Arriving in theaters this week is Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which was directed by J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible, A Monster Calls) and stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Ted Levine, Daniella Pineda, Justice Smith, Toby Jones, and James Cromwell.
Fallen Kingdom takes Pratt and Howard back to Isla Nublar to try and rescue the remaining dinosaurs from an erupting volcano, only for them to realize there are even more threats awaiting the previously prehistoric animals back in the United States. Along for the ride is Daniella Pineda’s character, Zia, a volunteer who works with a dinosaur-centric non-profit, who also happens to be a highly skilled paleo-veterinarian with her hands full during the rescue mission.
Daily Dead recently spoke with Pineda about coming aboard Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and she chatted about working with her co-stars as well as director Bayona, her experiences filming with the animatronic puppet for Blue (Pratt’s prized Velociraptor from Jurassic World), and how she hopes her character will help inspire a new generation of female fans.
Great to speak with you, Daniella, and congratulations on the film. It's a lot of fun and I think it’s great that your character becomes a big part of this new direction in the Jurassic World franchise. I would love to hear what your first reactions were to being part of this sequel and getting to play Zia, because she's great.
Daniella Pineda: Thank you so much. I was pretty astounded. I didn't have words to be able to conceptualize what had happened when I got that phone call. I think blacked out for a couple minutes. Jurassic Park was a film that helped me develop my own cinematic tastes growing up, and influenced me in a lot of ways. To be honest, I didn't have an intention of being in the entertainment industry. It's something I kind of fell into, but in many ways, Jurassic Park helped shape my path, even if I didn’t realize it at first.
There's a really great blend of practical effects and digital effects in this, and Zia ends up spending a lot of her scenes with Blue [the Velociraptor]. How much of that was done practically? And in terms of your performance, was it nice to be able to work with a real dinosaur puppet in those scenes?
Daniella Pineda: We used the puppet a lot, and that is due to J.A. [Bayona]. J.A. has a talent for the visual side of filmmaking as much as he understands how to communicate with actors. J.A knew that there has been an over-saturation of CG effects lately, and whenever you can go the practical route, it's always a win. Plus, when we were making Fallen Kingdom, we were also holding onto these old motifs from the original Jurassic Park and a big part of that was using practical effects as much as you could, and then enhancing everything with CG.
So, as an actor, it's so much easier to work with an animal that is so lifelike. When Blue is on the table and I'm tending to her, her eyes dilate whenever the light hits them. She can sweat, and her veins pulse, too. She felt like she was covered in real reptile skin. It honestly didn't even feel like I was with a puppet, it felt like I was with a real creature, and that makes the performance part of the job so much easier.
Over the last few years, I feel like we’ve seen the tide turning with female characters in action films. Where, maybe back in the ’80s and ’90s, they weren't always what I would describe as strongly developed characters.
Daniella Pineda: No, they were totally boring and it wasn't their fault at all—the actresses who played those roles. It was everyone who was in charge of crafting those characters and back then, those characters didn't get a lot of love. I feel thankful that I finally get to be an action hero during a feminist era, because that makes Zia even more interesting.
Absolutely. Zia is such a strong character in this, was it conscientious to you while you were filming Fallen Kingdom just how important a role like this could be to a new generation of girls growing up with these movies? In this day and age, how cool was it to know that you were coming into this film representing something more than just a secondary character, which maybe five years ago that would have been more the case?
Daniella Pineda: Our movie was being made right when Wonder Woman was coming out and this movement was taking off, and it has been in everyone's collective consciousness more about how we treat female characters, and that was a big focus as we fleshed out Zia.
I just felt so fortunate and happy that the timing works. It's nice to have a character like Zia right now, especially for little girls, because her character isn’t about looking hot or standing around, pouting her lips. You fall in love with Zia because she's intelligent. She has a background in medicine, she's fearless and she's completely independent and capable. That's something that all little girls need more references for, especially right now.
Looking back at this experience of working on the new Jurassic World, what was the biggest challenge about this film for you? Was it finding the endurance for this performance, or maybe the stunts? Because neither seemed easy to me.
Daniella Pineda: Those two things were definitely big parts of the challenges, but the hardest part about working on this movie was our wrap day. I had spent a month in Hawaii, and it was just the most fun I've ever had in my life. The experience overall felt larger than life, and it was very hard saying goodbye to everybody. We became Camp Jurassic World and both Bryce and Chris are just very humble, kind people. Chris is so much fun, too. I don't feel like I'm going to work when I'm with that guy, I feel like I'm goofing off at camp. We're getting paid to just have fun. So that honestly was the hardest part.
In case you missed it, check here to catch up on Heather's other interviews with the cast of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom!