Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, and Colin Trevorrow, the Netflix animated series Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous tells the story of Isla Nublar from the perspective of a group of six teenagers, set during the events of the first Jurassic World film. Excited about the offer of a once-in-a-lifetime experience at a new adventure camp, Darius (voiced by Paul-Mikél Williams), Brooklynn (voiced by Jenna Ortega), Kenji (voiced by Ryan Potter), Yaz (voiced by Kausar Mohammad), Sammy (voiced by Raini Rodriguez) and Ben (voiced by Sean Giambrone) quickly learn what it’s like to have dinosaurs wreaking havoc around them as you fight to survive.
At the virtual junket for the new Jurassic World series, Collider got the opportunity to chat in a roundtable interview with co-stars Paul-Mikél Williams, Glen Powell (who voices the laid back camp counselor Dave), and Jameela Jamil (who voices by-the-book camp counselor Roxie) where they talked about their own personal level of excitement in being a part of this franchise, bringing some diversity to the Jurassic universe, why Darius’ backstory is so relatable, the hero journey, what they’d like to see for their characters in Season 2, and their own wish at becoming part of the live-action aspect of the franchise. Jamil also shared her own very memorable teenage experience with Steven Spielberg.
Question: Paul, how much of a dino nerd were you, going into this show, and how much more of a dino nerd are you now?
PAUL-MIKEL WILLIAMS: I am loving this question because the transition between reading dinosaur books and then reading novelizations of movies was pretty drastic. Going into this, I would say I was 50% of the dino nerd that Darius is, and now I’m 100% of the dino nerd that Darius is. I knew about the T-Rex and the Baryonyx, and stuff like that. But then, I learned about all of this other stuff, like the Pteranodon, and my love for the franchise just blew up. I have so much more of a love for dinosaurs than I used to.
The Jurassic franchise is much beloved. Everybody remembers the experience they had, especially when they saw the first movie. What is your own personal level of excitement and enjoyment with not only being a part of the franchise and doing it an animated form but still being a part of the canon?
WILLIAMS: Thank you for asking this question. I knew this was gonna be a spin-off, but then when I realized that it was part of the canon, it was multiplied times 10. Me and my mom were already jumping up and down that I had booked this. And then, I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I am in the same league as John Hammond (played by Richard Attenborough), Chris Pratt, and all of these phenomenal actors.” That just sealed it. I idolize this entire franchise. And then, all of my castmates are famous, too. I remember the first time meeting Jameela, I couldn’t come up with anything to say. I was just like, “Yes, thank you so much. It’s so nice to meet you.” Being a part of this franchise is amazing. I couldn’t think of anything better to close out this year.
Glen, how does it feel to have the series existing concurrently, alongside the events Jurassic World?
GLEN POWELL: It’s a movie that follows the same events but focuses on how different characters with different perspectives and different experiences and a different worldview react to the same set of circumstances. Seeing someone like this team come around to that idea, I think it’s fresh and cool in a bunch of other ways that doesn’t try to add more dinosaurs and more explosions and more screaming to it. It’s really a character-based thing. They said it’s The Breakfast Club with dinosaurs but it’s a much more diverse cast of characters that have more interesting perspectives than any of those characters in The Breakfast Club and are faced with more insurmountable things than their personal lives. In terms of bringing it to that simultaneous timeline, I think the juxtaposition makes a much more glowing statement about this story and why this story is important.
Jameela and Paul, traditionally it feels like the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World franchise has been very focused on white characters at the center of it. How does it feel to bring diversity to the franchise and have it reflect a little bit more of reality?
JAMEELA JAMIL: Everything I do and have done has always been mostly driven by wanting to exist somewhere where someone who looks like me hasn’t existed before. It’s me just recognizing that, as a kid, it was really hurtful growing up, never seeing a South Asian, especially never seeing a South Asian woman, presented as a main character rather than a moment of light relief where we we’re stereotypes and cast aside. So, to now participate in these things that I grew up loving so much, that I could never have imagined I would be a part of, it means a lot to me. I really believe the whole, if you can see it, you can be it. I think it’s so important for little kids who look like me and Paul to be able to know that this is what we’re doing and therefore they can go on and do it, too. We’re not closing any doors behind us.
