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Jurassic Park Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

It may have premiered over 20 years ago, but our love for "Jurassic Park" still feels as fresh as ever, and we're happy to revisit the world's most ill-advised theme park each time a new sequel comes out. While the dinosaurs themselves will always grab our attention, they're not the real reason we keep coming back to this franchise. That honor goes to the human characters. They may not provide any groundbreaking movie magic, but they're vivid, funny, tragic, and always riveting to watch. Also, we're pretty sure they all know how to open doors. You're not the only ones who can be good at things, velociraptors!

These films wouldn't be nearly as memorable without their terrific casts. The "Jurassic Park" movies have a deep bench of charismatic character actors, classic stars, and gifted one-scene wonders. The closer you look at this series, the more you realize that basically every scene has someone whose work you admire.

We have a lot of love and appreciation for the collective "Jurassic Park" ensemble — and we especially want to honor those who have since passed away. Their performances here are like fossilized records of all their skills, so let's chisel them out, put them on display, and admire them properly.

Bob Peck as Muldoon

We don't say this lightly: Robert Muldoon is an iconic character. It doesn't matter that he doesn't have that much screen time, because he makes the most of every minute. As Jurassic Park fansite, Jurassic Outpost, puts it: "The socks. The hat. The accent. What did Robert Muldoon have in 'Jurassic Park' that you don't recall immediately?" You simply read the words "clever girl" and probably hear them in his voice.

It's a standout performance by Bob Peck, whose life and career were cut tragically short. Peck died of cancer in 1999 when he was only 53, but he left behind an impressive body of work on both stage and screen. He excelled at both larger-than-life performances (like Muldoon) and plain, nuanced naturalism. He was an actor's actor, one whose influence still lives on in his colleagues. His obituary in The Guardian records the substantial impact he had on his colleagues: "When asked from which actor he had learned the most, Sir Ian McKellen replied without hesitation 'Bob Peck.'" That's quite a tribute, but Bob Peck deserves it.

Richard Attenborough as Hammond

Richard Attenborough was a legend — exactly the right choice for portraying the kindly but hubristic Hammond, who has a twinkle in his eye and a tragic downfall in his future. His decades-spanning career included major theatrical productions and countless classic films like "Brighton Rock" and "The Great Escape." Later on, Attenborough switched most of his professional attention to directing: In fact, he stayed off-screen from 1979 until "Jurassic Park" premiered in 1993. (Since the role of Hammond brought him back to acting, we can only conclude that he also knew how indispensable his performance would turn out to be.) He did a few movies after that, including "Elizabeth" and the remake of "Miracle on 34th Street," where he played one of the world's most charming Santa Clauses, but most of his work stayed behind the camera as a director.

He was excellent with actors, getting high-caliber performances out of Anthony Hopkins in "Magic" and "Shadowlands," as well as guiding Robert Downey Jr. through "Chaplin," which would earn Downey his first Oscar nod. As a director, he's probably best known for the powerful historical biopic "Gandhi." As Attenborough's New York Times obituary explains, he had to fight for 20 years to get Hollywood interested in the film, but he ultimately walked away victorious: "Gandhi" took home eight Academy Awards, including best picture.

Attenborough died in 2014, at age 90.

Jophery C. Brown as Worker in Raptor Pen

Jophery Brown's character in "Jurassic Park" meets an ugly but unforgettable fate when he is dramatically pulled back into the velociraptor pen — and aside from that, there isn't much we know about him. Thankfully, we know more about Jophery Brown himself.

There's a lot to know, because Brown led a fascinating life. He started out in baseball, eventually winding up in the Major Leagues as a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. The Society for American Baseball Research chronicles how he transitioned to professional stuntwork after a possible arm injury. His baseball training came in handy in his new career, as he himself reported: "You're an athlete. You couldn't be a stuntperson without being an athlete. You've got to have a degree of insanity to do this."

Brown turned out to have exactly the right combination of "insanity" and skill. He not only did stunts for movies like "Die Hard," "Lethal Weapon," and "Speed," he also occasionally coordinated the action — and, as we see in "Jurassic Park," occasionally held minor acting roles. It all adds up to an impressive career, one that was sadly cut short by his death in 2014.

Richard Kiley as Jurassic Park Tour Voice

If you recognize the voice of the built-in Jurassic Park tour guide, it's because no one ever sounded quite like Richard Kiley. He was an eminently capable actor, but his striking baritone was one of his best features, and his obituary in The Independent notes that it led to a lot of notable voiceover work — including in nature documentaries. He was the perfect man to describe an incredible dinosaur habitat in part because we can easily believe Hammond would have hired him.

