While plenty of kids celebrate their birthdays with dinosaur themes, only one can say he did so while being chased by a giant raptor!
As Tim in the 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park, actor Joe Mazzello had the chance to get up close and personal with some lifelike dinosaurs. Stranded on an island during a dino outbreak with sister Lex (Ariana Richards) and guide Grant (Sam Neill), Mazzello’s character even had one memorable scene where he fed a hungry brachiosaurus.
But on his 9th birthday, he found himself running from a dinosaur off-camera.
The event happened while filming the iconic kitchen chase scene – which just happened to fall on his big day.
“It was this huge machine on wheels,” the actor, now 32, tells PEOPLE of the mechanical “raptors” used. “I’m supposed to go left, it’s supposed to go right. One time I went left and I turned around and they had lost control of it and I was knocked down.”
“[Director] Steven Spielberg said, ‘Okay, I think here’s the perfect time for us all to sing Happy Birthday,’ ” he continued. “The crew sang ‘Happy Birthday’ while I was lying on the ground.”
For more on Joe Mazzello pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE
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Mazzello – who also appeared in HBO’s WWII series The Pacific – recently made his directorial debut with the ensemble dramedy Undrafted. He says his childhood spent on sets with directors like Spielberg was better than film school.
“I’ve taken something I think from all the great directors I’ve worked with,” he explains.
Undrafted – which Mazzello wrote, directed and costarred in – is based on the real life experiences of his brother Joe, a collegiate baseball star who was skipped over in the Major League Baseball draft. “It’s funny, but out of nowhere it pulls at your heartstrings,” Mazzello says.
Undrafted is currently available to download or stream on all digital platforms and features a slew of familiar TV faces like: Aaron Tveit (Grease: Live!, Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf), and Chace Crawford.