This article contains Jurassic World Dominion spoilers.
Were Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) an item in the original Jurassic Park movie from 1993? Fans still debate the issue almost 30 years later. While the characters never embrace with more than a hug over the course of that Steven Spielberg classic, and refer to each other as almost anything other than friends or colleagues, it was long assumed by most who viewed the movie in ’93 that they were a couple. After all, Alan is quite defensive of Ellie when he sees Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm put the moves on the paleobotanist, and Grant’s whole arc is about him realizing he wants to have kids (and Ellie’s watchful eyes judging if he’s made that transition).
And yet, when Jurassic Park III rolled around in 2001, Alan and Ellie were briefly reunited again onscreen… but as estranged friends who can reminisce about old times while Alan watches her raise a young son who he perhaps thinks could’ve been his.
For many fans of the original Jurassic Park, this was seen as an act of betrayal; for others an inevitability given the age difference of the characters and actors. And even Dern and Neill have been more open in recent times about discussing the shifting perception of the characters’ relationship.
During a recent interview with The Sunday Times, Neill said, “I am 20 years older than Laura! Which at the time was a completely appropriate age difference for a leading man and lady! It never occurred to me until I opened a magazine and there was an article called ‘Old Geezers and gals.’ People like Harrison Ford and Sean Connery acting with much younger people… and there I was on the list. I thought, ‘Come on! It can’t be true.’” It was.
Dern added, “Well, it felt completely appropriate to fall in love with Sam Neill. And it was only now when we returned in a moment of cultural awareness about the patriarchy that I was like, ‘Wow! We’re not the same age?’”
Such candid answers about the age-gap between the actors might have caused some to think that Colin Trevorrow‘s Jurassic World Dominion would keep Alan and Ellie as respectful colleagues and old friends, nothing more.
… So what a surprise it was during the first scene they share together where the stage is clearly set for these two to get (back?) together. Now an even grumpier old man, Dr. Grant seems set in his ways when Dr. Sattler wanders into his tent. But then he asks about her kids and she says, “Can you believe they’re both in college?” And what about Mark, the last nameless husband who existed purely as a plot device in Jurassic Park III? “Oh, that’s over,” Ellie says, “I’m living like Alan Grant now.” By which she means having her freedom back. But as Alan says, “It’s awfully lonely.”
Every viewer above the age of 10 should instantly know they’re going to get together, right?
Sure enough, there’s a lot of “will they or won’t they” energy throughout the movie, including when little Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) mistakes them for a married couple. And yet, they doth protest too much, and for much too long, that they’re just friends.
Finally, after surviving another night of dinosaur attacks, Alan Grant forgoes his trusty fedora hat and kisses Ellie on the lips. The moment itself is a little jarring and perhaps would’ve played better immediately after they were nearly devoured by giant locusts, but I guess the filmmakers had to save something for that final curtain call. And, at last, all is right with the world… except for that pesky patriarchy thing.
So does this mean they were a couple in the original Jurassic Park? It is probably up to you, but in my interpretation and head canon, the answer is yes. Now whether Dominion or any of the other sequels are part of that head canon might be a different story…
Jurassic World Dominion is in theaters now.