When we last saw former Jurassic World operations manager Claire Dearing in the 2015 film of the same name, she had just outrun a dinosaur in high heels while realizing that perhaps letting cloned prehistoric creatures run around in an amusement park wasn’t the best idea in the world. Three years later, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom finds Claire — once again played by Bryce Dallas Howard — working as a full-time activist in charge of the Dinosaur Protection Group, an organization devoted to getting the surviving animals off Isla Nublar and somehow preserving them.
When a volcano threatens the island with destruction and the dinos with extinction, Claire and her on-again-off-again romantic partner, dinosaur trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), must make a choice: should these animals be allowed to survive in a modern world that they are not a natural part of? But when they head to Isla Nublar on a rescue mission bankrolled by billionaire Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), Claire and Owen find themselves part of something more nefarious and dangerous.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom reunites Howard and Pratt’s popular characters under the direction of J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, A Monster Calls), who brings a darker, almost more Gothic sensibility to the fifth segment in the seemingly unstoppable Jurassic franchise. Den of Geek had the chance to speak with Howard about Claire’s journey, the question of what to do with dinosaurs, those damn high heels and where she’d like to see her character go in the next Jurassic World movie.
Den of Geek: Claire is quite a different person in this movie, with a very different motivation. Were you surprised at this?
Bryce Dallas Howard: I wasn’t, because it was absolutely the direction we were going in. Jurassic World was the story of a woman who would totally get disconnected from her own values, and by the end of that movie she had totally reconnected with her own humanity, she’s empowered, she feels that sense of certainty within herself, and this confidence. I think that going into Fallen Kingdom, it was continuing in that direction.
I did some research and talked to some folks who had gotten to the point of not just being invested in the cause, but actually becoming an activist, where that cause is their life and their career. There’s usually that defining moment where their whole life changes. I think that’s kind of where Claire is right now, and it was so fun for me to get to play a character that does go through those distinctly different phases of her life.
What do you think about the most interesting question the movie poses — should these animals be allowed to exist, or should they not because they’re not really part of the natural order in the world as we have it now?
I think even more than that, I think what’s tricky is that these animals are being left on Isla Nublar, not being interfered with, and that’s all fine. But then there’s this extinction level event happening and these dinosaurs will be wiped out forever. That’s when it starts to get really tricky, really complicated. Do we let an extinction level event, or do these animals deserve the same protections as any other endangered species? And I have to say, I believe yes.
I think it’s actually the fear of the technology getting out is a whole other level of danger in this movie. But if you think about it, in the world we still have lots of dangerous creatures. We have lots of creatures who can cause harm to human beings, and yet they have just as much a right to be here as we do. We have a right to protect their life. It’s certainly complicated, and I love that a movie with so many adventurous sequences can leave you with something kind of like a philosophical message.
How was the production different on this one, and what did J.A. bring to the table as a director?
Well J.A. was awesome, and it was really exciting to work with him, because Steven Spielberg hand picked him to make this movie. The studio and the producers really supported him in ensuring, yes this is a Jurassic film, but first and foremost it was a J.A. Bayona film.
J.A. brought the collaborators he’s worked with consistently for his whole career. And really, that’s exactly what it felt like, it felt like a J.A. Bayona film. It was a blast, we had a hell of a time, and I think that naturally there were a lot more action sequences in this film, and so that was something that kind of gave us a job to do. Training for these sequences, and it was just the best.
Did you and Chris manage to find your groove again, and get the banter going again quickly?
Oh, totally, yeah. One of the first scenes that we shot, or two first scenes that we shot together, was actually that early scene at the bar. We spent a lot of time in the week leading up to that talking about what happened to our characters, what was the breakup like, what’s their point of view on this situation. It was important also that it felt really realistic, that we understood where these people were in their lives, and we wanted them to be together, but we got why at that moment, they weren’t. That was something that was really fun to get back into. Chris is the easiest person in the world to work with.
I read that you felt very strongly that there should be a scene where Claire is wearing heels, even briefly, in the early part of the film.
I insisted. I did. Because the moment was there where I was in the Dinosaur Protection Group office, and in the following scene I was in Lockwood’s mansion, and it was originally written for me to wear sneakers, and I was like, no. That’s less believable than dinosaurs being reanimated. This is a woman who outran a T-Rex in high heeled shoes, if she’s going to the office, she’s comfortable in heels. That was something that was really definitely important to me, because it felt really empowering to me personally, getting to play out that journey in the first movie, and the only thing that felt right was having an opening shot with high heels. Then of course when she goes to the island she’s prepared. She knows she’s going to be running around.
Were you surprised at how much coverage that those shoes got in the press surrounding the first film?
How much of the actual stunt work do you get to do, or did you want to do?
I mean, when it comes to a movie like this, I’m a pretty physical person, I really love some physical challenges, I love training, I legit really enjoy that. So part of the fun is being able to do the stunts, but we work very closely with a stunt team and my stunt double on this, who ensure at every single moment that we are completely safe, and completely prepared.
Of course we got a little bumped up on this one, but that’s nothing compared to what the stunt team has experienced, and just trying to figure out certain stunts, there’s that trial and error as well, that we didn’t have to go through because they did. There’s nothing in it that I ultimately didn’t do, but it was done because I had the support of a huge team of professionals.
Where would you like to see Claire go in the third movie?
Well, I mean the serious answer I probably shouldn’t share because I’ve already, emailed everybody in the project. But I think what I really, more than anything, probably want to experience is a scene with Dr. Ian Malcolm. I want Claire and Ian Malcolm to get into an argument, that would be the best, that would be so fun. Because they have differing opinions on this, and different perspectives, and in many ways they’re both right, so that would be very fun.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is out in theaters this Friday (June 22).