JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION Exclusive Interview With Actress Dichen Lachman ("Soyona Santos")

As Jurassic World: Dominion - Extended Edition takes the top spot on the home video charts, we were able to sit down with actress Dichen Lachman to talk about her villainous role as Soyona Santos!

Interviews Opinion

With Jurassic World: Dominion - Extended Edition now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD, we were recently granted an exclusive opportunity to sit down with actress Dichen Lachman to talk about her villainous role as Soyona Santos.

Santos proves to be one of the more memorable villains of the picture as she unleashes a pack of Atrociraptors on our heroes, setting off a wild chase sequence through the streets of Malta. Whlie she is ultimately apprehended for her role in Maisie's abduction, we spoke to Lachman about possible different endings, crafting an elaborate backstory, meeting the legacy cast for the first time, and a whole lot more!

Check out the full video interview below and please remember to SUBSCRIBE

ROHAN: Your character Soyona Santos is pretty mysterious throughout and we don't really learn too much about her in the film. Did you develop any sort of backstory for her?

DICHEN: Oh, yeah, I went into a deep dive - I think her mother was a fossil smuggler from Mongolia, because there's a wealth of fossils there, and actually, the fighting dinosaurs, the two velociraptors, I think were discovered in Mongolia or Siberia, in that region, and then, her dad came to great wealth during the aluminum wars in Siberia, and I was making basically another movie in my head about where she came from.

So, that was super fun, and, of course, it had no relevance, really, to the film, but I mentioned to Colin, sort of this world that she came from, and he was like, “Well, maybe we could give her a Siberian name, or a Mongolian name?,” so I came up with a list, and he actually really responded to some of them, but the one he loved, we couldn't clear, so it ended up being Soyona, and, yeah, it was just so much fun. I mean, he's just so collaborative, and so willing to hear your ideas, and how you feel about your character and gives you a lot of ownership over that.

I came up with this idea for the remote, because they didn’t have a remote control for her, like a TV remote type thing. I designed the bracelet. Well, I designed sort of the basics of it, and I said, what if I did all these drawings before I met him in my hotel room, and I gave them to him, I was like, “What if it's a bracelet and it like slides out because she doesn't have a purse, and she has to do all this action stuff, and she also has a phone and I don't want things just like kind of appearing - what do you think?” And, he was like, “Let me think about it.,” and he talked to Joanna, the costume designer, and the props master and they basically used my rudimentary drawings as the foundation for the bracelet. So, that was really cool.

ROHAN: I know that because of COVID, much of that whole Malta excursion with the cast was not actually shot on location in Malta. What was your experience shooting during the pandemic?

DICHEN: Yeah, they built a lot of it at Pinewood, and the whole team did such an extraordinary job, an A++ team of people, craftsmen, and, in terms of the logistics of it all, it was a really terrible time that the world was going through. The silver lining of the experience though, and obviously, that was the only way we could proceed making the movie was that - I obviously didn't have scenes with a lot of people in the film, but because we were living together in this bubble, it became like an extended family, and it's extraordinary to have that many movie stars, and just like Silverback actors in one place, having breakfasts and dinners together, it was surreal, but also extraordinary that there was no friction.

Everyone just got along, you know, because I mean, you hear stories about how famous people can sort of sometimes behave in a way that isn't sort of the nicest all the time, but everyone was so lovely. There was not one person who ruined it for anyone else or whatever, it was just like a family and everyone got along and to go out on Saturday morning and seeing Colin and some of the cast playing frisbee and then other people just having like their brunch on the terrace and catching up about how the week went. Every day my mind was like blown, I was like, “How did I get so lucky to end up in this situation?”

ROHAN: After unleashing the atrociraptors, you have a big fight scene with Bryce Dallas Howard. What was it like to work with her and can you tell me more about prepping for that whole sequence? 

DICHEN: Oh, she's so amazing. I mean, she just lights up any room that she walks into with just her joy and her love and kindness. Working with her was just so special, and, in terms of the training, we had one rehearsal together because obviously she was very very busy. I had like three separate sessions where I worked with the stunt team and our coordinator would stand-in for Bryce and walk me through the beat.

