While it's unclear what their characters' relationship will be in the latest film, which hits theaters on June 10, the pair's romance was lightly acknowledged in the original Jurassic Park. That film was released in 1993, the year Dern, born in 1967, turned 26 and Neill, a 1947 baby, turned 46.
In a new interview with the Sunday Times, the stars — now 55 and 74 years of age, respectively — mused on their characters being love interests despite the actors being born 20 years apart.
"Laura was a tender age. I’m guessing ... 23?” Neill mused of his younger co-star. "And she was already an exciting actor — she had done David Lynch films. It was no surprise she was asked. But I was completely baffled to be called by Steven [Spielberg, the film's director]. I didn’t get it.”
Though neither really registered it at the time, and Neill has previously been cast opposite significantly younger leading ladies — including Nicole Kidman, also 20 years his junior, who played his wife in 1989's Dead Calm — they couldn't resist pointing out the striking age gap.
"I am 20 years older than Laura!” Neill "blurts out" during the interview, getting a laugh from Dern. "Which at the time was a completely appropriate age difference for a leading man and lady! It never occurred to me until I opened a magazine and there was an article called ‘Old geezers and gals.' People like Harrison Ford and Sean Connery acting with much younger people. And there I was, on the list. I thought, ‘Come on. It can’t be true.’"
According to Dern, "it felt completely appropriate to fall in love with Sam Neill. And it was only now, when we returned in a moment of cultural awareness about the patriarchy, that I was, like, ‘Wow! We’re not the same age?’”
Jurassic Park marked the beginning of Dern's real-life romance with her other Jurassic Park co-star, Jeff Goldblum, 69. Goldblum, who also reprises his role in Jurassic World Dominion, is 14 years older than Dern, whom he dated for much of the mid-'90s.