[Note: Some light spoilers for “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” below.]
Yes, the dinosaurs are back. So are human leads Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt). Even the battered island of Isla Nubar is still standing (sort of). But as J.A. Bayona’s “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” unfolds, the second film in the second trilogy about dinos run amok adds in a slew of new supporting characters, all the better to populate a fast-expanding franchise.
But these “Jurassic” newbies aren’t a bunch of random additions to the genetically modified series, but a compelling batch of established and rising stars, amounting to what just might be the most overqualified supporting cast of any of this summer’s blockbusters. When James Cromwell is billed sixth in a cast, you’ve got some deep talent. Add Ted Levine disappearing into a nutty turn as an exceedingly stupid mercenary, and you know there’s been some careful consideration paid to every aspect of casting. Here’s who’s who.
James Cromwell (Benjamin Lockwood)
Remember John Hammond? The father of Jurassic Park? What if we told you the dino-obsessed billionaire and doting grandfather didn’t resurrect all those hallowed beasts by himself? (“Yes, that sounds pretty reasonable,” you’d probably say.) The passing of the original Hammond, lauded British actor Richard Attenborough, in the months before the first “Jurassic World” hit theaters likely opened up a space for another lauded British actor to step in as the elder statesmen behind the franchise. As the big brain (and even bigger pocketbook) of the Jurassic enterprise, it’s easy enough to imagine that the character of “Benjamin Lockwood” was first designed as a way to bring Attenborough back, before real life forced some serious retconning from screenwriters Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly (he even has his own cane that comes complete with a fly-in-amber topper).
Enter Benjamin Lockwood, played with characteristic aplomb by one-time Oscar nominee Cromwell. With over four decades in the industry under his belt, Cromwell is best known for a wide variety of roles across genres and mediums, from his Oscar-nominated turn in “Babe” to his Emmy-winning work in “American Horror Story: Asylum.” You want “gravitas” for your film? Get Cromwell. Other notable work includes “The Green Mile,” “Star Trek: First Contact,” “L.A. Confidential,” and “The Artist,” and those are just his more contemporary roles. The actor is also an outspoken advocate for a number of progressive causes, especially civil rights issues and animal rights (over the past two years, he’s been arrested twice for various protesting activities), which adds a weird tinge to a film that’s partially rooted in exploring the potential rights its own dinosaur stars possess.
Toby Jones (Mr. Eversol)
Jones has long managed to blend the kind of work that gets awards consideration (“Infamous,” “Frost/Nixon,” and “The Painted Veil,” to name just a few) with more blockbuster-powered features (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” plus the “Hunger Games” and “Harry Potter” franchises), and his work in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” amusingly combines the two. As nefarious auctioneer Mr. Eversol (a real character description!), Jones gets to go a bit showy while also infusing his character with actual terror. Eversol is a bad, bad guy, and while he’s not the worst person in “Fallen Kingdom,” Jones gives him a nasty punch that makes him hard to shake.
Geraldine Chaplin (Iris)
There’s legends, and then there’s Geraldine Chaplin. The daughter of Charlie Chaplin and Oona O’Neill has been working since the age of 17, first dancing and modeling, before moving into acting. Her first breakout role was in David Lean’s “Doctor Zhivago,” which earned her a Golden Globe nomination, followed by another nominated turn in Robert Altman’s “Nashville.” That Chaplin pops up in “Fallen Kingdom” as Lockwood’s trusted aide Iris isn’t a shock, as she’s enjoyed a long-term relationship with Spanish cinema (often working alongside her former partner, the filmmaker Carlos Saura), and previously appeared in two of Bayona’s three previous features, “The Orphanage” and “The Impossible.”
Rafe Spall (Eli Mills)
Like Chaplin, Spall is also the spawn of Hollywood royalty, as his father Timothy Spall is yet another beloved British actor (this franchise is suddenly rife with them and their connections). The younger Spall has been acting since he was a teenager, and along the way, has managed to appear in a number of very different projects, from big budget Hollywood fare like “Prometheus” to frequent collaborations with Edgar Wright (including “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead”). Spall is just one of those actors, the kind you always recognize but can’t quite place, perhaps because he seems adept at just about anything (don’t sleep on his work in the very funny “I Give It a Year”). In “Fallen Kingdom,” he steps in as another one of Lockwood’s aides, one who just might have more going on than initially hinted at during his early meetings with Claire.
Justice Smith (Franklin Webb)
Fans of Baz Luhrmann’s now-defunct Netflix series “The Get Down,” rejoice. Smith starred in the ambitious series, set in ’70s-era South Bronx during a period of major musical change, which lasted just one season. In “Fallen Kingdom,” he’s a goofy tech nerd who gets dragged to Isla Nubar by Claire, his boss at a relatively low-fi animals rights organization (read: he’s really not built for running from insane dinosaurs). A former child star known for Nickelodeon series like “The Thundermans,” Smith doesn’t seem to be afraid of taking on giant blockbusters, as he’ll next be seen in “Detective Pikachu.”
Daniella Pineda (Zia Rodriguez)
As self-professed dino vet Zia, Pineda stars as the other young gun that Claire picks to take on her ill-fated mission back to Jurassic World. Pineda is a television regular, thanks to her role in the “Vampire Diaries” spinoff “The Originals,” but she’s also appeared in a number of one-off parts in big comedies, including “High Maintenance” and “Inside Amy Schumer.” Last year, Pineda co-starred in Noel Wells’ winning indie, “Mr. Roosevelt.”
Ted Levine (Ken Wheatley)
Yes, that’s Jame Gumb playing a bonkers mercenary who makes some, well, questionable decisions about how to behave around dinosaurs. The “Silence of the Lambs” star has enjoyed a varied career, moving between film, television, and theater, but will likely always be best remembered by mass audiences for his chilling turn as the serial killer in the Jonathan Demme classic (lotion, basket, etc.). A true character actor and a big-time chameleon, his recent output spawned work in films as diverse as “Bleed For This,” “Shutter Island,” and even “The Fast and the Furious.”
Robert Emms (Tech Merc)
Even the smallest supporting roles in “Fallen Kingdom” feature recognizable talents, like Emms, who doesn’t even get a character name, but will likely look familiar to fans of television series like “Happy Valley” and “Atlantis.” The British actor recently turned up in “Borg vs McEnroe,” and previously had similar supporting gigs in “Kick-Ass 2” (he played Insect Man) and Roland Emmerich’s bizzaro Shakespeare action epic “Anonymous.”
Kevin Layne (Sub Pilot)
Layne’s resume isn’t very long, but he’s already packed the last year with some buzzy titles, including an episode of “Patrick Melrose” and a role as a Resistance Pilot in “The Last Jedi.”
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is in theaters Friday, June 22.