Marshall is one of the biggest producers in Hollywood. Name a movie
you loved from about 1978 to today and odds are Frank had a hand in
it. Back to the Future, Poltergeist, Indiana Jones, Who Framed Roger
Rabbit, The Sixth Sense, Gremlins, The Goonies, The Warriors and, of
course, the vastly underappreciated Arachnophobia to name a few.
and Jurassic Park. Can't forget that one.
one of the cornerstones of Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment
Marshall has made movie magic for decades and he's still going
got to sit down with Frank and his producing partner Patrick Crowley
on the Hawaii set of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom last summer. To
set the tone, this interview was conducted in a sweltering tent on a
dock somewhere on the west coast of Oahu while the crew was prepping
a shot of Chris Pratt on a big truck racing up the dock with fire
a bad gig, right?
this interview was conducted by me and Slashfilm's Peter Sciretta. We
had just come from the practical effects tent where we got to
interact with real, breathing, actually-there dinosaurs. There was a
full sized Blue, Pratt's best friend Raptor from the last movie, and
a fully articulated baby Stegosaurus head. The puppeteers were there
working the practical effects so a baby Stego sniffed me and nudged
my hand with its snout and Blue (drugged out with a tranq dart and
lying on his side) groggily looked me over, mouth opening and chest
expanding as it took deep breaths.
short it was just about the coolest thing ever for this '80s kid who
grew up worshipping at the altar of practical effects. Peter was on
Cloud 9, too, so going into this interview we were gushing about
seeing actual real life dinosaurs. That's where we start, we talk
about using practical effects versus CGI, we
talk about a ton of stuff: animatronic dinosaurs, the new characters,
working with JA Bayona and why they chose him to direct this sequel,
how Steven Spielberg helped them solve a location issue, the villains
(both human and dino) and a bunch of other stuff.
the chat and stay tuned. I'll be dropping new on-set interviews all
week as well as a big, detailed set report from my time in Hawaii.
Spoiler alert: I saw dead dinosaurs, “live” dinosaurs, brought
Chris Pratt some Guardians of the Galaxy-themed Doritos and took a
stroll down down the wrecked main street of Jurassic World.
Marshall: Where's Pat? My partner in crime.
Vespe: I don't know. I think he ditched you.
Marshall: That's usual.
Vespe: Yeah, so those animatronics were unbelievable.
Marshall: They're pretty cool.
Sciretta: Seeing that Raptor, Blue, I mean, I almost cried. Like
really it's incredible.
Marshall: Yeah, it's, I mean, the obvious thing is it's so much
better for the actors when they have something to act with. Yeah.
It's that delicate balance. Sometimes the CG is better. It
flip-flopped. It used to be animatronics was always better. And now
it's like this. But you like to have something you can touch.
Sciretta: I think it's a thing that like… at least from what I've
seen on set visits and the final product is like when there's
something here and even if they do set extension, the something there
helps the set extension.
Marshall: Yeah, absolutely.
Vespe: You're a magician, Frank, so you know it hides the trick.
Marshall: Absolutely. That’s why you want as many solid pieces that
take your eye away from what's not real and not solid. So you're
Vespe: Misdirection, absolutely. You don't know where the seam is.
You might know that there's an illusion and you can't figure out how
they did it.
Vespe: Growing up, that's what I loved. I loved not knowing the trick
and then finding out about it. You know, like finding out about the
bladders in American Werewolf In London and how that's what made the
skin puff out and stuff like that.
Marshall: Yeah. Well Gremlins, I mean, we had all kinds of that
stuff. It was really fun.
Vespe: Poltergeist is another great example where there's just every
kind of practical effect in the world used on that movie.
Marshall: Yeah. On that movie, yeah. And we built that backyard with
the mud and all that.
Vespe: And threw in real skeletons!
Crowley enters the tent)
Crowley: Hi, I'm Pat.
Marshall: Here he is. Notice he's much more stylish than me. He's got
the beard, he's got the pants, the hat.
Crowley: I've been sitting out here all day.
Sciretta: So when you were developing this and Colin (Trevorrow) came
in, what was the pitch for Jurassic World 2?
