JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION Star Dichen Lichman On Shooting That Show-Stopping Malta Sequence (Exclusive)

We sat down with Jurassic World: Dominion star Dichen Lachman to talk about her villainous role as Soyona Santos in the dino blockbuster, which is currently the second-highest grossing film of the year!

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With the Jurassic World: Dominion - Extended Edition now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD all across the globe, we recently sat down with actress Dichen Lachman to talk about her villainous role as Soyona Santos and that show-stopping Malta chase sequence. 

We won't spoil too much, but in the film, Santos is the second-in-command for Biosyn CEO Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) and is tasked with smuggling Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) to Biosyn headquarters. However, she runs into some unexpected difficulties when she crosses paths with Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard).

Santos' introduction in Malta kicks-off one of the film's most incredible action sequences as she unleashes the Atrociraptors on Owen and Barry Sembène (Omar Sy), which results in complete mayhem all across the island country. 

While chatting with Lachman, she shared details on the backstory she crafted for her character, what it was like filming during the pandemic, working with Bryce Dallas Howard, and more. 

Check out the full video interview below and please remember to SUBSCRIBE

ROHAN: Your character Soyona Santos is a pretty mysterious character throughout and we don't really learn too much about her in the film. Did you develop any sort of backstory for her?

DICHEN: Oh, yeah, I went into a deep dive - I think her mother was a fossil smuggler from Mongolia, because there's a wealth of fossils there, and actually, the fighting dinosaurs, the two velociraptors, I think were discovered in Mongolia or Siberia, in that region, and then, her dad came to great wealth during the aluminum wars in Siberia, and I was making basically another movie in my head about where she came from.

So, that was super fun, and, of course, it had no relevance, really, to the film, but I mentioned to Colin, sort of this world that she came from, and he was like, “Well, maybe we could give her a Siberian name, or a Mongolian name?,” so I came up with a list, and he actually really responded to some of them, but the one he loved, we couldn't clear, so it ended up being Soyona, and, yeah, it was just so much fun. I mean, he's just so collaborative, and so willing to hear your ideas, and how you feel about your character and gives you a lot of ownership over that.

I came up with this idea for the remote, because they didn’t have a remote control for her, like a TV remote type thing. I designed the bracelet. Well, I designed sort of the basics of it, and I said, what if I did all these drawings before I met him in my hotel room, and I gave them to him, I was like, “What if it's a bracelet and it like slides out because she doesn't have a purse, and she has to do all this action stuff, and she also has a phone and I don't want things just like kind of appearing - what do you think?” And, he was like, “Let me think about it.,” and he talked to Joanna, the costume designer, and the props master and they basically used my rudimentary drawings as the foundation for the bracelet. So, that was really cool.

ROHAN: I know that because of COVID, much of that whole Malta excursion with the cast was not actually shot on location in Malta. What was your experience shooting during the pandemic?

DICHEN: Yeah, they built a lot of it at Pinewood, and the whole team did such an extraordinary job, an A++ team of people, craftsmen, and, in terms of the logistics of it all, it was a really terrible time that the world was going through. The silver lining of the experience though, and obviously, that was the only way we could proceed making the movie was that - I obviously didn't have scenes with a lot of people in the film, but because we were living together in this bubble, it became like an extended family, and it's extraordinary to have that many movie stars, and just like Silverback actors in one place, having breakfasts and dinners together, it was surreal, but also extraordinary that there was no friction.

Everyone just got along, you know, because I mean, you hear stories about how famous people can sort of sometimes behave in a way that isn't sort of the nicest all the time, but everyone was so lovely. There was not one person who ruined it for anyone else or whatever, it was just like a family and everyone got along and to go out on Saturday morning and seeing Colin and some of the cast playing frisbee and then other people just having like their brunch on the terrace and catching up about how the week went. Every day my mind was like blown, I was like, “How did I get so lucky to end up in this situation?”

ROHAN: After unleashing the atrociraptors, you have a big fight scene with Bryce Dallas Howard. What was it like to work with her and can you tell me more about prepping for that whole sequence? 