WILLIAMS: I grew up in the days of Nick at Nite, so I still have a fresh mind to this but I still do have a clear opinion about it. Nick at Nite was filled with Fresh Prince of Bel Air and all that stuff, so I did grow up with at least one show that was based around people that looked like me and who were Black or African America. To be one of the leading characters in such a global movement as a show like this, it’s great. The diversity of all of the characters is important. Almost all of the characters or totally different in, in race and ethnicity. It makes it so good for people all around the world because it’s not just a specific race of people that you’re watching. It’s races that you can relate to you and know what they’re going through. You can relate to them on more than just a level of what they’re feeling. It’s more so how they’re feeling and the fact that people that look like you are also going through this. It’s not just that same old person that you always see on TV. It’s a huge variety. I love how that speaks to children and adults, in this show.
JAMIL: Also we’re on Netflix, so we’re going global and that feels really great and inclusive. To make sure that kids all around the world can relate to at least one character in the show is so important. We just need more of that, as we’ve learned, very clearly.
Paul, your character has a really heartbreaking backstory with his dad. What was it like to get into that headspace and capture that heartbreak?
WILLIAMS: That’s actually a really good question. I just wanna say that it’s very relatable for a lot of people. I know that a lot of people go through that. My dad is still here and I talk to him, all the time. To have to go through that method of acting and to have to imagine your dad being in a hospital bed, it brings up so many emotions that really make you want to cry. No, you don’t want to imagine that but sometimes you have to use your own emotions to convey the story, in order to get other people’s emotions to come out. Some people might not know that this stuff is going on in their friends’ lives, acquaintances’ lives, or colleagues’ lives. I really just wanted to bring attention to a lot of things. You really can’t have one fight and immediately be like, “I don’t like you anymore,” or “I don’t wanna be related to you.” People make those drastic comments when you’re having an argument, and you’re not just talking to a person but you’re talking to someone that is close to you and who is in your heart. You can never let go of someone like that, just because you have an argument. You always have to stick close to someone, especially if they’re a part of your family or they’re your friend. I’ll stop there because I’m about to cry.
JAMIL: I’d just like to add that I believe in grudges.
POWELL: This show is from the perspective of the kids and the kids know better than the adults. Paul has such a wise perspective.
JAMIL: I think that it’s just so interesting that the show, which we’ve been working on for ages, comes out in a year where it’s been highlighted that the kids know more than the adults. The parallels, politically, are just so amazing. The ones engaging in climate change, politics, Black Lives Matter and Pride are the youth. They’re going to lead the rest of us, the older generations, back to safety and back to what is actually normal and good. I really hope that message resonates with people. I’m backing the kids.
Steven Spielberg is executive producing this series. Did you guys ever meet him, at all?
WILLIAMS: I was too focused looking at the mic instead of looking into the recording booth, so I actually don’t even know if he was ever there. His perseverance and his continuity in this is just great. He’s stuck with this franchise for so long. It’s been almost 30 straight years and it’s incredible to see that he’s still making entertainment. The series isn’t ever gonna get old because it was iconic. It was groundbreaking. I would love to see a totally different side of this with him producing it because he’s an incredible person.
JAMIL: I didn’t get to meet Steven. I passionately hoped he wasn’t there while I was recording. The result is so great but it can be mortifying. I will say that I used to serve him when I worked at a video store when I was 16 because he was over in London. I’m such a huge movie buff and such a big fan of all of his films, in particular. I was so nervous, every time he would come in. I knew that he’d come in every Saturday, and I was so excited to serve him. I would make sure that no one else took the Saturday shift, so I’d be able to serve Steven and get him his favorite videos and give him good recommendations, which felt insane as a teenager. And so, for that kid to know that I’m now like indirectly working with him is just too much to cope with.
POWELL: Wait, Jameela, you were serving him videos? You were working in a video store and recommending movies to Steven Spielberg?
JAMIL: Yeah, he would come in and I’d give him my unsolicited teenage opinion. He was one of my favorite customers, ever. I deliberately got a job in quite an affluent video store because I knew loads of famous actors went there and I just wanted to meet them. Every day, I was just chilling with all of my heroes.
POWELL: Do you remember what you recommended to him?
JAMIL: No, I don’t. I was 16, ages ago.
