Viewers Weren't Meant To See Sam Jackson Die in 'Jurassic Park'
There sure are a lot of memorable deaths in the original Jurassic Park; Dennis Nedry getting mauled by the venom-spewing Dilophosaurus, the lawyer who is snatched from the safety of a men’s room by a T-Rex, all the audience members who died of overstimulation at the sight of Jeff Goldblum’s bare, sweaty torso. But arguably, the most iconic death in Jurassic Park is one that happens offscreen: the demise of John Arnold. Arnold, the park’s lone competent employee, played by Samuel L. Jackson, disappears while trying to reboot the system and is only ever seen again in the form of a surprisingly handsy severed arm.
Now that moment in the movie, the one we never actually saw, has been immortalized as a new Mattel toy set. Admittedly, the Jurassic Park franchise doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to making action figures (lest we forget the time Nedry became a sunglasses-wearing badass), but this looks like a very faithful recreation of a scene that, again, in no way exists in the movie.
From what we can tell, this scene was never intended to be in the film -- and there has been some confusion about that. In a 2018 interview, Jackson mentioned that he was supposed to fly to Hawaii and be on-set to “shoot my death scene” but wasn’t able to because a hurricane “destroyed all the sets.” This led many to assume that Arnold’s death, which is detailed in the novel, was supposed to happen onscreen. But that doesn’t totally seem to be the case, judging from multiple drafts of the screenplay. In the shooting draft of the script, things play out very much like in the finished product, except that we see his body as well as his arm.
So it’s possible that Jackson was supposed to make an appearance as a corpse -- but even that doesn’t totally make sense, because while the exterior of the maintenance shed (in which Arnold bites it) was built in Hawaii, the interiors were filmed on a soundstage at the Universal Studios lot. It’s certainly conceivable that Steven Spielberg whipped up a whole new plan for Arnold that wasn’t in the script that somehow involved him being attacked outdoors -- but the way we see it play out in the movie seems like the best possible version of this scene. Witnessing Arnold’s death would rob us of the suspense of not knowing what Dr. Sattler will discover after the engineer mysteriously disappears, not to mention the shock of seeing the raptor for the first time just as the power comes back on and things seem to be looking up for but a brief, fleeting moment -- which, in retrospect, might be the most relatable part of the entire movie.
Top Image: Universal Pictures