‘Jurassic Park’: Jeff Goldblum Beat Out Some Huge Stars to Play Ian Malcolm

There’s no actor quite like Jeff Goldblum. For decades, the star has brought his distinctive presence to countless hit movies. From The Fly to Thor: Ragnarok, Goldblum has long elevated any project he takes on. But Jurassic Park is arguably his finest hour. So it’s wild to consider all the other big names who almost played Dr. Ian Malcom instead.

'Jurassic Park' star Jeff Goldblum poses at a photocall for the opening of 'Dinosaur Dig' at the Natural History Museum
‘Jurassic Park’ star Jeff Goldblum poses at a photocall for the opening of ‘Dinosaur Dig’ at the Natural History Museum | John Stillwell – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

‘Jurassic Park’ became one of the biggest movies of all time in 1993

Released on June 11, 1993, Jurassic Park became an instant sensation. Of course, director Steven Spielberg proved he was a master of the modern blockbuster with Jaws way back in 1975. And similarly, Jurassic Park became a defining movie for an entire generation. Goldblum’s eccentric mathematician is a big part of why the film has continued to endure.

The actor’s performance as Dr. Ian Malcom — purveyor of the chaos theory — was a clear standout. In fact, when Spielberg signed on to make a sequel, he wound up elevating Goldblum to the lead. While less well-received than its predecessor, 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park roared its way to become the year’s second-highest-grossing movie, behind only Titanic.

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Jeff Goldblum almost didn’t join the ‘Jurassic Park’ cast

After all that, it might be impossible for Jurassic Park fans to imagine anyone else in the role. But before Goldblum signed on, a number of more proven box office draws nearly beat him to Dr. Ian Malcolm.  

According to Entertainment Weekly (via The Wrap), the list of actors who screen-tested for the role includes Johnny Depp, Bruce Campbell, Michael Keaton, Ted Danson, Michael J. Fox, and Steve Guttenberg. Keaton starred in Batman Returns in 1992, and Fox wrapped up the Back to the Future trilogy in 1990. Meanwhile, Danson ended his 11-year run on Cheers in 1993.

Then-rising star Jim Carrey also was up for the role of Dr. Ian Malcom. Jurassic Park released less than a year before Carrey’s movie star break in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Even Cameron Thor — who played Lewis Dodgson in Jurassic Park — auditioned for Ian Malcolm before being cast in another role.

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‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ reunites the actor with his former co-stars

For the first time in more than 20 years, Goldblum returned to the Jurassic Park franchise for 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Although Ian Malcolm only appears briefly, his portrayer is set for a much bigger role in the sequel. And director Colin Trevorrow is getting the whole gang back together.

In Jurassic World: Dominion, Goldblum will reunite with original co-stars Sam Neill and Laura Dern, who played Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler. The original Jurassic Park trio will appear opposite Jurassic World leads Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. But plot details remain mysterious so far.

Jurassic World: Dominion is currently set for release on June 10, 2022.