Tech whiz saves day
Jake Johnson talks about helping make the control room safe again and more on ‘Jurassic World.’
For every dashing paleontologist and flirtatious “chaotician,” “Jurassic Park” has always (for better or worse) relied on the control room techs to make the dinosaur trains run on time. As the newest face for “Jurassic World’s” control room, Jake Johnson had his work cut out for him.
The computer programmers are the secret hands that move the guests, steer the attractions and unfortunately unleash a computer virus that in the original “Jurassic Park” disables all the security fences, dooming park guests to certain death and mayhem. So how does the new crop of desk jockeys fare in the flashier sequel “Jurassic World”?
We spoke with “New Girl” actor Johnson about his character, Lowery, the super-meta, dinosaurobsessed programmer in Colin Trevorrow’s “Jurassic World,” and asked him about resurrecting the besmirched reputation of those who work in the control room, his place in the long line of “Jurassic Park” computer techs (including Samuel L. Jackson, who played Ray Arnold, and Wayne Knight as the nefarious Dennis Nedry) and why a person would deem it appropriate to wear the T-shirt that represents the bloody incident that happened on Isla Nublar back in 1993 at his place of employment. Minor spoilers ahead. Could you take us into the mind-set of Lowery? Who is this guy?
Yes, it’s funny you ask, because Colin and I and Derek [co-screenwriter Connolly] actually did a lot of back story on him. We view Lowery as the kind of guy who would be obsessed with the original Jurassic Park. Not the movie, but the actual park, but was too young to have gone. We see him as a guy that, after college and Jurassic World came about, felt like he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work there. He’s a guy who’s working there in that control room in order to be close to the dinosaurs every day, like somebody who’s obsessed with animals who works at a zoo. Just to feel as close as he possibly can, live in a little hut on the island and have his own garden in the back. Just a cool, kind of stony guy who’s just tripping out … that his day job is on some weird island with dinosaurs. I’m glad that you mentioned that he was too young to have gone to the park, because the big moment (for your character) is when Claire [Bryce Dallas Howard] realizes that he’s wearing a Jurassic Park T-shirt. I’m curious, what kind of person wears a Jurassic Park T-shirt in the universe where Jurassic Park exists?
The idea that we wanted to do with it was that, of course he would wear it because he thinks vintage is cool. He’s only there because he really wanted to be in Jurassic Park. It’s like he just got the shirt and he hates the way 2015 is going, he just thinks that the early ’90s were cooler. Like the majority of people who have that cool slant to them, the year before was always better than the current one. I’m curious if you think he’s the voice of the audience, because he feels like the generation who may wear a Jurassic...
Yeah, that’s right. Colin’s original idea was that we have a friend who we based our look on, a guy named Clay Allen, who’s a writer. He’s a friend of Derek, Colin and myself. He’s just a guy we really respect and we really like, and he is kind of the voice of the audience. So we wanted to put somebody ... if a guy like Clay was going to go see the movie, what would he think of all this? Then, Colin’s idea was, “Now I want that guy to get swept up in the story and go on his own arc and get insane about it the way we hope the audience does.” Where do you think Lowery ranks with the past tech guys from Jurassic Park, like Sam Jackson’s character and Wayne Knight’s character?
I can’t do, I can’t say that! That’s up to you guys! How do you think that conversation would go if they were alive and they could ...
If Sam, Wayne Knight and Lowery were all talking? As their characters to your Lowery?
I think Lowery would be having an anxiety attack from pure excitement. I think the whole thing would be Lowery asking questions. The movie plays a lot with tropes. There’s a “someone has to stay behind” gag. And your character is the champion of “Jurassic Park” nostalgia. Were there fun action tropes you wanted to bust in this film?
The game of it, for Lowery, was that most people in action movies aren’t fans of action movies, they’re just in it. The game of it for us was, “What if you take a guy who doesn’t belong in these who happens to find himself in them?” … Everything he has to do, he just can’t believe he’s involved in this, then gets caught up in it. It’s actually kind of refreshing, because so many movies today, or TV shows, refuse to address the obvious. Just say it’s a zombie, you know that’s a zombie! They won’t reference the pop culture material that’s right in front of their face.
Audiences are really smart now. [Colin was] like, “Let’s just have somebody who can be part of the joke with people.” Did you set up your own desk for your character or did you have set do that?
Colin really put those dinosaurs how he wanted, but then the paperwork and everything was just kind of he and ... I like to always be writing little things everywhere I go. It was a combination of both of us. You and Trevorrow have a previous relationship from working together on “Safety Not Guaranteed.” When you found out he got the job, were you excited, did you want a part?
I think every actor, when their buddy’s a director and they find out something, we all want to be in the movie. You’re kind of not allowed to say that. Colin called me pretty quick after and said, “If this goes down, I got a part for you.” So I was rooting for him, not only as my friend, but selfishly, throughout. I really wanted to experience this and I really wanted to experience it with him. Doing a big studio movie where you’re not close with the director, it can be great if you guys happen to get along, but if you don’t, it can be a nightmare. Being able to do this with him was such a pleasure. At the very least, you saved the hacker, Nedry. The problem with him is that he is the villain. He gets his comeuppance and he sets a bad example for hackers and tech people everywhere. Your guy kind of resurrects that stereotype for the better.
You know, that’s a big priority for me. I think hackers get a really bad deal. My brother-in-law, a guy named Adam Fisk, he is essentially a hacker. He is the builder of LittleShoot, and a thing called Lantern. What he does is he makes it possible for people to get around Internet things. In foreign countries, where something’s illegal, he’s building software that you can get around things. Well, he and I battle all the time because part of what he’s doing is part of the world where you can steal content very easily. That content is stuff that I’m in! So yes, in terms of Adam Fisk, my brother-inlaw, I am very happy making sure that they don’t seem like the bad guys.
describes his “Jurassic World” character, Lowery, as “a cool, kind of stony guy.”