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Early Roles That Jurassic Park Actors Would Like You To Forget About

With the release of "Jurassic World Dominion," the saga that began in 1993 with Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" has reportedly reached its conclusion (at least for now). Over the course of 29 years and six films, this series has wowed and enthralled audiences worldwide with a simple, yet enticing premise: what if dinosaurs existed in the modern world? The sheer awe and spectacle that has resulted from this concept has earned the franchise over $2 billion at the box office, in addition to being a cultural phenomenon that's managed to maintain its popularity for decades.

Though the star attractions are obviously the prehistoric creatures brought vividly to life by various practical and digital effects, the heart of the respective films lies with their human protagonists. An impressive ensemble of actors have lent their talent to the series over the years, giving us characters to root for as the dinos run amok (whether we're rooting for them to survive or get eaten is on a case-by-case basis). 

While several of those performers are perhaps best known for their contributions to this franchise, all of them have earlier work that they are likely not nearly as proud of. As the old adage goes, "you've got to start somewhere," but let's just say that they've all come a long way from their humble beginnings. Here are older films from the stars of the "Jurassic" saga that the actors involved would probably be happy to forget about.

Sam Neill in The Final Conflict

Though born in Northern Ireland, much of Sam Neill's filmography has found him working steadily in New Zealand and Australia. Prior to playing the central character of paleontologist Alan Grant in the original "Jurassic Park," Neill had already spent several years making a name for himself in projects as varied as "Possession" and "The Hunt for Red October." However, one of his earliest starring roles was one that, while part of an esteemed franchise and successful at giving him exposure to a much wider audience, is potentially not one of the actor's favorite films. That would be the third (and despite the title, not final) installment in the "Omen" trilogy, known in most regions as "The Final Conflict."

After the acclaim that the first entry had garnered (less so for "Damien: Omen II") the idea of casting Neill as a now adult version of Damien Thorn, who is serving as U.S. ambassador to Britain, is certainly an intriguing one. Alas, the film sits at a measly 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, and though Neill got positive notices for his performance as the grown-up Antichrist, most critics lambasted the film as being both overly gory and dreadfully dull. In his review for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert called it "a growing disappointment, as we realize that the apocalyptic confrontation between the forces of good and evil is being reduced to a bunch of guys with Italian accents running around trying to stab Damien in the back."

Laura Dern in Grizzly II: Revenge

An Oscar-winning character actress, a "Star Wars" veteran, and an occasional muse for David Lynch, it often seems like Laura Dern can do it all. She brought a wide-eyed exuberance and a thoughtful toughness to the role of paleobotanist Ellie Sattler in "Jurassic Park," returning to play the character in the third and sixth entries. But although she already had a number of respectable credits to her name before joining the franchise, one of her first is decidedly less so. In fact, it's a film so plagued with issues that it very nearly didn't come out at all, which would likely have been to Dern's relief: 1983's "Grizzly II: Revenge."

The film sees Dern paired up with fellow future stars George Clooney and Charlie Sheen, though none of the three are on screen for more than a few minutes. They are mere cannon fodder for a largely generic "Jaws" ripoff that sees an angry bear mauling various campers as revenge for the death of her cub. Though the film has a certain cult status due to not being released for almost 40 years because it was unfinished, the fact that it clearly never got the work it needed makes it seem more like a collection of footage than a coherent narrative. Variety observed in its review that it "clearly wouldn't have amounted to much more than formulaic genre fodder in the best circumstances," with "hackneyed dialogue hampering otherwise passable principal performances."

Jeff Goldblum in Transylvania 6-5000

One of the most colorfully memorable characters in "Jurassic Park" is chaotician Ian Malcolm, portrayed by the ever-eccentric Jeff Goldblum. Already beloved for his oddball performances in films like "The Fly" and "Earth Girls Are Easy," the actor brought his trademark stammering smarm to the role, and in the process managed to turn the bespectacled character into an accidental sex symbol through sheer improvised charisma. Unfortunately, not every film is worthy of the star's particular eccentricities, with one such early example being the horror-comedy dud "Transylvania 6-5000."

With a paltry Rotten Tomatoes score of 18%, the film is barely remembered today, and with good reason. It follows the exploits of two journalists (played by Goldblum and Ed Begley Jr.) who travel to the titular locale in order to find evidence of mysterious creatures, including a real-life Frankenstein's monster. Despite the presence of a talented comedic cast that also includes Carol Kane, Geena Davis, Norman Fell, and Joseph Bologna, the attempted humor here falls consistently flat, and most of the actors seem either disengaged or uninspired by the material. In his review for Film Frenzy, Matt Brunson puts it as succinctly as he can: "The anti-"Young Frankenstein," "Transylvania 6-5000" might be the worst horror-comedy ever made."