I've actually had a lot of experience with stunts, because I've played lots of character suited up in these situations, so it wasn't like a big learning curve for me, mostly it was just remembering the choreography and the beats, and sometimes the form of it, but I always feel really comfortable when I have to be physical in a role. I like doing that.

ROHAN: With Soyona Santos, Jiaying, Roulette, Reileen Kawahara; you're very good at playing these ruthless, morally ambiguous, emotionally scarred characters - and I'm just meeting you now, but you seem like a lovely person - but do those more villainous, gray-ish characters appeal to you more as a performer?

DICHEN: I mean, I do love playing those roles, because I always like finding the nuance in that. Bad guys don't think they're bad guys, villains don't believe or feel like they're the villain and getting into the psychology and the circumstances of them is always really fascinating to me. I think a lot of actors actually enjoy playing those those roles, as I do, and I'm very lucky that I guess, with my look, I can really lean into that, and I love exploring just the humanity of it because playing the protagonist is, I mean, it is complex, and it can be complex, but in the way that we tell stories, a lot of the time, it's usually less so, in just the format that sort of like everything in television and film, generally speaking, fits into, especially more mainstream, sort of, like, poppy stuff. I think it's always more fun to play the more complicated character, and I'm just so lucky that I get to do that.

ROHAN: Santos ultimately survives the events of the film, but this is a dinosaur movie - were there ever any discussions about a different, more toothy, ending for your character?

DICHEN: No, for sure, when I met Colin, in this very room, on Skype in this chair, in this exact same spot. He did say you don't get eaten by a dinosaur, so you never know, and I was like, well, that's good, I like that, and it never changed. I actually think - sorry, I painted my hallway today, and I just realized that I’m covered in house paint. - It wasn't a discussion, but I think there's definitely space for that whole Malta section of the movie, that world, and what happens in that world to be its own thing.

I don't know if you agree with me, but it kind of had a different color to the Jurassic, like the main storyline of the franchise. It could be its own world, the way that it was filmed, and just like the characters in the world there, I feel like that could be its own its own thing.

ROHAN: This film finally reunites Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum - I know you didn't get to share any scenes with them, but what was your experience meeting the legacy trio?

DICHEN: So, Daniella [Pineda] and I were in the hot tub. *laughs* I know, it wasn't a bad bubble to be in, and I had this moment, because I had just watched this thing about UFOs, and it was a very convincing, very credible person talking about them, and I'd never sort of gotten into that space before. Obviously, we're in a hotel room, we can't leave. I was going down rabbit holes all day long, and I was like, “What do you think about UFOs? What do you know about them? Because I just saw this thing and I mean, I can't rule it out now. I feel like there might be something.,” and she was like, “Oh my god!” So, we just had this incredible convo, she knows all about it apparently, and she was like, “You’ve got to watch this and you've got to watch this!,” and we were bonding over this and we came up in our robes and standing there in the lobby was Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern.

They were all standing there, Jeff had just arrived, Laura had gotten there the day before, but this was the first time they had all seen each other in, I don't know how long, and we were just blown away. It felt so surreal, and also, we were in robes, so not even properly dressed, cause it's basically our house now, this place, and we were just freaking out. I can't tell you how - what I'll say is if you could imagine being in the situation, yourself, that's how I felt. It felt like it wasn't happening, like it wasn't real, and I couldn’t believe it, you know? So, that was the first time I saw the legacy cast together, and I was wearing a robe. *laughs* Which is kind of embarrassing. It's not how I played it out of my head.

ROHAN: You're mainly working with the Atrociraptors, were there any other dinosaurs you were hoping to share the screen with?

DICHEN: I mean, I knew that it would basically be with the atrociraptors, and then those were mostly, because they're so big, they weren't animatronic, but they did come in to get lighting references with the heads of the dinosaurs. So, in that boat shadow or whatever it is, they were moving around with the heads on the sticks, in terms of where they would be going and getting lighting references for the VFX team.