POWELL: That is so cool. What a daunting task. I can’t imagine trying to recommend a movie to him. I’d probably overly research and panic under the pressure.
JAMIL: I also had to ask him his name because I didn’t want him to make him feel uncomfortable. I had to get his name to bring up his membership, and then I’d have to scold him when he hadn’t brought them back on time. I was fining Steven Spielberg because he didn’t bring a DVD or video back.
WILLIAMS: That’s the best thing I’ve heard, all day.
JAMIL: It’s so wild. It’s really great because he was so kind and so wonderful, and would listen to me prattle on about my new favorite film. It’s so incredible to now work amongst so many of the people that I used to serve at the video store, back then. You get to know who to be nice to now and who not to be, and you know who’s actually a good person, if they treat the lowly 16-year-old like a human being.
POWELL: It’s wish fulfillment, being a fan of this thing, and then growing up and getting to be a part of this universe. Te wish fulfillment with Hollywood, for me, is when people that I have idolized my entire life, I’m suddenly their colleague, contemporary, and equal. That’s a cool thing. I did a project on Steven Spielberg when I was in elementary school but I never recommended him videos. That’s gotta be mind-blowing.
JAMIL: I’ve never had any shame.
Paul, what’s your favorite aspect of Darius’ hero journey in Season 1?
WILLIAMS: I love this question. Darius is definitely one of the most embarrassed and withdrawn kids of the group. He’s the polar opposite of Sammy in the show. He loves to talk about dinosaurs. They were his passions, since he was a little child. And then, to go through all of this, I am so amazed that after nearly being eaten 20 times, he still has the same amazing passion for dinosaurs. And then, stepping up to that plate and protecting other people is the best part about this. The best part about his entire journey is that he is the youngest out of the entire group and he also is the leader. How that speaks to me is that, as youth, all of these people have such loud voices. It doesn’t matter how young you are, you can still save five other people from being killed. It speaks to the children that are watching this because it’s saying that no matter how young you are, you can still make a change. You can still make a difference in the world. That’s what I love about it. But Darius stepping up to the plate was definitely a total mood change for me. I knew I had to go from this shy, timid kid into this kid that was yelling out like a boot camp director. I loved it. Darius is such an amazing person and I’m so honored to play him.
Season 1 ends on a very dramatic cliffhanger. Where would you like to see your characters go, if there is a Season 2?
WILLIAMS: You’ll have to ask Netflix, if there’s going to be a Season 2.Darius has experienced a lot of stuff on the island already, including a lot of near death experiences, to be precise. The thing that I would most likely want to see Darius go through is probably something along the lines of just chilling with the dinosaurs. That’s the one thing that he’s wanted to do in this entire series and he has never gotten to do it. Well, he got to do it once but every other time, he was running for his life. So, just giving everybody a chance to have a normal camp day, rather than a getting chased around by carnivores camp day. That’s what I want.
POWELL: That would be an entire episode of a Darius just listening to the breath of the Triceratops. It’s not the best episode but it’s really heartfelt. Honestly, I just hope that maybe I could become a better father to these kids, over the course of this thing and figure it out. We’ll see. Roxie is really carrying most of the load, at this point.
JAMIL: I feel like I would like to see more and more of Roxie’s silly side. She does have this tendency to join in with the prank or the silliness. I would like to see Dave step up. I would definitely love to continue to fill in more of her ridiculous side. We know it’s in there. We keep seeing little glimpses of it. I think that that will be really fun to keep bringing that out of her and to play with that. I’m an extraordinarily silly person, so I’m excited to see what I’d be able to bring to that.
Do you know if there’s any possibility that your characters could come enter the live-action world and would you be open to that prospect?
JAMIL: Yes, please. I would like to volunteer for that. Honestly, I would do the catering on the animation or the main film. I am so obsessed with this franchise that I don’t care how I get to be involved. I’m just so into it. And as the greatest coward on earth, I’m such a jumpy, afraid person. I would definitely mess my pants, if I was actually in front of a dinosaur myself, I’m sure. But getting to play someone brave and cool and stoic in this just makes me really happy.
WILLIAMS: I would be happy with just a little nod at the end.
Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous is available to stream at Netflix.
Christina Radish is a Senior Reporter of Film, TV, and Theme Parks for Collider. You can follow her on Twitter @ChristinaRadish.