Jurassic Park Interview: Ariana Richards

To celebrate the release of the Jurassic Park trilogy on Blu-ray for the first time this week, we catch up with the actress who played computer whiz kid Lex Murphy

Ariana Richards will forever be known for one of cinema’s most iconic images – the little girl, Lex, peering with sheer horror out of a car window at a tyrannosaurus rex. She was only 14 when she filmed Jurassic Park , and, now 32, she continues to act, but also works as a professional painter.

To mark the release of the Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy on Blu-ray for the first time this week, SFX caught up Richards for a brief chat:

Did you keep any souvenirs from the set?

“I did. One of my special souvenirs is a gift from Steven. It was a hand created-replica by Stan Winston and his team, of the Velociraptor in a glass case. It’s about four feet long. It looks exactly like the velociraptors from the filming. He gave one to each of the cast members and signed them. So that’s a pretty special treasure that I have.”

So we won’t be seeing it on eBay anytime soon?

“Ha ha – no!”

What do you think Lex would be doing now?

“I’m sure she would still be into her computer work. What an interesting character to play, to have all those levels going on. To be a young girl who was knowledgeable, who could show people it was okay to be smart. It was a nice change for me to notice – after reading Michael Crichton’s novel – that the character wasn’t simply the bratty younger sister. They flip-flopped the roles, so that it wasn’t a younger sister and an older brother. So I had a lot more to my role, and it was a lot more satisfying to get to play a heroine.”

It was actually quite radical at the time to have a girl computer geek, wasn’t it?

“It was refreshing, and I’m sure that Steven had a part to play in making that happen. It was nice because I got letters from people who said it was inspiring to see a young girl who had these abilities and was able to save the day.”

Did you ever meet Michael Crichton?

“Yes. The first moment I met him was in an elevator – and my mother and sister were with me – and we were going down the elevator to the set, and I remember looking up at him and thinking how very tall he was. He was about six foot seven I believe.”

Which was your favourite scene to film?

“One of the standout moments for me was filming the kitchen scene with the raptors. It was probably one of my favourite scenes because it has so much intrigue and suspense in it. I’ll never forget that. And to watch it, after the film was complete, it still gave me chills.”

What about the bit where you were swinging from the dinosaur bones?

“Well, a lot of that wasn’t me. I always asked to do my own stunts, but I wasn’t always allowed to. They did have a stunt double who was a gymnast who came in and did some of those bits.

“And remember when my character falls through the crawl space, and grabs the edge and looks up, and the velociraptor is below trying to grab me? That wasn’t me either. I was speaking with the special effects guys a few days ago, and they said they believe that bit may been making movie history in that scene, superimposing my face over the stunt person’s face.”

How about being covered in dino-snot?

“That was one of those of those scenes where I was happy that Steven is a decisive director and didn’t normally do more than three takes.”

Read our Jurassic Park The Ultimate Trilogy review

Check our history of CG FX in the cinema