Marshall: Well, I mean, we knew we had to get off the island. I think
he's been thinking about this since Jurassic World, where we're gonna
go in 2 and 3. So it was just a question of how far we were gonna go
in 2. So he kind of had it all sketched out. And basically from what
I remember brought a treatment in. I mean, I don't think we sat down
and talked to him about it.
Crowley: Boy, it was interesting 'cause without revealing too much of
it, he wanted to go much further in the second one. And we all sort
of looked at it and said, I don't think everybody's ready for that.
Pull it back a little. It was just in terms of the length of the time
of the storytelling. He had started here and went all the way to
Marshall: Well we really felt we needed to spend time to get to know
Chris and Bryce again. Where they'd been in three years. Because as
you'll see, I mean, there's some changes... well for her mostly,
there's a big change in her. She's realized that she made a mistake
and that it was her responsibility, not her fault, but she was part
of what happened. So she's now trying to make up for it, trying to do
better and Chris is pretty much still a loner on his own. Not wanting
to deal with anything. So we had to set that up.
Vespe: It must be interesting from your perspective since you not
only have to hear the director's vision, but then also kind of think
about it not only in the wider terms of the franchise, but also how
to actually execute it in real life. So was there a particular
element that you can talk about that got you really excited about his
Marshall: Well, that challenge is at least for me what I get all
excited about is how we're gonna do this. Where are we gonna do it?
How are we gonna do it? And how we're gonna pull it off. And there's
some locations in this one that are... we're not just on stage.
Although on the last one we were here, but we went to New Orleans, so
how do we do it and do the magic trick of having people believe we're
where we are, but do it for the best price? And so it's always
exciting to sit down and say, well should we go here, should we go to
Atlanta. It just so happened that I knew how to get some stages at
(Marshall's longtime partner in crime and wife,
Kathleen Kennedy is spearheading all the Star Wars stuff for
Lucasfilm, which shoots at Pinewood)
Vespe: Yeah. You might have been able to negotiate that a little bit.
Crowley: Or not!
Marshall: (laughs) Yeah, or not.
Vespe: Yeah, that might have backfired on you too.
Marshall: Yeah, it could have, yeah. So it all worked out very well.
Crowley: It was very interesting 'cause then Steven got into the mix.
And with Steven would sort of go, 'cause we're on Isla Nublar, which
is off the coast of Costa Rica. And it was like okay, well you need
to get from there to somewhere in a relatively short period of time.
So we had kind of a conceit about the location where we were gonna
end up. And Steven goes “no, it's not possible. You can't do that.”
Marshall: It's not possible to do it in that amount of time.
Crowley: In the amount of story time that we needed to have.
Crowley: They get on a boat in order to get off and that's what we're
doing here. And so they need to get on a boat and then they gotta get
somewhere. Rather than making it a movie about traveling on a boat,
which is not very exciting, you needed to get to the new place.
Vespe: And it couldn't have been like “Two months later...”
Crowley: Yeah. And Steven was going, well… if you wanna get to, we
end up in Northern California, I think if you wanna get to Northern
California that's gonna take too long. So then we were putting out
scouts into Peru and Ecuador and just all kinds of places that we
thought (could work.)
Marshall: I wanted to go to Cabo San Lucas. (laughs)
Crowley: It just didn't work for the story. So then you go “Okay,
how can we make those stages at Pinewood work?” And we essentially
came up with a really good idea.
Marshall: Yeah. And I think that on this one we do have a lot more
interior scenes than we've had on any of the other movies. So it made
sense to be on a soundstage. A big soundstage, which Pinewood was
Vespe: But, I mean, that's kind of in the DNA already of the
franchise, 'cause some of the best moments from the original movie
are like the Raptors in the kitchen.
Marshall: Yeah, in the kitchen, yes.
Vespe: Stuff like that and my understanding is that this one's a lot
Marshall: Well you've seen the photo in what I call the museum.
Marshall: Well that's a huge set. So yeah, so you just take the
elements and you figure out how best to use them.
Sciretta: Who is that in the photo? We don't know much about that
Marshall: I don't know. It's some little girl.
