Jurassic Park: Actors Who Turned Down Playing Alan Grant
While Sam Neill played the iconic Dr. Alan Grant in the 1993 hit Jurassic Park & its third sequel, a surprising number of actors passed on the role.
Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park is one of Sam Neill’s most recognizable characters, but a surprising list of actors turned the role down. Jurassic Park, known for its groundbreaking computer-generated and animatronic visual effects, was the highest-grossing film of 1993, and has continued to be relevant long after its original release. The blockbuster has spawned sequels, a Netflix animated series, and even theme park rides at Universal Studios.
Grant was one of the main protagonists in Jurassic Park, and he returned in Jurassic Park III. Neill portrayed the character as highly intelligent and motivated, though somewhat grumpy, introverted, and disdainful of children. When events at Isla Nublar take a turn for the worse, he comes into a heroic role, even warming to his young companions Lex and Tim Murphy (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello), but Grant, despite his keen intellect, remains a relatable everyman.
The broad range of actors also considered for the part could have given very different performances to Neill's, changing the emotional core of the movie. Considering Jurassic Park’s financial success and ongoing pop-cultural prominence, one could assume that the actors who passed on the part of Alan Grant may regret their decision. Still, each of them have led varied and successful careers, even without playing the paleontologist.
Actors Who Almost Played Alan Grant In Jurassic Park
Harrison Ford, who previously worked with Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg on the Indiana Jones films, was the first actor approached in casting Alan Grant. Ford did not think the role was right for him, even referring to the movie’s premise as like “a trip to Mars.” A new character intended to be played by Ford was included in early drafts of Jurassic World, but the actor did not stay attached to the project long enough to see if his character made it into later rewrites. Richard Dreyfuss, another experienced Spielberg collaborator, turned down the role as well. While the Jaws star has never outright confirmed exactly why he did not accept the part, Dreyfuss has been candid about his unpleasant experience filming Close Encounters of the Third Kind and how the director pushed him to his limits. This could possibly be why he was hesitant to work with Spielberg again.
William Hurt was also considered for the role, but did not read either the Jurassic Park script or its source novel before dismissing the offer to play Grant, a seemingly inexplicable decision. Perhaps it was simply not the right time, since Hurt later acted in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, another science fiction film directed by Spielberg. Kurt Russell nearly played Grant as well, but the actor’s salary requests were higher than what Universal Studios was willing to pay. Russell, known for films like Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China, could have portrayed Grant as more of a traditional action hero than Neill’s brainy scientist.
Several other actors, including Dylan McDermott, Tom Sizemore, Dennis Quaid, Kevin Costner, and Tim Robbins reportedly could have taken the leading role, though it is unknown how close they got to playing Grant or why they did not end up doing so. Still, with the continuation of the Jurassic Park franchise in the Jurassic World films, any of them might still have a chance to enter the series. Jurassic World: Dominion will feature the return of Sam Neill as Alan Grant along with other members of the original film’s cast. New characters may also come into the picture, possibly leaving space for any of these talented actors to finally get a piece of dinosaur action.