While he shone as a character actor and has several significant films on his resumé, his biggest legacy may be his work onstage. In particular, he played a crucial role in establishing one of the most famous musicals of all, the "Don Quixote" adaptation "The Man of La Mancha": Kiley was the first actor to play Quixote in the show, and he was the first to sing "The Impossible Dream."

That alone would be enough for some artistic immortality, but it's just too hard to narrow Kiley's artistic achievements down to a single role or medium. He died in 1999, carrying on acting even into the last years of his life.

Pete Postlethwaite as Roland Tembo

Pete Postlethwaite – always an excellent character actor — makes a strong impression as big game hunter Roland Tembo in "Jurassic Park: The Lost World." That makes sense: Few actors ever had as much natural presence as Postlethwaite.

Part of that was down to looks. As Guardian writer Peter Bradshaw puts it, "Perhaps no actor's career or industry presence has been defined by his face more than Pete Postlethwaite ... whose rugged features made him every casting director's go-to guy for raw, lived-in truth. The stark planes and bulges of his face created a veritable Easter Island statue of authenticity and plainness." Think of Kobayashi in "The Usual Suspects" or Fergie Colm in "The Town," and you can see him right away.

But to attribute all of Postlethwaite's distinctive charisma to his iconic features risks ignoring his considerable talent — talent that often got the highest possible praise. After working with Postlethwaite on "Amistad," Steven Spielberg called him "the best actor in the world." His fellow actors praised him as both a colleague and a mentor; Daniel Day-Lewis worked with him in theater in the '70s and later told the BBC, "It was him we wanted to be like; wild and true; lion hearted; unselfconscious and deliciously irreverent. He was on our side. He watched out for us." It's hard to imagine a better set of tributes. Postlethwaite died of pancreatic cancer on January 2, 2011.

Robin Sachs as Mr. Bowman

Robin Sachs plays Paul Bowman in "Jurassic Park: The Lost World": He's the man who makes the tragic mistake of landing on the dinosaur-filled Isla Sorna for a picnic.

To longtime TV buffs, Sachs is best known as Ethan Rayne, a recurring character on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Ethan was an old friend from Giles' edgy youth. Unlike Giles, he never grew past his darker side, and he made a riveting, theatrical, and intriguingly chaotic opponent for Buffy and her friends. Really, though, there's no shortage of places to have seen Robin Sachs, especially if you like the science fiction and fantasy genres. He played the sinister General Sarris in "Galaxy Quest," and did extensive TV work on shows like "Star Trek: Voyager" and "Torchwood."

Sachs died of a heart attack on February 1, 2013. His official website (now offline) stated, ""Please join us in raising a glass to Robin – goodbye, dear friend. Thank you for all the laughter and the cookies. We will miss you so very much."

Ian Abercrombie as Butler

Ian Abercrombie's role in "Jurassic Park: The Lost World" isn't exactly substantial — he's John Hammond's butler — but if you've seen more of his filmography, he may still feel familiar. In the 2002-2003 WB series "Birds of Prey," Abercrombie later played one of the most famous butlers of all time, Alfred Pennyworth. Any role that puts you in the illustrious company of actors like Michael Caine, Jeremy Irons, and Michael Gough is bound to help cement someone's reputation. As a bonus, Abercrombie also appeared as a butler on "Desperate Housewives" and David Lynch's "Inland Empire." There was just something about the man that made directors want to put a silver tray in his hands.

There's a lot more to Abercrombie's legacy than that, however. Even if he doesn't look familiar to you, he probably sounds familiar, and that's because of his extensive voice-work on projects like "Rango" and "The Clone Wars" (where he played Palpatine himself). He was also unforgettable in his recurring role as Elaine's boss on "Seinfeld."

Abercrombie died in 2012, at age 77. One of his directors on "The Clone Wars" issued a moving statement (qtd. Legacy), saying, "Though he played a villain on our show, you would be hard-pressed to meet a kinder person ... He loved to laugh and his sense of humor always lightened our record sessions. I will miss his stories, I will miss his performances, and I will miss his contribution to our show."

Geno Silva as Barge Captain

In "Jurassic Park: The Lost Word," Geno Silva plays a barge captain, but his standout role was as the silent, highly capable killer The Skull in "Scarface." You have to have a lot of screen presence to be the guy who takes out Tony Montana. His obituary in The Hollywood Reporter cites a poll that ranked The Skull as one of the all-time best movie henchmen. He was also the kind of character actor who appeared in small roles in countless notable films — "Mulholland Drive" and "Amistad," among others — and showed up regularly on TV and on stage.