Richard Attenborough in Doctor Dolittle

The late Richard Attenborough is an absolute legend both in front of and behind the camera. A few years before collaborating with Steven Spielberg on "Jurassic Park," he actually competed against him at the 1983 Academy Awards in the Best Director category (Spielberg was nominated for "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," while Attenborough ended up winning for "Gandhi"). Outside of his many directorial credits, Attenborough had been an impressive performer for decades, with memorable roles in such classics as "The Great Escape" and "The Flight of the Phoenix." Yet one film from that era that serves as a surprising blemish on his record is none other than "Doctor Dolittle."

This inclusion may surprise some, as the Rex Harrison-starring adaptation of the popular literary character was in fact nominated for Best Picture at the 1968 Academy Awards, even winning statues for Best Special Effects and Original Song. Despite this, the film sits at an underwhelming 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, with several modern critics calling it one of the worst Best Picture nominees of all time. Even at the time, reviews weren't exactly generous, with the New York Times lamenting, "The music is not exceptional, the rendering of the songs lacks variety, and the pace, under Richard Fleischer's direction, is slow and without surprise." Though Attenborough was praised for his supporting part as Albert Blossom, it's hard to imagine that this was among his most fondly remembered roles.

Samuel L. Jackson in Loaded Weapon 1

Though one might not have guessed it from his supporting role as Arnold, a perpetually chain-smoking park engineer, Samuel L. Jackson has emerged as easily the biggest star to come out of the original "Jurassic Park." It was only a year later that he played Jules Winnfield in "Pulp Fiction," a role that would define his career, and he has since gone on to become one of the highest-grossing actors of all time. He's worked with some of the most talented directors in Hollywood, has been a staple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since its inception, and has over 200 acting credits listed on IMDb. So what early role could potentially embarrass this legend of the silver screen?

Ironically, the film in question was actually released in 1993, the same year as "Jurassic Park." The culprit is "National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1," a tired spoof of buddy cop movies that aspires to the level of the "Naked Gun" series but falls far short of the target. Jackson plays the Danny Glover equivalent opposite Emilio Estevez's Mel Gibson stand-in as the two try and fail to carry a series of painfully unfunny jokes across the finish line. The Orlando Sentinel was fairly vicious in its appraisal of the film, stating that "the spoofs are so stupid and off-topic that at times you think that maybe the writers never even saw these films, but just studied the trailers."

Julianne Moore in Body of Evidence

Over the course of nearly four decades working in film and television, Julianne Moore has seen some considerable highs and some questionable lows. It still seems fairly early in her filmography when she was introduced as Ian Malcolm's girlfriend, dinosaur enthusiast Sarah Harding, in "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," though in fact it was only a year before she received her first Oscar nomination for "Boogie Nights" (she would later win in 2015 for "Still Alice"). While the first sequel was not nearly as beloved as its predecessor, Moore was able to ground it as one of the only characters genuinely concerned about the fate of the creatures populating the island. Fortunately for her, this was far from the worst film she made in the '90s.

That honor would go to the would-be erotic thriller "Body of Evidence," which sees Madonna playing the lover of a recently deceased billionaire who left his money to her, leading to a variety of legal troubles and preposterous sexual escapades. The filmmakers were clearly inspired by "Basic Instinct," but conjure none of that film's style or substance. In addition to Moore, a talented ensemble that also includes Willem Dafoe, Joe Mantegna, and Frank Langella is thoroughly wasted, as the Austin Chronicle notes that "none of the players here is able to ignite a spark or convince us of their passion. They all seem bland and flat, emotionally distanced and curiously frumpy."

William H. Macy in Psycho

Before he became known as the scrappy, alcoholic Gallagher patriarch in "Shameless" (a role that has proven extremely profitable for the actor), William H. Macy was known for playing a variety of nebbishy, down-on-their-luck characters in films such as "Fargo" and "Magnolia." In that same timeframe, he brought a similar energy to the role of Paul Kirby in "Jurassic Park III," playing a father who initially seems wealthy and successful, before revealing this ruse as a tactic to coerce a reluctant Alan Grant to guide them to Isla Sorna in search of their missing son. Despite his duplicitous ways, Macy gives Paul the soul of a man who will do whatever he can to keep his family safe. The film as a whole might be among the most poorly-reviewed in the "Jurassic" saga, but in terms of Macy's career, it doesn't even come close to "Psycho."

Gus Van Sant's misguided shot-for-shot remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic holds a precarious 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it's easy to see why. The film swaps out the actors and adds color to the proceedings, but otherwise feels like a pointless thought exercise that can't hope to match the quality of its source material. Nor does it offer much of interest on its own merits. ReelViews critic James Berardinelli concludes as much, stating that "anyone familiar with the plot will be concentrating on technical details and scene deconstruction, an approach that automatically distances the viewer from the characters."

