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EXCLUSIVE! Daniella Pineda on Becoming a Paleo-Veterinarian in JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM

In Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, it’s been three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady, and Claire Dearing return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to erupt. They soon encounter terrifying new breeds of gigantic dinosaurs, while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire planet.

In the film, Daniella Pineda plays Zia Rodriguez, a paleo-veterinarian that works for the Dinosaur Protection Group. We had a chance to talk to Pineda about working on the film and here are a few highlights.

The interview was edited for clarity but to get the entire thing you can listen to the audio below

Luis Lecca: I saw it (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), you were great. Now, could you talk about your first experience with these films?

Daniella Pineda: Yeah, it started really young. I was about ten or eleven when it came out, and that movie totally changed my life and I was already a big Spielberg fan because I saw Jaws. I was already much in love with Spielberg. And then by the time that movie came out I had lost it, and it was the first VHS that I owned – that was mine. That was the first VHS that didn’t belong to my parents, that was MY VHS. And true story, that VHS broke in my VCR because I watched it so many times. It kinda became a movie that I always put on.

Q: So you play a dino veterinarian?

Daniella Pineda: A “Paleo veterinarian.”

Q: What do you learn about these creatures for the film?

Daniella Pineda: Well, to prepare for the movie, I worked with a guy named Jonathon. He was a vet in England who I worked with, and he had worked with African reptilian wildlife. So, he has literally gone to crazy places, tranked giant reptiles, and operated on them. So, he taught me everything from, if you’re operating on one, this is how you cut open a dinosaur, this is how you suture, reptile skin is very thick similar to what a dinosaur would be, the immune system of a reptile is ancient, it’s why they’re able to basically lay in mud for all day long. So, they have pristine immune systems, and he would talk about birds. And I just learned so many different things about creatures of today and the way of mutating the context for creatures back then.

Q: Wow, that’s awesome. I know you get to work with a lot of great special effects, but there’s a lot of practical effects involved. Were these creatures scary to see in person? I’ve seen some stuff on online that just looks like you’re really in front of a dinosaur.

Daniella Pineda: Yeah, the blue animatronics was crazy, also I got a chance to see the T-Rex that Bryce and Chris worked with, which was just absolutely amazing. The people who built these creatures worked on it for years, those animatronics took a very long time to make and the final result was spectacular. So, I worked with Blue. You would shine a light in her eyes and her eyes would respond to light because her eyes would dilate. Her skin felt like reptile skin, which was crazy. She had pulsing veins. She would blink. She would twitch. She sweat. She had drool. It was crazy!

Q: So, speaking of all the effects and all the amazing props in the film, between you, me, and the thousands of people that are gonna watch or read this interview, did you keep any props? Did you take any home?

Daniella Pineda: Oh my god. I wish, I wish! But believe it or not, Universal kept everything, I don’t think I was allowed to take anything.

Q: Personally, what’s your favorite dinosaur?

Daniella Pineda: I’m gonna have to say any sort of chubby, baby triceratops. That’s my dinosaur. Any animal that looks so chubby or overweight that it might have trouble walking, even though it’s bad for the animal, is very cute.

Q: Did you get to meet Steven Spielberg, and how was that experience?

Daniella Pineda: That was unreal. Every time that Steven Spielberg came to set, it happened to be a day that I wasn’t working, so I didn’t actually get to meet Steven Spielberg until the premiere, which was a dream come true. I’m a big film buff, I’m a film nerd, I’m a big Spielberg fan, so that was a big honor. I totally geeked out, and it was crazy.

Q: The film is a big hit, overseas.

Daniella Pineda: China loves it.

Q: And that’s a tough market. We’ve seen films that are big in the United States not do well in China, and here you are. This movie is killing it there. Have you had a chance at travel the world, and how has that experience, seeing yourself in the big screen in foreign lands, it’s such a big scale.

Daniella Pineda: It’s definitely insane!

You can listen to the entire interview below.