Jurassic Park Star Says The Movie Gave Them Impostor Syndrome

Sam Neil had imposter syndrome from being cast as an action star in Jurassic Park which was made worse by how Universal Studios marketed the dinosaurs over the three leads.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

sam neill jurassic park

Jurassic Park is one of the greatest movies of all time, with CGI dinosaurs that visually hold up today. As Indiewire reports, Sam Neil felt imposter syndrome while filming and promoting the blockbuster because the publicity tour made it seem like the dinosaurs were the film’s real stars. Neil, Jeff Goldblum, and Laura Dern were established stars being overlooked by the studio, which said the film was a huge hit “without movie stars.”

This was true enough, but I think it slightly irked us, the actors, to be reminded from time to time we were not real ‘stars’. It also rather overlooked the well-established and highly respected careers of Laura, Jeff and Dicky

– Sam Neil on the marketing of Jurassic Park

Sam Neil had already starred in The Hunt for Red October and Memoirs of an Invisible Man before getting the part, at age 45, of Dr. Alan Grant. Discounting him as a movie star is true in that he wasn’t on the level of a Harrison Ford, the actor that had turned down the role before it went to Neil, but in his memoir, Did I ever Tell You This?, the star explains how hurt he was by the studio’s treatment of the trio.

Even before the press tour that discounted their talent, Neil was having doubts about his role in Jurassic Park. As he explained in his book, “I’m certainly not an action hero. The idea of me going hand to hand with Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger is simply absurd. I’m more of the ordinary guy on screen.”

Again, at 45 and compared to action stars of the early 90s, Sam Neil was significantly smaller and less athletic than the men who became his box office peers. It’s no wonder that decades later, he’s opening up about feeling imposter syndrome, and at least now, there are millions of fans that can’t imagine anyone else as Dr. Alan Grant.

The success of Jurassic World: Dominion came from bringing back Neil, Jeff Goldblum, and Laura Dern to the franchise that wouldn’t be the same without any one of them. Chemistry can’t be taught or manufactured, and the accomplished trio had it in spades, stealing the show from the dinosaurs with witty banter and an irreplaceable on-screen dynamic.

Jurassic World, which brought in Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard to revitalize the dormant franchise, was also a huge hit, but the two didn’t have the same connection as any pairing of Neil and Dern, Goldblum and Dern, or Neil and Goldblum. What started as imposter syndrome from being an action star was made worse by the studio’s marketing campaign, but it ended with the knowledge that Jurassic Park had just accomplished something that changed movies forever.

Sam Neil, who recently went public with a cancer diagnosis, informed fans he’s currently in remission. The action star has had a remarkable career after Jurassic Park, starring in The Tudors with Henry Cavill, Jonathan Rhys-Myers, and Natalie Dormer, and then Peaky Blinders with Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy. In between, he’s been in countless films and television shows, both big-budget productions and smaller independent features, but no matter the project, Neil is a highlight of every production.