There’s arguably as much expectations to be found in the kids of “Jurassic World” (read our review) as your latest comic book franchise lead. First cemented by Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards in Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park,” the character types are essential, serving as the audience portal to the wonder and terror of the latest dinosaur outbreak. In “Jurassic World” director Colin Trevorrow’s latest installment, which also stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Jake Johnson, that responsibility falls to young actors Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson.
Simpkins, who recently appeared in “Iron Man 3” as Tony Stark’s sidekick and the first two “Insidious” films, is no stranger to big-budget filmmaking, or even the directorial vision of Spielberg, having worked with him on 2005’s “War of the Worlds” at age 4 (“All I remember from that film is messing up the ferry scene running around the pier,” he says. “No one got mad at me, they just cut and rolled again.”) Meanwhile, Robinson is a newer face on the scene, but is slowly accruing a large body of work in both TV (“Boardwalk Empire”, “Melissa and Joey”) and film (“The Kings of Summer”)
“I think based on those films Colin felt like Ty and I would be right for the tone, just naturally,” Robinson recently explained at the “Jurassic World” Los Angeles press day. “When we came into the audition Colin sat us down and explained the role, and—as we did later on set—we went through and figured out exactly what worked best for those characters.”
“I met Nick for the first time on that audition, when we were going to do a chemistry read,” Simpkins recalled. “We talked for about 20 minutes before we had to go in. Then when we went in there Colin took us into the lines and characters. Then he had us scream at the end.”
Simpkins found out he got the role from his dad, who pulled him out of cello class at school with the news. Robinson got the call from his agent himself, after nervously waiting the week following the audition. “It’s something that’s going to go really well or really badly, when your agent or manager says, ‘Hey, we got all these people on the line so we’re just waiting,’ and then you get a random call from them,” he said.
Roles locked down, Simpkins and Robinson shipped off to Hawaii and New Orleans for four months of principal photography. But the main sequence involving Robinson and Simkin’s sibling characters—a safari within a Gyrosphere vehicle that encounters dinosaurs of varying danger–lasted a rather surprising chunk of that time.
“It was about two months in the Gyrosphere to film it all,” Simpkins explained. “Lining up in the gyrosphere, us getting in, the stuff with us in the fields where the nice dinosaurs are, then us entering the restricted area. We did stuff on a gimbal that took time as well.”
With their ages lining up as 8 and 2 respectively when “Jurassic Park” arrived in 1993, it’s a fair question whether Simpkins and Robinson carry a different set of franchise touchstones than lifelong fans of the series. But both of their tastes remain vintage: Simkins named “Star Wars” as his number one franchise and acting goal, and Robinson pointed out that “anything with Amblin attached just has a very special meaning attached in my heart.”
“If I was to pick my favorite franchise though, just to personally think, ‘Wow, I got to there, I can die happy, fuck the rest,’ mine is probably ‘Indiana Jones’,” Robinson said. “I saw the first film when I was no older than 10, and he was always my favorite dude.”
On that note, Robinson also offered up an interesting anecdote from when the “Jurassic World” cast–including rumored Indiana Jones replacement Chris Pratt–got together with Steven Spielberg for a photoshoot. “I remember Steven was there and Ty, he asked him, ‘So when are you going to be doing the new Indiana Jones?’ And we were all standing right there and Chris Pratt’s whispering and nudging Ty, like, ‘Shh, shut up, stop asking.’ “
Next up Simpkins can be seen reuniting with director Shane Black for “The Nice Guys”, while Robinson, after appearing in the film adaptation of “The 5th Wave”, is considering studying the intersection of film and American history at NYU. “I deferred a year and then something just always came up, but now it seems like it might be the right time to take a step back for a minute,” he said.
Their contribution to the “Jurassic Park” series is a lasting and worthy one however, and you can see the full, finished result when the film is released in 2D and IMAX 3D theatres this Friday, June 12th.