there for me throughout my life whenever I really needed him.”
Moreover, the relationship between Mazzello and Spielberg also led to Mazzello being cast in Spielberg’s The Pacific, despite the director not knowing that Mazzello was still an actor at the time. “He actually told me that on the day that I showed up for my fourth audition for this thing that he looked at his paper and saw my name and that was the first time he even knew I was auditioning for this,” Mazzello informed People in 2010.
Mazzello also said there was no favoritism involved in him being cast. “When I got in the room, yes, he gave me a hug, and it was great to see him. But then I knew it was down to business. Steven Spielberg cares too much about his projects to do any actor a favor when $200 million is on the line,” Mazzello recalled.
“I knew he was going to give me a fair shot, I knew that he had known me from the past and had hired me before, so I probably had a leg up there,” Mazzello continued. “But then again, I also started thinking, ‘If he doesn’t hire me, then does that mean I’m no good anymore? Or does he think I stink now?’ All those thoughts went through my head. Luckily, hey, he liked what I did.”
Mazzello has now racked up a long list of notable acting credits. For example, in 2018 he appeared in the Oscar-nominated Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, playing John Deacon alongside Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. That same year, Mazzello talked about his career with HuffPost and detailed how he’d come to be cast in Bohemian Rhapsody.
“I was in London when it was announced that [my co-star in The Pacific] Rami Malek was going to play Freddie. And I’ve known Rami for years, so I thought that was really cool,” Mazzello said. “I was with my manager, and he was like, ‘Hey, I actually know one of the producers. Let’s go and see them, because they’re in London.’”
“[My manager] sort of did a soft pitch of me at a bar and was like, ‘Hey, you should put Joe in your movie.’ They were like, ‘Oh, do you play guitar?’ And I was like, ‘Not as good as Queen,’ and they were like, ‘OK, hmm,’” Mazzello said. “I was like, well this is never happening, so I basically forgot about it. I appreciate my overzealous manager, but it’s not happening.”
“Then, it was probably about three weeks. I got a text from my manager again saying, “Hey, guess what? They’re interested in you for Bohemian Rhapsody. You look a lot like John Deacon, the bassist,’” Mazzello recalled. “I did a little Google search of John Deacon and then immediately called my mother and said, ‘Mom, where were you in 1983? You have some explaining to do.’” He got the role.
In the HuffPost piece, the interviewer went on to ask Mazzello about some famous Jurassic Park conundrums regarding Tim’s character. For example, why doesn’t Tim hand Ellie Sattler the gun when she’s struggling to reach it, with a velociraptor about to burst its way through the door she’s holding? Well, Mazzello had the answer.
“It was a high-pressure situation,” Mazzello said. “Maybe Dr. Grant didn’t want an eight-year-old boy handling a gun. That’s one theory, but all I have to say is… I wasn’t a complete bozo in the movie. Tim at least understood, ‘Hey, don’t shine the light in the T-Rex’s face.′ So I’ll give myself credit for that one.”
Question number two was: why didn’t Tim climb through the park’s electric fence instead of over it? Mazzello responded with an anecdote. “Do you know what’s funny? I love heights. I’m like the exact opposite, so when we did that scene and we’re supposed to be climbing, I climbed up faster than anyone and got to the top, and suddenly everyone had a freak-out.”
“Steven Spielberg ran out from video village and was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no! Joey, Joey, come down slowly. Slowly drop down,’” Mazzello continued. “Everyone was terrified that I was going to get hurt. And I was up there like it was a jungle gym, having the time of my life.” Poor Tim wasn’t so lucky, however, as he gets electrocuted and needs CPR in the movie.
“I think that maybe when [the filmmakers] made the fence, they didn’t realize how small I was,” Mazzello admitted. “That probably, yeah, I could’ve fit through. But I think in the close-ups, you actually see a different fence. You actually see that it was a little bit smaller. In this day and age, with blu-ray and high definition, yeah, you maybe see some flaws. But let’s suspend disbelief and not try to get too far in the weeds.”
And while Mazzello continued his acting career, Richards developed into an acclaimed painter. It’s in her genes, as it turns out – her grandmother was related to Carlo Crivelli, a Renaissance artist. Richards’ paintings have won awards, including a first place prize in the 2005 National Professional Oil Painting Competition.
Richards discussed her art career with Hey U Guys in 2011. She’d been to college and after that “went right into a very extensive mentoring program with some of the best artists in the country for traditional oil painting.” While she loved her work, she also admitted that “I’m not closing any doors. If you love acting it’s always there.”
Hey U Guys asked Richards about the possibility of her returning for a then-unnamed Jurassic Park sequel. She was uncertain about the prospect. “Steven once said to me that he’d be interested in doing a ‘talking’ movie with me as opposed to what I did as Lex, which was a lot of screaming,” Richards explained. “I’m not totally sure that if Jurassic 4 happens it will be a ‘talking’ movie.”
The film, Jurassic World, finally made it to theaters in 2015. It starred Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard and told the story of what happened when the dinosaur theme park finally re-opened to the public. The movie was a big financial success and went on to post the fifth-highest box office earnings ever.
Another sequel, titled Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, came out in 2018. However, many critics considered to be inferior to both its predecessor and the original movie. “Fallen Kingdom’s first act feels like a Jurassic Park greatest-hits reel… It’s as if the filmmakers are rotely checking off a list of Jurassic Park signifiers, and their apathy is palpable,” read a review on The Verge.
Nonetheless, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was notable for featuring Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, one of the most famous characters from the original movie. B.D Wong, the actor who played Dr. Henry Wu in Jurassic Park, also popped up in both the World movies. So, maybe Tim and Lex could also return one day?
Well, in 2018 Bleeding Cool asked Richards if she would considered returning for another Jurassic Park sequel. “Absolutely,” she answered. “If I get invited to come back to play a role in any of the new Jurassic movies, I would be totally thrilled. I would say yes. Because I love acting, and I’m sure I’ll be doing more of it in the future.”
The same year, HuffPost asked Mazzello if he’d seen the new movies. “I actually haven’t seen the most recent one, I have to be honest,” he admitted. “But I am loving that they are so successful and that a younger generation is really getting into Jurassic Park, because I think it’s such a great franchise.”
“You never know. [It’d be] a fun thing, maybe, if Tim Murphy reappeared, but that is not up to me. So I guess we’ll see what happens,” Mazzello added. At the moment, the third Jurassic World film is scheduled for release in June 2021, but the plot has yet to be revealed. Perhaps it’s time for Tim and Lex to make their grand return to the dinosaur world.