Crowley: She just wandered in. And see the other thing we had to do
is we had to come up with sets big enough because the evil dinosaurs
is bigger than the Raptors in the kitchen. I mean, the Raptors are
like human size and they can sort of scurry around, whereas this one
couldn't. So then the scale of everything had to be bigger to be able
to have those kinds of scenes. To have them work. So somehow there
were things that were driving the design of the movie that we hadn't
Vespe: So do you guys have a like a main threat animal in this one?
'Cause the last few have had like the Spinosaur and Indominus and
stuff like that.
Marshall: Yeah. We have a bad dinosaur that, of course, is released
before it's ready.
Sciretta: Of course.
Crowley: Not quite ready for primetime.
Vespe: Well, if it was then I'm sure it would be sweet and gentle.
Marshall: Yes. No, and to be fair, you guys, the little girl's name
in the movie is Maisie.
Marshall: Maisie, yeah.
Marshall: And her Grandfather... she shares a love of dinosaurs that
her Grandfather has, so that was his museum. And they're connected to
Sciretta: And that's John Hammond's ex-partner?
Marshall: Yes. Yes. We like to play with the adults' and kids' love
of dinosaurs as it exists in the world today.
Crowley: And another thing that was just driven by the story is, as
Frank was saying, we're in rooms, we're in buildings with dinosaurs.
So we're closer to dinosaurs than for a longer period of time than
we've ever been.
Marshall: And they're in cages, but still they're really close.
Crowley: So one of the things that happens is if you go and you
touch a dinosaur, okay, you don't try to touch a digital dinosaurs
'cause it doesn't work. So you then end up with more animatronics
than there's been in 25 years.
Marshall: I think since Jurassic Park. We've got more animatronics
than any of the other movies. Except for Jurassic Park.
Crowley: So and it's an amazing thing to work with Neal Scanlan, who
has done all of the stuff for Star Wars.
Sciretta: How'd you get him?
Marshall: I, you know, just made a phone call. No, breakfast.
Breakfast. We'll work this out.
Crowley: A late breakfast.
Marshall: Maybe that was dinner. Maybe a bottle of wine for that one.
Crowley: But I hadn't worked with him before. You hadn't worked with
him before. But just the stuff that he brought to it. And we saw
stuff like this (snaps fingers). It would be “So, what do you think
it's gonna look like?” “Well, come down to the shop.” And he
would already have done renderings and sculpting and gone through the
whole process. So, Blue as a character, we are so much closer to
Marshall: Yeah. And I have to say the process of the animatronics is
so advanced now from what it used to be. What they're able to do now
is fantastic. And it's so much faster to see what you're gonna have.
So that made it really cool.
Vespe: So, your life size Rex isn't gonna have the shivers like the
old one did?
Crowley: No. 'Cause they were working with hydraulics. And everything
now is mostly servos and stuff like that. And there's guys at
joysticks, but there are still puppeteers making it breathe and
making that head turn and doing all the rest of that stuff. These
guys they're all dressed in black and you know they spend a lot of
time in yoga studios, 'cause they're like that (strikes an awkward
pose) for hours at a time. It's amazing. They're really talented.
Sciretta: And this film introduces a whole new cast of people.
Sciretta: What can you tell us about them? Because we haven't heard
Marshall: You know, it's a great variety. We have a great new cast.
Crowley: Claire basically runs a “How do we protect dinosaurs
Marshall: It's a Dinosaur Protection Group.
Crowley: The Dinosaur Protection Group, the DPG. Okay? And she has
surrounded herself with young, environmentally conscious, hard
working, unpaid people.
Marshall: Also yeah, what do I wanna say? Not Internet savvy, but
yeah, I.T. kind of savvy people who know how to raise awareness
within the right age groups and--
Vespe: Like a grassroots political movement.
Marshall: Yeah, what you would put together for a campaign.
Crowley: So there's Justice Smith, okay, and he plays a character
named Franklin. And he is the essentially the I.T. guy for the group.
Vespe: And we hear reluctant guy, he doesn't seem to wanna come on
Marshall: He's a reluctant adventurer. He loves being there at his
computer and his keyboard, but he doesn’t wanna go out and be
Indiana Jones. He's not interested in that.
Crowley: So, he doesn't like to fly, he doesn’t like bugs, he
really doesn’t like being outside.
Vespe: So, he's the perfect person to go on this adventure.
