Why Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler are the beating heart of Jurassic World Dominion

Chris Tilly
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Dinosaurs give the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies that wow factor, with incredible practical and digital effects bringing the prehistoric creatures to life onscreen. Jeff Goldblum brings the laughs as Dr. Ian Malcolm, poking fun at the insanity of what we are watching. But Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler – as played by Sam Neill and Laura Dern – are the heart and soul of the franchise, and their off-and-on-again romance draws to a close at the end of the final film.


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Starring in the first Jurassic Park movie turned Sam Neill and Laura Dern into household names. Neill was paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, while Dern played palaeobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler, who was both his work colleague and romantic partner.

While they survived the first Jurassic Park movie – just – the pair sat out of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, wherein their colleague Ian Malcolm took center stage.

They were also absent for the first two Jurassic World movies, but the dynamic duo return in Jurassic World Dominion to continue their stop-start story. So let’s chart their relationship through the series as they head towards the endgame.

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Alan and Ellie – together in Jurassic Park

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Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant before the horror hits Jurassic Park.

At the start of Jurassic Park, Alan and Ellie are working a dig together, and are very much in love. They are also frustrated by a lack of funding, which is why the pair accept John Hammond’s invitation to the park, which comes with a hefty cheque.

Mathematician Dr. Ian Malcom joins them on the trip, and spends a fair amount of time flirting with Ellie, much to Alan’s annoyance. But in spite of Ian’s advances – and the many dinosaurs that are trying to eat them – they survive the ordeal together.

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But the relationship isn’t without its issues, largely stemming from Alan’s reluctance to have children. Speaking during the making of Jurassic World Dominion, Sam Neill describes the problem thusly: “The reason that Alan and Ellie didn’t work out in Jurassic Park was because she was determined to have children, but Grant had no interest.

“Ellie wanted to settle down with a roof over her head, but the idea of living in a city or having to drive children to school was a big anathema to Alan because he likes working with his hands and being in the elements. That was the biggest conflict in their relationship.”

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Alan and Ellie – apart in Jurassic World III

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An awkward moment between Ellie and Alan in Jurassic World III.

So while Alan and Ellie are together at the end of Jurassic Park, they are very much apart by the time Jurassic Park III happens. Which is frustrating, as they know they’re supposed to be together, and we know they’re supposed to be together.

In this third film, Ellie is married to a man named Mark – who works in International Relations at the State Department – and the couple have two children.

Alan visits Ellie early in proceedings and tries to teach her toddler about herbivores and carnivores before telling Ellie about his ‘raptor work.

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They then part ways, but not before Ellie calls him “The Best,” and tells Alan that he can phone her about anything, anytime. Alan soon takes her up on that offer – calling when a Spinosaurus is battering his boat – and Ellie helps save the day.

Alan and Ellie – together or apart in Jurassic World Dominion?

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Ellie makes Alan an offer he can’t refuse in Jurassic World Dominion.

It’s Ellie’s turn to ask Alan for help at the start of Jurassic World Dominion. As Laura Dern explains: “When we meet Ellie in Dominion, she has taken all of her studies as a palaeobotanist and shifted her focus to climate change as a soil scientist.

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“She discovers that there are swarms of locusts that are decimating crops across the US, which leads her to get a second opinion from the brilliant palaeontologist, Alan Grant.”

Alan eventually agrees to help, but also wants to know how things are going between Ellie and Mark. “It’s over,” comes the response, and you can sense Alan’s relief.

“He’s always held a torch for her, and I suspect that his biggest regret was allowing Ellie to slip out of his life,” explains Neill. “Grant feels guilty because he didn’t handle it well and feels a bit sorry for himself. All this is to say that Dr. Ellie Sattler has a great deal to do with why and how Alan Grant finds himself in the line of fire once again.”

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Sparks inevitably fly as they do battle with even bigger and badder dinosaurs. And once again they live to fight another day, although this time it’s Ellie’s turn to express regret, telling Alan she’s sorry for getting him involved when he looked so happy on his dig. To which he replies, “Ellie, I wasn’t happy.”

Sattler then offers him a choice – go back to that dig or leave with her. “Ellie, I am coming with you,” says Alan, and as far as this franchise is concerned, Ellie and Alan – the beating heart of both this film, and the series – live happily ever after.

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Jurassic World Dominion is out now and you can read our review here.

About The Author

Chris Tilly is the TV and Movies Editor at Dexerto. He has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Newspaper Journalism, and over the last 20 years, he's worked for the likes of Time Out, IGN, and Fandom. Chris loves Star Wars, Marvel, DC, sci-fi, and especially horror, while he knows maybe too much about Alan Partridge. You can email him here: chris.tilly@dexerto.com.