So, I didn't get to really experience any animatronics stuff, but I did when I was walking through the market. They weren't filming in the market at that point, but I would see them sitting around and just, oh my god, like the workmanship that went into this. I mean, it should all be in a museum that's open for people to go and see.

ROHAN: I absolutely loved Severance, easily one of the best shows of the year. Are you allowed to say anything about season two or have you started production yet?

DICHEN: Yes, I cannot tease anything cause I think Ben Stiller would appear and cover my mouth. *laughs* No spoilers!

I will tell you that we are gearing up, and we hope to be on set in October sometime. I am so excited for all the actors, and for Ben and Dan, who are nominated for Emmys. It's so exciting. To just know that, at the end, the wonderful work is rewarded with this recognition. That show is extraordinary, I am so grateful that you've watched it, and that you love it.

For Dan, it's just been so surreal for him, and for me, again, it's like another Jurassic experience. It’s like, you get on set, and you're working with these people who you have admired for your whole life leading up into deciding to be an actor and you hope and you dream that you get to work with these people, like on Jurassic or Severance, and then all of a sudden, they're right there and you have to work with them. In a way you have to kind of desensitize the fan in you and you have to kind of shut that down and turn into a professional and sometimes that's kind of hard, especially with COVID on Severance, we weren't in a bubble, but everyone was - you didn't get to know anyone, everyone was distanced, and unless you were in a scene and the camera was rolling, everyone was very isolated from each other.

But yeah, it's like another one of those situations where you just can't believe that you're in it, and how fortunate you are to be in this position to watch these people work and to work with them is wonderful.

ROHAN: Since the show was streaming on Apple TV+, what was your initial reaction to the response the series was getting as it rolled out and started to get more eyeballs, especially after that "Oh shit!" cliffhanger finale?

DICHEN: I've actually been in London, back and forth, and in England, Apple TV hasn't sort of taken off, but I guess online, I saw people's reaction, and I was so happy. I was so happy that it paid off.

Ben, obviously, I’m going to say spoiler alert now, just in case there are people out there who haven't seen it. There is a cliffhanger moment on the show, which just, it made people really angry, and it made people really excited like, “How dare you end like that?!” I read the scripts for the whole show in the Jurassic bubble hotel. It's sort of like one thing led to the other and I just couldn't put them down. I knew what the ending was going to be when I met with Ben, but I hadn't read anything, and so it was one of the most fun, exciting TV show scripts I've ever read.

I'm so grateful that you love it, and I hope that more and more people because of all the nominations, see the show, because it's shot like a film. Someone asked me earlier, what's the difference between shooting a film and all the shows that you've done, and it's the time that they take, on a movie, you might shoot one or two pages a day, if you're lucky three, but in TV, usually, it's like seven, eight, nine pages, depending on the show, and everything's just like, boom, boom, boom, and it's kind of rushed.

But on Severance, even though it's television, Ben is so specific and so precise about his work that it was shot like a movie, we took so much time to just play and explore, and there was not one detail, that was not thought about, and when you talk to Dan, or to the production designer or to Ben, there is a reason why anything is in the frame, or anything is in the story. There's nothing that's arbitrary. Everything has a reason. So, it's been really exciting to work in a TV space where you can tell a story over a longer period of time, but it functions like a film in terms of the effort and the detail that you're able to put into it because of the people who are involved.

ROHAN: Following Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Supergirl, have you auditioned for any other superhero projects or would you be interested in returning to those comic book worlds?

DICHEN: I have not auditioned for any superhero stuff. There was something I auditioned for that was sort of in that space, but the dates didn't work out. I would absolutely love to be more in the comic book space. Maybe this sounds weird to say, but I think I really fit into that world, and I'm just waiting for the phone to ring and be like, “Hey, they want you to audition for this superhero in a DC or Marvel thing.”

