If you’re a real movie nerd, chances are you get as excited when you see a supporting character with a familiar face as you do when one of your faves is the star. Let’s celebrate these heroes!…
Back in the early World Wide Web days, defunct site Fametracker had an awesome column called “Hey, It’s That Guy!”, celebrating character actors and actresses from all your favorite things. So we’re showing our love for that idea every so often in our Friday Five by doing the same, and this week we’re taking a trip all the way to Isla Nublar! There are some great character actors in Jurassic Park, including some major names who started out as character actors – both Jeff Goldblum and Samuel L. Jackson had tons of credits under their belts before they became big-name stars. We’re shining a light on three adults, and those two precocious kids whose faces you might not recognize these days… let’s see!…
Wayne Knight (Dennis Nedry)
Chances are if you don’t immediately associate Wayne Knight with shady con man Nedry in Jurassic Park, then his face conjures just one word: “Newwwwwwman.” While arguably best known as Jerry Seinfeld’s arch-nemesis on the eponymous sitcom, the actor also had a significant role in 3rd Rock From the Sun and has appeared in tons of films including everything from Space Jam to Punisher: War Zone. Most interestingly, however, is his prolific voice work, which includes a whole host of Disney and Pixar titles like Hercules, Toy Story 2, Tarzan, Bee Movie, Kung Fu Panda… it’s a long list! Oh, and if you’re a late-80’s-early 90’s kid, you probably first saw him on the seriously underrated PBS math series Square One Television.
B.D. Wong (Dr. Henry Wu)
Until Jeff Goldbum makes his triumphant return as Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom later this month, there was just one actor from the original trilogy to make the jump from Park to World: B.D. Wong, who returns again as dino geneticist Dr. Henry Wu. Wong is both a celebrated stage actor (he won a Tony and more for his Broadway debut in M. Butterfly) as well as one of the most prolific Asian-American actors working today, appearing in scores of TV and film projects. Among his best-known roles are the voice of Captain Shang in Mulan and its sequel; the enigmatic transgender cyber-terrorist Whiterose in Mr. Robot; and most recently, Bat-villain Hugo Strange in Gotham.
Miguel Sandoval (Juanito Rostagno)
The actor who portrays the proprietor of the amber mine that delivers the precious DNA samples for Jurassic Park’s prehistoric population is a familiar face if you were a film fan in the 80’s and 90’s; he got his start as a featured player in director Alex Cox’s films including Repo Man, Straight to Hell and Sid and Nancy, eventually appearing in numerous films from Do the Right Thing to Clear and Present Danger. He’s everywhere on television, as well; while his biggest recurring role was on the supernatural-tinged procedural Medium, he’s turned up in key episodes of The X-Files, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Alias and many more.
Ariana Richards (Lex Murphy)
So, granted, the two kids in Jurassic Park are pretty major roles, which is not the same thing as a “Don’t I know you?!” supporting player. Still, it’s always interesting to see where young actors turn up in subsequent years, and in the case of Ariana Richards she probably gave her other most recognizable performance before Jurassic Park; you might remember her as Mindy, the girl with the pogo stick who inadvertently brings the graboids to town in Tremors. After her cameo as Lex in the sequel The Lost World, she appeared in several 90’s shows including Boy Meets World and The Golden Girls; in adulthood, Richards has pivoted away from acting to focus on an art career.
Joseph Mazzello (Tim Murphy)
The smallest of the imperiled guests of Isla Nublar has amassed an interesting CV over the years; prior to working with Spielberg, he appeared in the kids’ fantasy flick Radio Flyer alongside an also pint-sized Elijah Wood. Mazzello also cameoed in The Lost World, and then only made periodic film appearances while pursing a film degree at USC; in the last decade, however, he’s resurfaced both on TV (HBO’s The Pacific; Justified) and film (The Social Network; G.I. Joe Retaliation). And if you thought that one guy (not Rami Malek, obviously!) in the recent trailer for the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody looked familiar, you’re right: Mazzello portrays Queen’s bassist, John Deacon, in the film due for release later this year.