Silva died in 2020 of complications from FTD (frontotemporal dementia) and his family requested donations to a cause to support similarly affected people and their loved ones. In a touching Facebook tribute, his colleague John Ortiz called him "an artistic warrior brother ... He was generous, passionate, bold, strong, intelligent, joyful with a regally imposing physical presence which never shut down his magnetic curiosity or spirituality." Clearly, he was magnetic both on and off the screen.

Michael Jeter as Udesky

Udesky coordinates the mercenary crew in "Jurassic Park III," and he offers up a fun blend of competence and a wry acceptance of his own limitations when it comes to dinosaur-fighting. He'll help you out ... but he wants to stay close to Alan Grant while he's doing it. Fair.

That wry humor was key to a lot of Michael Jeter's performances, with his New York Times obituary describing him as having a real gift for playing "nebbishy characters with a Chaplinesque flair." Jeter's skills let him gather up both an Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series, for "Evening Shade," and a Tony Award for "Grand Hotel." He was also highly memorable in films like "The Fisher King" and "The Green Mile," where he played a death row inmate whose cruel, tragic fate is permanently seared into our memories. He could act opposite high-profile, charismatic stars and hold his own, even though his style was completely different.

Jeter was H.I.V.-positive but in apparently good physical health up until his sudden death in 2003, at age 50.

Sarah Danielle Madison as Cheryl

Sarah Danielle Madison only has a small part in "Jurassic Park III" — she's the dig assistant who flirtatiously asks Billy (Alessandro Nivola) for help telling rock apart from fossilized bone — but her relaxed and bubbly presence makes her stand out. It's the kind of minor role that you could easily see as an early part in a major actress' filmography.

Tragically, however, Madison never had that kind of time. Although she had some on-screen success — cast not only in "Jurassic Park III" but also appearing on "7th Heaven" and "Judging Amy" — she started slipping off audience's radar after a final appearance on "90210" in 2011. She didn't get the chance to have a comeback. (It's possible that she might eventually have considered another career: Before she fell into acting, her Today obituary cites, she'd planned to study medicine.) She was only 40 when she died in her sleep on September 27, 2014; her family attributed her death to a possible heart condition.

Julio Oscar Mechoso as Enrique Cardoso

A prolific character actor with a long and healthy career, Julio Oscar Mechoso definitely made better professional choices than his "Jurassic Park III" character, Enrique Cardoso. Let's just say that running a parasailing operation near an island full of dinosaurs — including ones that can fly — isn't the world's smartest business decision.

Unsurprisingly, we don't see Enrique Cardoso after that. But there are plenty of places to see Mechoso: the morally ambiguous crime thriller "Deep Cover," the colorful neo-Western "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," the offbeat comedy "Little Miss Sunshine," and the over-the-top zombie horror "Grindhouse: Planet Terror." He had a distinct gift for turning up in some of our favorite films, and he could always make an impression in even the smallest of roles.

Mechoso also had a screenplay in the works. We suspect it would have been a success, given the tribute to him Andy Garcia wrote for the Miami Herald (via The Wrap): "He shared with us his deepest, most personal soul, always readily available for us to see ... His emotional range as an actor is unequaled. His dedication to research and psychology was something to witness and admire." Those are artistic gifts that would show up no matter what medium he was working in.

Mechoso died of a heart attack in 2017.

Irrfan Khan as Simon Masrani

"Jurassic World" fans will instantly recognize Irrfan Khan as the compassionate and fun-loving Simon Masrani. Like John Hammond before him, Masrani is a tragic figure, but he means well. He makes choices that lead to catastrophe, but at heart, he just wants to have the perfect park. Khan embodies him perfectly in a playful and charismatic performance.

That certainly came as no surprise to Bollywood fans, who had spent years watching Khan's consistent excellence play out on the big screen: His CNN obituary rightly referred to him as an "icon" of the industry. Filmmakers everywhere recognized that Khan had an international appeal, so even if you've never checked out his Bollywood work — and you really should — you may have caught him in "Slumdog Millionaire," "Life of Pi," "The Amazing Spider-Man," "The Namesake," and HBO's "In Treatment." Bold yet nuanced, Khan was often one of the best parts of nearly every movie he appeared in. His absence leaves a major hole in world cinema.

For two years, CNN notes, Khan dealt with a neuroendocrine tumor, which contributed to his fatal colon infection in 2020, at age 53.