DICHEN: Oh, she's so amazing. I mean, she just lights up any room that she walks into with just her joy and her love and kindness. Working with her was just so special, and, in terms of the training, we had one rehearsal together because obviously she was very very busy. I had like three separate sessions where I worked with the stunt team and our coordinator would stand-in for Bryce and walk me through the beat.

I've actually had a lot of experience with stunts, because I've played lots of character suited up in these situations, so it wasn't like a big learning curve for me, mostly it was just remembering the choreography and the beats, and sometimes the form of it, but I always feel really comfortable when I have to be physical in a role. I like doing that.

ROHAN: Santos ultimately survives the events of the film, but this is a dinosaur movie - were there ever any discussions about a different, more toothy ending for your character?

DICHEN: No, for sure, when I met Colin, in this very room, on Skype in this chair, in this exact same spot. He did say you don't get eaten by a dinosaur, so you never know, and I was like, well, that's good, I like that, and it never changed. I actually think - sorry, I painted my hallway today, and I just realized that I’m covered in house paint. - It wasn't a discussion, but I think there's definitely space for that whole Malta section of the movie, that world, and what happens in that world to be its own thing.

I don't know if you agree with me, but it kind of had a different color to the Jurassic, like the main storyline of the franchise. It could be its own world, the way that it was filmed, and just like the characters in the world there, I feel like that could be its own its own thing.

ROHAN: You're mainly working with the atrociraptors, were there any other dinosaurs you were hoping to share the screen with?

DICHEN: I mean, I knew that it would basically be with the atrociraptors, and then those were mostly, because they're so big, they weren't animatronic, but they did come in to get lighting references with the heads of the dinosaurs. So, in that boat shadow or whatever it is, they were moving around with the heads on the sticks, in terms of where they would be going and getting lighting references for the VFX team.

So, I didn't get to really experience any animatronics stuff, but I did when I was walking through the market. They weren't filming in the market at that point, but I would see them sitting around and just, oh my god, like the workmanship that went into this. I mean, it should all be in a museum that's open for people to go and see.

In our review of Colin Trevorrow's franchise capper, we said "Jurassic World: Dominion is pure dinosaur mayhem at its finest, 100% fueled by nostalgia and amplified by epic dinosaur action, making it one of the more fun films of the summer. Due to a so-so story, enjoyment will likely heavily depend on your investment in the series, but if you’re looking for two hours of chaotic entertainment, then this is definitely the film for you."

The star-studded cast of the Jurassic World: Dominion features Jurassic alums Chris Pratt (Owen Grady), Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire Dearing), 3x Golden Globe-nominee Sam Neill (Alan Grant), Academy Award-winner Laura Dern (Ellie Sattler), Academy Award-nominee Jeff Goldblum (Ian Malcolm), BD Wong (Dr. Henry Wu), Omar Sy (Barry Sembane), Justice Smith (Franklin Webb), Daniella Pineda (Zia Rodriguez), and Isabella Sermon (Maisie Lockwood).

Newcomers to the franchise include DeWanda Wise (She's Gotta Have It) as Kayla Watts, Mamoudou Athie (Sorry for Your Loss) as Ramsay Cole, Campbell Scott (The Amazing Spider-Man) as Dr. Lewis Dodgson, Scott Haze (Venom) as Rainn Delacourt, Dichen Lachman (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Soyona Santos, Kristoffer Polaha (Wonder Woman 1984) as Wyatt Huntley, Elva Trill (Starstruck) as Charlotte Lockwood, Dimitri Thivalos in an undisclosed role, and Varada Sethu (Now You See Me 2) as Shira.

This summer, experience the epic conclusion to the Jurassic era as two generations unite for the first time. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are joined by Oscar®-winner Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill in Jurassic World Dominion, a bold, timely and breathtaking new adventure that spans the globe. From Jurassic World architect and director Colin Trevorrow, Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live—and hunt—alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.

The Jurassic World: Dominion - Extended Edition is now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD! 

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