Crowley: And then there's Daniella Pineda, okay, who plays Zia. And
Zia is a paleo veterinarian. Okay. She's studied it, went to
university, but has never actually seen a dinosaurs yet. Since
they're all on Isla Nublar, this will be her first exposure to real
flesh and blood dinosaurs.
Marshall: She's pretty fiery in her defense of dinosaurs. “Dinosaurs
are like the rest of us and they need to be preserved and we have to
keep him from being, becoming extinct.” Save the gorillas, you
know. Or the dolphins or whatever we're saving this month.
Sciretta: And Colin told me that those two are the secret sauce of
this movie. That's the words he used.
Marshall: Yeah. They're, they keep things moving. They're the
characters you haven't seen and are unexpected. They're… court
jesters, whatever you wanna call it.
Vespe: They can add a little brevity without being too silly.
Marshall: Yeah, exactly. They're believable but they make it fun and
exciting and real.
Crowley: 'Cause then you've got Chris and Bryce and they're basically
still reliving It Happened One Night, which was totally Steven's
idea. We sat down when we did the first one and Steven said, have you
guys all seen It Happened One Night? He said, let's bring some of
Vespe: We want a little of that Clark Gable swagger.
Crowley: A little of that, just that jousting.
Vespe: Can we talk a little bit about JA and how you guys decided he
was the right one for the job?
Marshall: I'll tell you the story.
Vespe: Yeah. Please do.
Crowley: It's what we're here for! (laughs)
Marshall: As a matter of fact… I called him for the first one.
Vespe: Oh yeah?
Marshall: Yeah. I love The Impossible and I love The Orphanage and I
thought “Oh God, he can handle action and characters... who is this
guy?” And so I called him and we met and it turns out he was this
huge Jurassic Park fan. Sort of like Colin. This is before Colin.
we were on the fast track. And he said, “I need a lot of time. I
know what I need. I need my prep time. I have a certain process I go
through and all that. And I just don't think I can do it.” 'Cause
we had that other script. And he said, “I've got this other movie
that I'm thinking of doing, too. So thanks, but no thanks.” And so
I filed that in the back of my brain. And then found Colin.
when we were starting to talk about the next one, I called JA and
Belen and we met in England. At the time they were on World War Z 2,
I guess it was. Right?
Marshall: Yeah, and so he wasn't really available. But we had a
really great dinner. And then you know what happened, he decided not
to do that. They called me and we were still looking for a director.
The good news is Colin and Derek were writing the script as opposed
to the last one, where we didn't have a script we liked. So the
timing worked out perfectly for them to come on and for him to have
the time to do his process.
because it's the middle movie it needs to be a little more
suspenseful and scary and he just seemed to be perfect. It seemed to
be perfect timing for having him come in.
Crowley: And also Colin is very onboard with it, right? So Colin was
the architect of the second one and the third one and he and JA hit
it off, so JA then felt much more comfortable that one, he liked the
original Jurassic World and he knew the direction Colin wanted to go
in, so it wasn't as if it was just some script that he had to try to
adapt. They kind of they shared together. So that was a big benefit
Marshall: Yeah, I think there's a lot to be said for understanding
the mythology and understanding the journey that these characters are
going on and being a fan of the franchise. And that's what Steven
said about Colin, he's the perfect combination of a terrific
filmmaker and a fan. And JA is kind of the same.
Crowley: And also for JA and for us as producers, it was how do you
take somebody who's never had the resources to do a movie like this
and introduce them to him in a way so that he can take advantage of
extensive storyboarding and pre-vis and you can go on location
scouts, you can come to Hawaii twice before you shoot. All those
kinds of things.
then working with our visual effects supervisor, visual effects
producer at ILM to be able to get what you wanted. And it's like you
start out with baby steps and you start to climb the ladder and then
by the time you're ready to shoot, he's still a little raw around the
edges just 'cause he's never commanded that many people, but then
watch him work into it and make allies and build relationships and
he's got his own DP, Oscar Faura, who's done all his movies. And he's
got his editor. So particularly for a guy where English is not his
first language, that's like a big comfort level. A big comfort level
to be able to have that.
