Jurassic Park was a groundbreaking blockbuster in 1993, effortlessly blending lifelike CGI dinosaurs with practical effects.
However, one of its most impressive feats are the stunning performances Steven Spielberg got out of his youngest cast members. The two child stars were played by 9-year-old Joseph Mazzello and 12-year-old Ariana Richards.
Wondering where they are now, over 25 years later? Fortunately, we don’t need to dust a fossil to find out! Here is what the Jurassic Park kids have been up to over the years.
Ariana Richards got the role by screaming
To appreciate where they are now, we have to understand how they got into the movie in the first place. And in Ariana Richards’ case, it all started with a scream!
By this point, Richards was a child actor with several credits under her belt. This included starring in the 1989 Christmas movie Prancer with future Big Bang Theory star Johnny Galekci.
Many young actresses were up for the part of computer hacker kid Lex, including established child star Christina Ricci. Part of the audition tape process included each actress giving her best scream.
Spielberg personally reviewed the tapes, and when he played Richards’ audition, his wife came running into the room. She was convinced something had happened to one of their children! Richards’ ability to channel pure fear helped her get the gig.
Spielberg wrote Joseph Mazzello a college recommendation letter
In Joseph Mazzello’s case, he didn’t even have to audition for the role of Tim, the boy obsessed with dinosaurs. He had auditioned two years earlier for Steven Spielberg’s Hook. Although Spielberg turned him down for that film, he promised him a role in Jurassic Park.
Although Mazzello continued acting, when he grew up he was bit by the directing bug. In 2001, Mazzello enrolled at the prestigious University of Southern California film school. He even got a recommendation from Steven Spielberg himself for his college application. Talk about a way to seal the deal! (Ironically, Spielberg himself had been rejected twice by USC film school when he applied in his youth.)
Mazzello has dabbled in directing
Obviously, film school helped teach Mazzello some valuable tricks of the trade, and he seemed destined to follow in Spielberg’s footsteps behind the camera. Recently, he was able to make his directing dreams come true.
In 2016, Mazzello wrote and directed the feature film Undrafted, a baseball drama about a player who (wait for it) didn’t get drafted. He based the story on his own brother, who missed out on the Major League Baseball draft.
Mazzello was able to assemble an impressive cast for the film, including Jim Belushi, but unfortunately struck out with the critics. The film sits at 25% at RottenTomatoes. But we’re willing to bet this isn’t the last we’ve seen as Mazzello as a director.
Mazzello still acts in popular movies
Of course, even if directing doesn’t end up working out, Mazzello continues to have a successful career as an actor. Now 36, he’s acted in movies and TV shows nearly every year since Jurassic Park came out.
He’s built a pretty successful niche as the memorable sidekick. You might remember him in his teen years playing the best friend in 1998’s Simon Birch.
But his acting roles have been consistent as an adult, as well. In 2010, he appeared in The Social Network as a Mark Zuckerberg acquaintance who convinces the future mogul that Facebook must have relationship statuses. And in 2018, he starred in Bohemian Rhapsody as John Deacon, the bass player for Queen.
I just wrapped Bohemian Rhapsody. I'm sad. Every moment was a pleasure. Every day was a blessing. One of the all time great experiences of my life. Thanks to all who were a part of it.
— Joe Mazzello (@MazzelloJoe) January 29, 2018
Ariana Richards Gave Up Acting To Be An Artist
Unlike Mazzello, Ariana Richards decided to focus her time after Jurassic Park away from Hollywood.
She appeared in a handful of roles since the film, including its sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park, an episode of Boy Meets World, and Tremors 3. But she almost entirely stopped acting after 1998, when she was 19 years old. Her most recent screen appearance was the 2013 TV movie Battledogs.
Of course, Richards didn’t disappear. Instead, she traded acting for art. Now 40, Richards became a portrait artist and owns her own gallery in Portland, Oregon. Like many artists, she loves using different materials and media to bring an artistic vision to life.
She’s also the first to admit that she leads a quiet life compared to the glitz and the glamour of Hollywood. However, she has found a lot of success in this field, giving art tours all across the world. And more importantly, this is something that brings her peace and fulfillment.
She still keeps in touch with Steven Spielberg, however. She sent him a watercolor portrait of her character in Jurassic Park that hangs in his office.
Richards became a mother in 2015
Wondering why Richards might be so happy to get out of the limelight and enjoy the quiet life? Well, motherhood will do that to you!
In a sequence of events sure to make any Jurassic Park fan feel like a fossil, Richards got married in 2013 and gave birth to a daughter in 2015. Like many parents of small children, she is focusing much of her energy on the child’s life and development.
That doesn’t mean she hasn’t thought about taking another trip to Jurassic Park, though…
Passing the Torch
25 years after starring in the film, Ariana Richards had a Jurassic Park reunion of her own. She attended the premiere of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in 2018 and met up with her former co-star Jeff Goldblum on the red carpet. She had a good time catching up and comparing notes about their young children.
Oh Jeff #JeffGoldblum, spectacular moment seeing you at the Premiere after a quarter of a century!! Melted my heart! Husband @MarkAaronBolton and I loved chatting with you & beautiful wife #EmilieLivingston about our toddlers. #JurassicWorldFallenKingdom #JurassicPark25 #premiere pic.twitter.com/9IEZ4xdMNn
— Ariana Richards (@GalleryAriana) June 16, 2018
What the Future Holds: Jurassic World 3?
Could Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello return to Jurassic Park in Jurassic World 3?
Jurassic Park alums Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum are already set to reprise their roles for the film, due out in 2021.
Although ET reports that “there are no current conversations” about Richards and Mazzello reprising their roles, both actors are reportedly open to the idea. And fans have been clamoring for their return.
Could we see Richards and Mazzello in Jurassic World 3? Time will only tell!