Why Samuel L. Jackson’s ‘Jurassic Park’ Death Was Off-Screen

The Jurassic Park movies are known for graphic carnage, and Samuel L. Jackson recently revealed that his haunting off-screen death in the original movie was meant to be filmed as part of it.

Jackson played John Arnold in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel. Arnold is a smug computer programmer, gradually losing his patience with the park's eccentric owner. He leaves the safety of the control room, hoping to restore the park's power and safety measure, and he never returns.

Arnold's off-screen death has a strong impact on viewers to this day. While he's never seen being devoured, his arm drops onto Ellie (Laura Dern)'s shoulder later in the film, cueing her horrified realization that it's just an arm.

Yet in a recent interview with The AV Club, Jackson confirmed that he was scheduled to film John Arnold's death.

"I was actually supposed to go to Hawaii, to shoot my death scene," he said. "But there was a hurricane that destroyed all the sets. So I didn't get to go to Hawaii. All you see is the residue of my body, my arm. But yeah, I was supposed to be on set."

Aside from keeping Jackson off the idyllic island, the storm forced Spielberg to work within tighter parameters, which may have brought out his best work in a way no one could have predicted.

"But, you know, I enjoyed being on that set with Jeff [Goldblum] and Sir Richard Attenborough. It's funny, because Steven [Spielberg] would actually operate the camera sometimes," Jackson said. "He'd consider the camera, and he'd be kind of looking at me, and he'd go, 'Okay, I'm going to get you,' and everybody just has to start scrambling, and we'd shoot. He actually shot a few of the things that I'm in, in that lab, with that long ash dangling off that cigarette."

"Hogging that fake cigarette because I had quit smoking, and he wanted to make sure I didn't go back, so he got me the worst-tasting fake cigarettes ever," he added.


In Crichton's original novel of Jurassic Park, John Arnold's brutal death is narrated in no uncertain terms. The computer specialist is pinned to the ground and ripped to shreds by a velociraptor. For Jackson, the hurricane may have spared him a messy day of filming, if nothing else.

The Jurassic franchise returns to theaters this summer, with the release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on Jun. 22, 2018.