Marshall: Yeah, and that's part of our job is to surround him with
the right people to help him get his vision up on the screen. Just
knowing as a director that there are a couple people you gotta have
that are like your security blanket, your DP, your editor... they're
attached at the hip. If you don't have those people with you, you're
gonna be lost. And so we understand that. And we made that part of
what we wanted to do to support him.
Vespe: It also allows him to have that brand that you liked in the
first place. The look, the pacing and tone of his work that made you
want him for the job. That shorthand he already has with those
collaborators that allows him to bring that to this and not trying to
shoehorn him in to another specific thing.
Marshall: Yeah. And without referring to the current events, he knows
that he's coming in to make a certain kind of movie. He's not here to
be the auteur of “Oh I'm just gonna go off and create some crazy
movie because that's what I wanna do.” That has really been great.
It's really been exciting and fun and Colin's been involved and
Steven looks at the dailies and it's so fun for us, because what we
hoped would happen has happened.
Sciretta: And can you talk a bit about how Jeff Goldblum figures into
Marshall: Yeah. From the start Colin wanted him to be the “Uh oh,
danger, I told you from the start” kind of character. As he does so
Crowley: It's not difficult.
Marshall: So when the volcano erupts and suddenly we're faced with
are the dinosaurs gonna become extinct again, do we save them or do
we not? That's the big question that he gets to pose again. And then
we go from there. He's very philosophical in the movie. He doesn't
come on the trip. But he's sort of an observer of what's been
happening. And he speaks about that.
Crowley: He bookends the movie.
Marshall: Yeah, he essentially bookends the movie with “I warned
you and now I told you so. And now we're gonna be in a different
Sciretta: Where is he at in his life now? 'Cause we haven't seen him
in 20 years.
Crowley: He was in Thor, wasn't he?
Sciretta: Oh, I just meant his character. We haven't seen him since
The Lost World.
Crowley: Oh, his character is... what he believed in before, he still
believes in fervently now.
Marshall: Still very much so. He's a scientist/philosopher.
Vespe: Rock star.
Marshall: Yeah, Rock star. Well, he's very senatorial in this one. He
goes to those kind of hearings now and speaks about science and the
world and how science can affect the world and how we have to be
careful what we wish for. Or just to be able to do something doesn't
mean it's right.
Sciretta: What can you guys tell us, I know you're probably gonna be
very vague, about the human bad guys in this?
Marshall: They're very complicated.
Sciretta: We like complicated villains.
Marshall: These movies are about... there's greed and that enters
into it always, but there's the question: do you wanna have dinosaurs
or do you not believe in us creating them? It's the whole cloning
debate. There are two people on either side and yeah, we should have
them and we can use them in real life for things and people should be
able to go to the zoo and see a Tyrannosaurus Rex. There are other
uses for them probably. So…
Crowley: It's like in the last one, Simon Masrani moved things
forward in terms of like genetic manipulation because he actually
seemed to be relatively pure of heart. He wanted to provide
entertainment for people. And we've evolved to and he was then a semi
innocent villain. Whereas now you have guys who are sort of looking
at what are the financial potentials? And then you have guys--
Marshall: How can we profit from this?
Crowley: How can we profit from it? And then you have guys who are
just real tough eggs.
Vespe: The Ted Levine character, right?
Crowley: How'd you come up with Ted? He's so great in the movie. And
Ted's just one of these guys that you go, if it came down to it I
wanna make sure he's on my side.
Crowley: And then you get Toby Jones. And Toby Jones can be anyone.
He's the biggest chameleon of all. And Rafe Spall is just a great
Marshall: Yeah, Rafe's great. And Lockwood is not a villain I
Crowley: No. He's no more of a villain than John Hammond was a
Marshall: Yeah. So it's complex I hope.
Marshall: All right? You good?
Vespe: I think that's all I need. Thanks very much.
Sciretta: Yeah, we won't take any more of your time.
Marshall: We'll meet you again in a tent somewhere.
Sciretta: All right.
Marshall: Eric, Peter, great to see you guys.
Vespe: Thanks, Frank.
Sciretta: Thank you.
Thanks for reading this first interview! I'll have more details from the set visit hitting tomorrow. On the docket are lengthy interviews with Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, director JA Bayona and newcomers Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda as well as a more detailed piece on my adventures wandering the tropical set. Stay tuned!