Classic franchises are really making a comeback right now. Last year, Keanu Reeves returned for The Matrix: Resurrections and this past month Tom Cruise wowed the world in Top Gun Maverick. So it’s safe to say that expectations are dinosaur-sized when it comes to Jurassic World Dominion – a movie that unites both the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World trilogies.
Taking place four years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – which saw Isla Nublar destroyed and dinosaurs released into the wild for the first time – Dominion shows us what the world would look like if humans were forced to co-exist with these extinct creatures.
Jurassic World Dominion is monumental for a few reasons, one of which is just how, well, big this film is going.
There are more dinosaurs, more locations and more characters, both old and new. One such new character is Kayla Watts, played by DeWanda Wise (She’s Gotta Have It).
In an interview with Lifehacker Australia, Wise spoke about her experience joining the Jurassic franchise at such a pivotal moment and why her character is one that shouldn’t be ignored.
Kayla is undoubtedly a cool character. She’s an ex-Air Force pilot who has since switched to flying dinosaurs around for a living. She’s cool, calm and collected and is easily up there as one of Jurassic World’s best heroes.
Wise described Kayla as “a requirement”, saying “she’s not an optional character, she has a very specific skill set.”
When Kayla comes across Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) she’s initially hesitant to get involved in their quest.
“When we meet [Kayla] we find her in like this kind of underbelly of dino-selling,” Wise said. “She’s a smuggler, she carries cargo, she doesn’t ask questions.”
“Colin [Trevorrow] and I talked a lot about what it means for someone who is clearly a hero, you know she has a history of heroism and serving in the military, to essentially stray far from their moral compass.”
“I think at the time that we are introduced to Kayla in the story she’s already at the end of the line… She’s a loner, she’s there by herself. She’s emotionally and spiritually ready to go home.”
Owen, Claire and Kayla form a truly incredible trio, but it isn’t long before they cross paths with another iconic trio.
Wise said it was “divine timing” to join the franchise at the same time that Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum were returning as their famous Jurassic Park characters.
Days on set that required the entire group to be assembled were “chaos” according to Wise.
“Bless Colin, thankfully the man has a vision. So he came in with a plan, he knew where he wanted everyone in space, but we still also had a lot of room to play. There was a lot of improvisation.”
The reunion of Dern, Neill and Goldblum on-screen together is a momentous occasion and one that gave Jurassic World Dominion licence to go bigger than ever before. Wise described the whole movie as “epic”.
“It’s an enormous movie. We cover so much terrain,” she said. “There’s (sic) more dinosaurs than have ever been before.”
Surprisingly, the dinosaurs mark some of the only CGI elements in Jurassic World Dominion.
Wise frequently shared behind-the-scenes looks at the production design of the film on her Instagram. The fact that most of the sets were really there for the actors to interact with helped contribute to a “really immersive experience”.
“I think you underestimate the extent to which these films can be practical,” Wise said.
“Colin was very deliberate and really wanted as much as possible to actually be in the living environment.”
“So when folks ask me what it was like to shoot the green screen, really there was only one sequence for me that was green screen. One scene, literally in the entire thing, and the rest of it I had all the toys to play with.”
While Jurassic World Dominion may seem like an ending, for now, Wise is hopeful that the dinosaur franchise has a future.
“I’ve named it Jurassic Universe. I’ve already decided what it’s going to be called” Wise laughed.
“We’ve just opened the dinosaurs out into the world, you know, there’s so much to explore when you really think of it in those terms.”
Jurassic World Dominion opens in Australian cinemas on June 9.