I know I played characters in the TV, like universe, but I feel like I'm pretty easy to transform, and I could absolutely come back in either of those worlds as a completely different character, with help from hair and makeup. I love playing in that space. I'm a huge fan myself of the genre, and so for me, it's like, yes! If there are fans reading this article, write to the people who make the decisions on Twitter or whatever, and tell them. Let's mobilize!

Because I do, I love that space, and, it might not sound like I'm an artsy actor. I am, but I also just like having fun, and I love the fan world. I meet fans all the time. I have amazing conversations with them. Sometimes we're pen pals and we keep in touch with each other, I think we do it, well, I do it for the fans and because I'm a fan myself, not to say I don't like the artsy stuff, obviously I do, but I think that it's such a fun place to explore ideas about our society and question things and - but in a fun, adventurous way where you escape into another world.

ROHAN: Circling back to the beginning, what was your earliest memory of Jurassic Park and what does it mean to you be apart of the franchise's legacy moving forward?

DICHEN: I can't remember how old, but I was a kid, and my dad and my mom and my cousin went to the Hindley Street Theater in Adelaide, and I’d only been in Australia recently from Nepal. So, that was like another world. We went to the theater, which was something I'd never really done as a person before, period, and we went to see Jurassic Park, and my mind was blown, and my dad, none of us had ever seen anything like it, no one had, it was just so - the scale of it was just enormous, and it's not like now with kids, they're so used to seeing massive visual effects and stuff that it's almost normal for them.

But for me, it was completely new, and I was a huge fan, and then I got to experience it again when my daughter was like 18 months, she, by accident, saw some of the movie and just fell in love with it, and, watched it 100 times and watched all the other ones and would sing the theme song, in her bed at night before she passed out. I got to experience her love of the franchise.

It's been so extraordinary to actually now be a part of it, again, it's a surreal experience. I mean, to this day, I still don't quite even believe that it even happened. I have to remind myself when my daughter's got my little action figure or Lego figurine that I am now part of this. I mean, it's really historic, it's extraordinary. I mean, it's what three decades? With all these these movies, and people just absolutely, like I said, people of my generation, they remember who they saw it with. They remember which theatre, they remember how they felt afterwards, and there's something about all of the films that just bring that child-like excitement and fascination out.

In our review of Colin Trevorrow's franchise capper, we said "Jurassic World: Dominion is pure dinosaur mayhem at its finest, 100% fueled by nostalgia and amplified by epic dinosaur action, making it one of the more fun films of the summer. Due to a so-so story, enjoyment will likely heavily depend on your investment in the series, but if you’re looking for two hours of chaotic entertainment, then this is definitely the film for you."

The star-studded cast of the Jurassic World: Dominion features Jurassic alums Chris Pratt (Owen Grady), Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire Dearing), 3x Golden Globe-nominee Sam Neill (Alan Grant), Academy Award-winner Laura Dern (Ellie Sattler), Academy Award-nominee Jeff Goldblum (Ian Malcolm), BD Wong (Dr. Henry Wu), Omar Sy (Barry Sembane), Justice Smith (Franklin Webb), Daniella Pineda (Zia Rodriguez), and Isabella Sermon (Maisie Lockwood).

Newcomers to the franchise include DeWanda Wise (She's Gotta Have It) as Kayla Watts, Mamoudou Athie (Sorry for Your Loss) as Ramsay Cole, Campbell Scott (The Amazing Spider-Man) as Dr. Lewis Dodgson, Scott Haze (Venom) as Rainn Delacourt, Dichen Lachman (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Soyona Santos, Kristoffer Polaha (Wonder Woman 1984) as Wyatt Huntley, Elva Trill (Starstruck) as Charlotte Lockwood, Dimitri Thivalos in an undisclosed role, and Varada Sethu (Now You See Me 2) as Shira.

This summer, experience the epic conclusion to the Jurassic era as two generations unite for the first time. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are joined by Oscar®-winner Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill in Jurassic World Dominion, a bold, timely and breathtaking new adventure that spans the globe. From Jurassic World architect and director Colin Trevorrow, Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live—and hunt—alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.

The Jurassic World: Dominion - Extended Edition is now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD! 

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