Monday, 12 October 2009

Neville

On Saturday at tea time, I watched the end of the film Jurassic Park. One thing and another, Jurassic Park has played a notable part in my life. I saw it in the cinema when it first came out, and it became the first big summer blockbuster that everyone was talking about that I too was able to talk about. 5 years later, I studied it in excruciating depth for my Media Studies 'A' level coursework.

Yes, I did Media Studies at 'A' level. Yes, I'm aware that it's a doss subject. That is why I picked it. I got three A grades at 'A' level, so I'm not going to sit here and have you plebby scum judge me.

All of this pales into insignificance - the cinema trip, the coursework - when my old mate Neville the T. Rex appears on screen to deliver what I think is his greatest ever performance. Life can be hard for a jobbing actor who is also a T. Rex. Whilst anti-discrimination legislation guarantees him a fair chance, it's always going to be difficult to find a role for him in EastEnders or The Bill. Really, Neville has been typecast as a T. Rex. Fans of dinosaurs will also have seen him in the BBC's documentary series Walking With Dinosaurs. He was also a body double for the 1998 remake of the film Godzilla.

Some of you may be thinking, 'surely all the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are female, as made plain by the plot?'. But come on, people. You're obviously the type of person who calls out to Barbara Windsor "hello Peggy!" in the street. These people are actors. Neville, who is very much at one with his sexuality (as you might expect from someone who does all his scenes naked), and understood that he had to play a female T. Rex in the film. His sympathetic portrayal has impressed a generation of film-goers. It's just a pity that the scene in which he finds out that he's missed his period was left on the cutting room floor.

Such deceptions are not uncommon in the land of film. Katherine Hepburn was played by two midgets - Ethan and Ralph - stood on the other's shoulders for the entire shooting of On Golden Pond, Hepburn dubbing her lines in afterward. In more recent years, Harrison Ford was played by a monkey in The Fugitive.

The real test of a great film is if you can put this knowledge to one side and lose yourself in the story and the characters. Jurassic Park ticks these boxes for me. But when the credits roll, it always seems right to doff one's hat to Neville, an unsung hero of modern entertainment.

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