‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,’ directed by J.A. Bayona, is the newest film in the iconic Jurassic Park franchise. This film follows Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Clare Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) once again as they try to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from Isla Nublar before a volcano erupts. Joining the franchise alongside Pratt and Howard is actress Daniella Pineda, who plays Dr. Zia Rodriguez, a paleo-veterinarian whose abilities have never been tested on live dinosaurs.
The Knockturnal: Could you speak a bit about your audition process for this role?
Daniella Pineda: The first time I auditioned, I just went, and I had fun. I didn’t take it very seriously because I thought that there was no way in hell I would ever get a part like this- in this big of a movie. I did it. I forgot about it. Then I got a call I was getting a test offer for the movie and suddenly it all became very serious and very real. I auditioned, I would say, four or five times.
The Knockturnal: What do you admire most about your character?
Daniella Pineda: I think what I admire most about my character is- the field that she’s chosen is a dangerous one, but she loves dinosaurs so much. The fact that she’s seizing the opportunity to immerse herself in such a dangerous mission to do what she loves- to practice medicine on a dinosaur, is very endearing and heroic.
The Knockturnal: For a lot of kids, Jurassic World is their first exposure to the franchise. What are the main differences, in your opinion, that you see between the original films and the remakes?
Daniella Pineda: I think our film holds onto a lot of the classic, nostalgic motifs that so many fans love, but there is a reason why [Steven] Spielberg has trusted J.A. Bayona to continue the legacy and also to give it a new direction. I would say that our film is different in that we live in a different time and there are new issues that are pressing to society. I think that Spielberg trusted J.A. to sort of revamp something that we all love and J.A.’s film is the most mythical and gothic, and larger than life. I think also Spielberg is a big horror movie fan- well, not fan, Spielberg makes the movies, but I think he wanted to see a few elements of that, and J.A. certainly loved that.
The Knockturnal: Did you look at past films to help you understand your character and the world of the movie?
Daniella Pineda: Yes, most definitely. I’ve already seen Jurassic Park like a hundred times, but I watched it again, basically for Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, because I sort of saw my character- yes, she’s a new character to the franchise, but also as a hybrid of the two.
The Knockturnal: Did you feel any pressure taking on a role in such an iconic franchise?
Daniella Pineda: Yeah. I think every actor who does something like this feels a great sense of responsibility to be a component of such a massive legacy. So, I think at first I was afraid, but once I got to set and I met everyone, everyone was super kind, everyone wanted to have fun. Yes, you have to come prepared and you have to work hard, but these are a group of artistic people. I think people, like Chris Pratt and J.A. Bayona, realize that for people like me who are new to the franchise, it can be quite intimidating, but in fact, I didn’t feel that way on set. It was very welcoming.
The Knockturnal: What was it like filming in Hawaii?
Daniella Pineda: It was nice! I’m here now, but I don’t want to leave. On my off days, I got to go to the beach. It was pretty much the sweetest situation an actor could ask for.
The Knockturnal: Without giving too much away, what was your favorite scene to shoot?
Daniella Pineda: I think my scenes with Blue. Those were my favorite.
The Knockturnal: Who was the biggest jokester on set?
Daniella Pineda: I don’t know. That’s a tough one because both me, Chris Pratt, and Justice Smith are all pretty goofy. I guess I’ll have to say, Pratt. We were very much enjoyed pulling pranks on each other, joking around, and goofing off between scenes. I think we were pretty good at making each other laugh.
The Knockturnal: Do any specific pranks stand out?
Daniella Pineda: Believe it or not, all good pranks were done on Justice Smith, by our director J.A. Bayona. To get a visceral reaction from Justice, he often wouldn’t tell Justice when things were about to happen to him. I won’t say what they are, but if you watch the movie you can take a guess, which moments they are.
The Knockturnal: You said before your favorite scenes to shoot were your scenes with Blue, and obviously the dinosaurs aren’t real, but can you talk a bit about how that process is: acting “with” dinosaurs, but not with dinosaurs?
Daniella Pineda: Most of my scenes were not with CGI. Most of my scenes were with the animatronic Blue. She felt very real. She was operated by about twelve men, twelve puppeteers beneath her. She had the twelve puppeteers operating her and her eyes would dilate, she would sweat, her skin felt like reptile skin. I didn’t really feel like I was working with something that was fake. I felt like I was working with something that was a real animal, and that just made my experience so much more enriched. All the times I had to work with CGI- it’s not as tough as people say. J.A. he’s aware of how to make up for something that’s missing and he would love to play music. Anytime we had a scene with CGI, J.A. would love to play a song from maybe a movie he’s done or a movie from elsewhere, to communicate something that he wanted.
The Knockturnal: What do you hope that Jurassic fans take away from this film?
Daniella Pineda: I hope that the message they walk away with is, they have a responsibility to respect and preserve Mother Earth. I think that we live in a very strange time where people are questioning science and people are undermining the environment. I would hope that this movie gets young people thinking about what they could do to help make our Earth a better one because I think our movie is an example of what happens when man gets ahead of themselves and thinks that he can mess with nature.
The Knockturnal: What is your favorite film in the Jurassic franchise?
Daniella Pineda: Jurassic Park.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom premieres in theatres June 22nd.