Chris Pratt in Movie 43

It's not hard to see why Chris Pratt was chosen as the lead for Colin Trevorrow's soft reboot, "Jurassic World." He had made waves as a breakout star of Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" the previous year, which showcased his capacity to balance the goofy humor he was previously known for with a certain leading man charisma. Though the role of raptor trainer Owen Grady may not be nearly as funny as Star-Lord, Pratt was still able to bring a strong-jawed sincerity that has enabled him to lead the franchise's most recent trilogy. Back during his more comedic era, however, there is a film that I'm sure the star would be perfectly happy launching into deep space.

This is likely true of the entire cast of "Movie 43," a scattershot anthology that showcases a number of big names (including Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Emma Stone, Richard Gere, and many more) engaging in sketches that are frequently far more disgusting than they are amusing. Case-in-point, Pratt's section finds him paired up with then-partner Anna Faris as a man attempting to appease his wife's sexual fantasy of being pooped on. The film was absolutely reviled upon release, with a dismal 4% Rotten Tomatoes score. The Chicago Reader dismissed it by saying, "The most offensive thing about this is the lazy filmmaking; every shot feels like a first take, and the haphazard editing precludes any comic timing."

Bryce Dallas Howard in Lady in the Water

Despite being the daughter of acclaimed actor-director Ron Howard, Bryce Dallas Howard is no beneficiary of nepotism. She has proven herself time and again with performances in films such as "50/50" and "Pete's Dragon," and has even showcased some directing chops after helming episodes of "The Mandalorian" (leading to the suggestion that she could continue with the "Jurassic" franchise behind the scenes in the future). As ruthlessly efficient park manager turned dinosaur preservationist Claire Dearing, the recent "Jurassic World" trilogy has enabled her to show off her range as the character has grown and evolved from film to film. Which is good, because it means that audiences are that much more likely to forget one of her earliest roles.

Though her film debut was in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village," it was actually the pair's second collaboration, "Lady in the Water," that earned Howard the harshest critical response of her career so far, with a mere 25% on Rotten Tomatoes. The modern fairy tale of sorts featured the actress as the title character, a sea nymph lost in an apartment block who hopes to return to her home realm. Despite some admirable attempts at world-building, the film is a tone-deaf, vapid, self-serving mess, wasting the talents of both Howard and co-star Paul Giamatti. As the Guardian puts it, "this pretentious, humorless ... movie is breathtaking in its absurdity."

Vincent D'Onofrio in Bark!

Praised for his intensity and utter commitment to even the strangest of roles, character actor Vincent D'Onofrio has come a long way from his breakout turn as Private Pyle in Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket." Since then he has played everything from an alien cockroach wearing a human suit ("Men in Black") to an emotionally volatile crime lord (Netflix's "Daredevil"). In 2015 he joined the cast of "Jurassic World" as the scheming Hoskins, who sees potential in weaponizing velociraptors for the military. As anyone who's ever seen a "Jurassic" movie before might guess, that doesn't end too well for him. Luckily for D'Onofrio, this was far from his most humiliating film encounter with animals who aren't real.

The dubious prize for that incredibly specific category would go to 2002's "Bark!," a film about a woman (Heather Morgan, who also wrote it) who begins acting like a dog for reasons that are never adequately explained. D'Onofrio has a small role as a mental patient, and gifted actors like Hank Azaria and Lisa Kudrow are also on hand to give their resumes a new low point, but no amount of talent in the world could rescue such an asinine premise. Reel Film Reviews laments that the film is "played for laughs, but there's nothing funny here. Everyone's trying so darn hard to make this thing work, that it comes off as sheer desperation among the actors."

BD Wong in Slappy and the Stinkers

The original "Jurassic Park" actually came quite early in BD Wong's career, though the actor was only featured briefly as the chief geneticist, Dr. Henry Wu. Despite his limited screen time, Wong managed to book himself a fairly lucrative gig many years later, when he found himself as the only returning cast member for the franchise reboot, "Jurassic World," which greatly expanded his character and even gave him some slightly more villainous (or at least opportunistic) qualities. He would go on to reprise the role in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" and "Jurassic World Dominion," netting him more appearances in the overall saga than any other actor. In between "Jurassic" eras, however, Wong did find himself in a 1998 film that would represent the absolute nadir of his career.

The aggressively kid-friendly "Slappy and the Stinkers" boasts an all-too-rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, and fortunately for Wong seems to have been mostly forgotten. He stars as the headmaster of an educational summer camp, presiding over a gang of rambunctious 7-year-olds who concoct a plan to steal a sea lion from their local aquarium and return it to the ocean. What ensues is largely a parade of pratfalls and potty humor, with little redeeming features for any viewer over the age of its primary group of protagonists. As Common Sense Media puts it, "combined with an abundance of fart and poop jokes, it's juvenile humor at best."