How Samuel L. Jackson’s Iconic ‘Jurassic Park’ Line Originated From Total Panic

Samuel L. Jackson is one of the most legendary actors who knows how to sell dialogue. There isn’t another actor around who says the word “motherf***er” quite the same way that he does. Jackson starred in Jurassic Park and delivers yet another iconic line that continues to stick with modern-day audiences. Jurassic Park writer David Koepp explains how the line came from a moment of panic.

Samuel L. Jackson plays John ‘Ray’ Arnold in ‘Jurassic Park’

'Jurassic Park' actor Samuel L. Jackson smiling with hat and glasses
Samuel L. Jackson | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Jackson has a small role in the original Jurassic Park as John “Ray” Arnold. He plays a chief engineer of computer systems. Arnold is the man behind the theme park’s rides, dinosaur enclosures, and other essential services for the park.

Unfortunately, Arnold doesn’t survive the chaotic dinosaur outbreak in the original Jurassic Park. A series of events leaves Arnold stuck in darkness within the control room. He’s tasked with getting all of the park’s computers back online through a risky reboot. This is the last time fans see Arnold, but his severed arm is later shown in the maintenance shed.

Writer David Koepp explains the history behind the iconic ‘hold onto your butts’ line

The ReelBlend podcast interviewed Koepp to talk about Jurassic Park and other behind-the-scenes stories. They talked about Jackson’s character, who doesn’t get much screentime. However, he does get to say the now-iconic line, “Hold onto your butts!” Koepp put the line into the script based on something Back to the Future filmmaker Robert Zemeckis said during another project.

“One is a very simple line, it’s only four words, but I like the way it came to be in the movie in that people liked it,” Koepp said. “I was finishing Death Becomes Her when I was writing Jurassic Park, and we had an ending that was really disastrous at first from one of these horrible test screenings where they almost kill you.”

Koepp continued: “So we’d very quickly gone out to shoot a new ending for the movie, but there was little time before the movie came out, so we were in the dailies of the reshoots, and there was gonna be no opportunity to redo the reshoots.”

“So this was it, this really had to work,” Koepp said. “And we sat down in the dailies, and as the lights were going down, Bob Zemeckis said, ‘Hold onto your butts.’ I happened to be working on the script at that time, and I was like, ‘Oh, I love that.’ I went back and I typed it into the script immediately, and then Sam Jackson said it. I don’t think I ever told Zemeckis that, but that’s his line.”

Samuel L. Jackson moved onto his ‘Pulp Fiction’ role next

Next, Jackson signed onto one of the most iconic roles of his career as Jules Winnfield in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. He earned an Oscar nomination for his performance. Jackson’s monologue including the legendary Bible verse quote is still constantly on everybody’s lips. Pulp Fiction would ultimately launch him into stardom.

The Academy Awards will honor Jackson with the Honorary Award at the 2022 ceremony. He has 199 acting credits, including Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jackson continues to turn in one legendary performance after another.

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