A little less than halfway through Jurassic Park, Jeff Goldblum’s swaggering mathematician Dr. Ian Malcom struts up to an ungodly sum of dinosaur droppings, snaps off his sunglasses, and says to no one in particular, “That is one big pile of shit.” It’s a crowd-pleasing moment that endures to this day (see: homage in Jurassic World), with YouTube clips, GIFs, and downloadable audio snippets dedicated to the one-liner that, along with some unsettling violence, likely helped Steven Spielberg’s cautionary dino romp earn its PG-13 rating.
Equally unshakeable is the sight (and sound) of Laura Dern’s Dr. Ellie Sattler plunging forearm-deep into the doo-doo. Together, they’re trying to ascertain what’s ailing a sickly triceratops. The scene encapsulates so much of what is awesome about Jurassic Park: believable special effects, witty banter, and the universal appeal of seeing stuff way larger than you normally ever see it. Which is why we tracked down the movie’s co-producer Gerald R. Molen, seen above, who appeared in the famous scene, playing a veterinarian alongside Dern as she scavenged the sickly creature’s scat for clues. Reminiscing from his home in Montana, Molen shared some behind-the-scene secrets of that indelible movie moment.
What the Dino Droppings Were Made Of
“It certainly wasn’t the real stuff. [Laughs] It was just something the effects and prop people came up with to get the scene right, and get the right texture. It was some mud and straw and whatever else.”
The Cast’s Reaction
“There were a lot of side comments going on with the actors, made when they first got there and saw what the set was. [We knew] at some point we would remove any references to certain four-letter words that didn’t fit in with the dynamics of the movie. Jeff Goldblum, he’s a very … how do I describe him? I don’t think he ever wanted to be a comedian, but he does have that little comedic touch about him. He’s always in a great mood, and he had some little comments to make for the moment. Even Laura [Dern] had comments to make.”
The Art of Triceratops Poop
“At that time, we were in Hawaii, and so it makes it a little more costly cause you’re on location and housing and feeding everybody. That was probably one of the cheaper scenes. [Laughs] That particular scene did involve the triceratops, and that involved guys underneath in this mini-cave, operating the air valves to make the dinosaur look like it was breathing. It was very cleverly done and very realistic. It spoke very highly of [special-effects creator] Stan Winston and his guys and the animatronics. It also spoke highly of [special-dinosaur-effects supervisor] Michael Lantieri, and how they adapted to work with Winston and his guys. It’s a tremendous collaboration.”
“My grandkids and my great-grandkids watch the movie. It’s strange. When they see me in that scene, they’ll look at me, look at the TV, look at me. I look back on it fondly.”
To Those Who Debunk the Film’s Depiction of Dino Droppings
“Get a life.”