Obtaining grandiose results often requires monumental efforts that are taken through an elaborate scheme by a multitude of people. That’s certainly the case for the villainous ring in the new sci-fi movie, ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,’ which Universal Pictures is set to release in theaters tomorrow. The highly anticipated sequel to 2015’s record-breaking action adventure film, ‘Jurassic World,’ features English actor Toby Jones as a manipulative supporter of the main antagonist.
The performer’s character, who makes his debut appearance in the follow-up, views the dinosaurs from the title theme park as merely a commodity that can be used to make him money; he initially only sees profits in selling the animals as weapons. While the actor has admitted that he’s drawn to playing characters with questionable morality, he also embraced the fact that his villain in the fifth installment of the ‘Jurassic Park’ franchise does also have a surprisingly layered emotional depth.
Steven Speilberg, who directed the first two ‘Jurassic Park’ movies, and Colin Trevorrow, who helmed ‘Jurassic World,’ returned to the series to serve as executive producers on ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.’ The new epic drama was directed by Goya Award-winning filmmaker, J.A. Bayona, who’s also known for helming such movies as ‘The Impossible,’ ‘The Orphanage’ and ‘A Monster Calls.’ The fourth follow-up in the ‘Jurassic Park’ film series was written by Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, who also worked on the script of its immediate predecessor.
‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ is set three years after its predecessor, which showcased how the new title theme park was destroyed on Isla Nublar. A newly active volcano is now threatening to push the remaining abandoned dinosaurs back into extinction. As a result, activists initiate a rescue mission, in an effort to save the animals that humans worked so hard to bring back to life. A committee of lawmakers holds meetings, which includes testimony from an expert witness, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), about how saving the dinosaurs will affect not only humanity, but the entire world.
Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who ran Jurassic World while it was open, helps lead the save-the-dinosaurs campaign through her new company, the Dinosaur Protection Group. With the help of some of her employees, including Franklin Webb (Justice Smith), a former IT technician for Jurassic World who know now works as the Dinosaur Protection Group’s systems analyst, and Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda), the group’s paleoveterinarian, Claire agrees to take a job that’s offered to her by Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell). The rich businessman was John Hammond (played Richard Attenborough in ‘Jurassic Park’) partner, and the two worked together to revive the extinct species before John started the first Jurassic Park on his own.
Benjamin, who is near death, wants to improve the quality of life for the dinosaurs he helped revive. He has found an island that will be suitable to serve as a refuge for the animals, in an environment that won’t be saturated with tourists. Claire and her team, which includes Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), the former dinosaur trainer for Jurassic World, set out to help relocate as many animals as possible.
Unfortunately, Claire’s mission to save the dinosaurs doesn’t go according to plan. Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), Benjamin’s ambitious right-hand man who hires the team for the rescue mission, and his employees, including Gunnar Eversol (Jones), an auctioneer host at Lockwood Estate, and Dr. Henry Wu (B. D. Wong), the former head geneticist of both Jurassic World and the original Jurassic Park, soon reveal their true plan for the dinosaurs. So Claire, Owen and their team must do whatever it takes to fulfill Benjamin’s dying wish to save and protect the animals he helped create.
Jones generously took the time recently to talk about playing Gunnar in ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ during an exclusive phone interview. Among other things, the actor discussed that he was inspired to play Lockwood Estate’s auctioneer host in the latest installment in the ‘Jurassic World’ franchise because he admires Bayona’s creative take on suspense and horror elements, as well as CGI. Jones also admitted that he appreciates that his character undergoes a transformational arc, as he initially wasn’t interested in any kind of morals, but eventually begins to question Eli’s actions.
The conversation began with Jones discussing why he was drawn to play Gunnar in ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.’ “I primarily became involved in the film because of J.A. I was sent the script, and asked if I wanted to take part. I then heard that J.A. was going to be part of it,” so the actor immediately became interested in working on the fifth installment of the series.
Jones also admitted that “I didn’t think there was going to be another film in the franchise. I didn’t know anything about (the later films); my primary relationship with ‘Jurassic Park’ was with the original movie. So I went to talk to J.A. about it, and he had a very original take on the series, including his own suspense and horror. He’s also very adept at CGI, which is often very human-based, in suspense films. So it was great to work with him,” the performer shared.
“We also talked about my character, and how we could make him funny and interesting. J.A.’s always a great collaborator, especially on the characterizations in his movies, which helped make the job very attractive,” Jones added.
The working relationship that the actor developed with his director was a connection that Jones described as being great. “Often times on these big films, actors’ ideas can’t be integrated into the story, because the franchise is almost bigger than any one individual who’s in it,” the performer explained. “But J.A.’s very keen to hear ideas from his cast, and integrate them into the script, if he can. On a human level, he’s also very warm, energetic and interested in all aspects of cinema. He’s also a great scholar, and knows a lot about the history of film,” Jones also shared.
The actor also described why he feels that ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ stands on its own as a unique story, while also paying tribute to its immediate predecessor and the original ‘Jurassic Park’ trilogy. “J.A. is an expert in suspense and horror, which led this movie to depart from even ‘Jurassic World.’ This film physically moves the action off the island (of Isla Nublar), which helps make it a slightly darker film. So this story has more of a psychological menace, in addition to the physical menace that’s created by the dinosaurs,” Jones revealed.
The performer also admitted that “there’s this moral panic that’s created by what my character, and Rafe’s character, are trying to do. There’s a reference to genetics and their development, as well as trading of the products that they’re working on. So I think there are a lot of things that have changed since ‘Jurassic World.'” He then shared that since the events that took place in the original ‘Jurassic Park,’ “the dinosaurs are becoming hybrids…While working on this new movie, I got the feeling that J.A. was very alert to today’s conventions of horror.”
Following up on the fact that many of the new dinosaurs that are being created in ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ are hybrids, Jones also noted that Gunnar begins to feel a bit of repentance for his part in the operation, after he witnesses the dinosaurs’ growing hostility at the Lockwood estate. “I think my character eventually begins to see the error of his ways. I suspect that he didn’t think about his wrongdoings” until later in the operation.
“Initially, Gunnar didn’t care if he was stealing paintings or dinosaurs, as long as what he was doing was bringing money in. He wasn’t interested in any kind of moral questioning…He didn’t need any details about what he was doing,” as long as he received his compensation, the actor also divulged.
The performer also followed up on his experience of collaborating with Spall and the rest of their co-stars on the drama, and their process of making every scene feel natural. Jones revealed that when actors “work on a very big production, a lot of things take a lot of time. So the main thing is to try to guard spontaneity. The longer things take to set up, the longer things are thought and talked about. As a result, it’s harder to make things feel alive, and as though they’re happening in the moment for the first time. I think J.A. was very good on keeping us on point, in that sense.”
The actor then delved into the experience of the sequel being shot in the United Kingdom and on the Hawaiian Islands. “Well, there weren’t any Hawaii shots for me!,” Jones admitted with a laugh. “The cast and crew were divided into groups that would film in either England or Hawaii. It would have been lovely to go to Hawaii. But I love filming on location in general. Pinewood Studios is its own world, and I love working there, as it allows me to work at home.
While shooting his scenes at Pinewood Studios, Jones filmed some sequences against a green screen. “One of the interesting things about working on this movie is that through the use of the CGI, there are cutting edge and futuristic images. But there was also the use of some puppetry, and I love that blend. The combination really makes the final version of the film look fantastic!”