There are a lot of dinosaurs in J.A. Bayona's "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom." There are creatures of every shape, size, and tooth configuration running and galloping and chomping. And while Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard gamely return to the franchise, there are also some fresh faces that these sneering beasts chase after.
Of these characters, the breakout is undoubtedly Dr. Zia Rodriguez, a "paleo-veterinarian" played by Daniella Pineda, who gets swooped up in an adventure to save the dinosaurs from the original Jurassic World (there's an impending volcanic eruption, don't-cha-know).
With her distinctive look (glasses! tattoos!) and a take-no-guff attitude, she feels like the closest the franchise has had to a Ian Malcolm-style rock star scientist since he left the franchise (he's back in this, but less chaos-y). And talking with the young actress was a genuine delight. She is just as spirited and smart as the character she plays in the film, and she let us know what her relationship was to the original film, who came up with that "nasty woman" line, and if she's started bothering producers about a part in the next sequel.
Moviefone: What was your relationship with the original "Jurassic Park"?
Daniella Pineda: That was one of the first VHS tapes that I owned -- it didn't belong to my parents, it belonged to me. And I actually ended up breaking that VHS in a VCR probably because the VCR was janky, to be honest, but I like to think it's because we played it so many times.
What was it like when you got the call to be in the new one?
I was in Los Angeles when I got the call. I was in West Hollywood, after having just flown in from New York City, and subsequently found out that my apartment was infested with these giant, cat-sized rats. It was my new apartment. And I was like, "Great, I have to get out of here." And then I found out that I got the job and flew to London that Sunday. So it was all super immediate and crazy. But it was the best phone call that I'd ever gotten in my life.
Was it a secretive process? Did they tell you anything about the movie?
If you're an actor and you pass on a movie like this, you should not be an actor. I would have been an animatronic. I would have been a bush. But the fact that I got a big speaking part was a big deal.
I was going to ask you about the animatronics! Can you talk about what it was like working with those?
I think J.A. Bayona wants things to look real and, you know, we've been in this CGI world for a long time. I really like it when something isn't completely CGI, but rather is enhanced with CGI. And what was so wonderful was that J.A. cares about the performance and having such a lifelike animatronic makes the actor have a better performance -- there's something that's physically there to react to. And the animatronic of Blue was so realistic, it took about 12 puppeteers to operate it from underneath. Its eyes would dilate, is veins would pulse, it would sweat, it had reptile scales. It was the craziest thing you've ever seen.
And you had to run away from imaginary dinosaurs.
Well, I didn't have to too much. Chris, Bryce, and Justin did a lot more. I didn't get so much cardio on this movie. When the dinosaurs were completely computerized, we didn't have anything to react to. But what was cool during those scenes was that we didn't have to play audio, so there were entire scenes I got to do with music playing. J.A. would play a song that would be in relation to the tone of whatever scene we were doing. That made my job a lot easier.
What songs would he play?
One of my favorite movies is "Ghost" with Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg. "Unchained Melody" and also the theme song to that movie, J.A. knows that it makes me cry on command. So that was a bit of a cheat. And he would play those songs for me.You also got a moment that got a big reaction when Ted Levine calls you a "nasty woman." Was that in the script?
I believe that was Ted Levine. I think Ted came up with that. I could be wrong. But I think that was Ted. Ted is brilliant. Of course, everyone remembers him as Buffalo Bill from "Silence of the Lambs." Ted was tremendous. I loved having him on set. Because he's that kind of classic old school actor and, when you're in a scene with him, you have to bring it.
Did you get some good stories out of him?
Oh, big time. He's been around. I love him. His big scene in the movie is my favorite.
Was there any scene you shot that you wish was still in the movie?
Well, it's funny -- I spoke with J.A., our director, last night. And our original cut of the movie was two hours and 40 minutes and we shot so much footage. So there was so much that got cut. The story, as you know, picks up real fast -- the action hits real fast. And there's one scene that I wish had made the final cut where we're with all these mercenaries inside this military truck. And I'm sizing Chris up and saying, "You have good muscle structure, good jawbone, and I don't like men but, if I did, maybe it'd be you." It was a funny scene that gives a little back story about her and where she's coming from. They had to cut that along with a million other characters' cool scenes.
It was so refreshing to see a Latina main character. Did that add any pressure?
Yeah! That's a really interesting question. First of all, I was really excited because -- within the American/Latino demographic -- some of us who have been here for several generations where we're put in this position of not being Mexican enough and not being American enough. I think Edward James Olmos gave a whole speech about it in the "Selena" movie. Check that out.
Shout out! But I'm honored to be in a position that a lot of third generation Mexican Americans share. When it comes to Latinas, I think we need diversity within diversity. I didn't necessarily see myself growing up. I saw a lot of very beautiful, very sensual women, but I didn't really see myself. When it comes to that, I'd like to see the spectrum. So if I get to be a part of that, then cool.
The ending of this movie really leaves things open. Have you started campaigning for your character to return?
I have no control over that but let's just say I'm screaming at them to put me in the next one.
"Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" is in theaters EVERYWHERE starting tonight.
Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that's about to erupt. They soon encounter terrifying new breeds of gigantic dinos while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire planet. Read More