In honor of the 20th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster hit Jurassic Park – which is being rereleased on the big screen in 3D on Friday – PEOPLE catches up with the film’s child stars, Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards.
For Mazzello, now 29, the days spent filming with Spielberg in Hawaii marked “the greatest time of my life,” he recalls. “My time with Steven on Jurassic Park affected where I wanted to go to school and what I wanted to do with my life.”
After Jurassic Park, Mazzello starred in a string of hit movies, including The River Wild with Meryl Streep, and enrolled at the University of Southern California in 2001.
“Steven wrote me a recommendation for USC to go to film school. Believe it or not, I got in,” he says with a laugh. “He’s been there for me throughout my life whenever I really needed him.”
Mazzello reteamed with Spielberg for HBO’s miniseries The Pacific in 2010 and costarred on the big screen that same year in The Social Network, as Dustin Moskovitz. Recently, he guest-starred on FX’s Justified and appears in the just-released G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
The actor, who lives in L.A. and is in a steady relationship, insists he never brings up Jurassic Park as a way to meet women. “The more they know about that, the less I’m into them. You never know what people’s motives are,” he says. “If the first approach or the first meeting is about me being from the movie, then I’m like, ‘No.’ ”
Ariana Richards, 33, who played Mazzello’s big sister Lex, is a professional painter who runs her own studio in Oregon, called Gallery Ariana. “When clients find out I was in Jurassic, they get really excited,” says Richards, who creates portraits and landscapes paintings.
Working on Jurassic Park inspired her to paint her first water color painting.
“I wanted to boil down the whole experience of Jurassic into my art. I painted an image of me from the Jell-O scene,” she says. “I ended up presenting Steven with one of my paintings at the end of filming. He still has them.”
A newlywed, Richards married her boyfriend, Mark Bolton, last January in Oregon, where Grammy nominated composer and pianist David Lanz performed at her big celebration.
“Life is good. No kids yet but we’re planning on it,” she says. “I’m very happy.”