How a Letter to Steven Spielberg Changed This Jurassic Park Fan’s Life
He's now a writer on SNL with a thriving acting career.
It’s been 25 years since Steven Spielberg‘s 1993 blockbuster, Jurassic Park, first hit theaters. The film, which earned $1,038,812,584 worldwide, became an instant classic, spawned a franchise that continues to this day, and inspired several generations of kids to become obsessed with dinosaurs. (No word on if paleontology as a career path has proliferated since, however.) But for SNL writer Andrew Briedis, the film had an even greater impact; it set him on a career trajectory that got him to where he is today.
This week, Briedis shared the story of why the film means so much to him (and why he has a baby raptor tattoo on his leg) in an inspiring Twitter thread that is going viral:
“I was a kid when Jurassic Park came out, and I was kinda a punk kid who cried a lot and hated trying new things,” he wrote. “I had just quit sports, and my mom wanted to get me interested in literally anything because I had all of this energy and nowhere to put it.”
His mother asked him if he wanted to audition for a play in the youth theater, and his response was a resounding no. Then he saw Jurassic Park, and everything changed.
“I’m like ‘why am I not in this movie.’ I could play this kid’s role, easy. I wanted it so badly.” He spent that entire summer “crying my eyes out and ruining our family road trip” because he was so angry he wasn’t in the film.
It taught him an important lesson.
“Have you ever loved something so hard, you cry yourself to sleep because you’re not a part of it? That was the first time I learned about this thing in life people have to deal with for like, forever.”
But it also made him realize what he wanted to do with his life.
“I saw Jurassic Park in the theaters nine times that summer, which really was a lot because my family didn’t have much money. And I would stay to the end of the credits each time, picturing my name scrolling up on that screen. One day, I hoped to see my name scrolling on a screen.”
Fed up with his complaining, his mother finally exasperatedly told him, “Well if you want to be in Jurassic Park that badly, why don’t you just write Steven Spielberg and ask him to be in the next one?”
Somehow, this hero mother found Spielberg’s production company and address (remember, this is before the time of Google), and Briedis did indeed write the letter.
“I wrote Steven Spielberg, in terrible child handwriting, a letter that explained how much I would love to be in Jurassic Park 2 or 3, should there be one. And that my great uncle was best friends with Cary Grant and was in movies back in the 30s, so Hollywood was in my blood.”
Shockingly, a few weeks later, he got a response from the company’s head of PR, thanking him for his enthusiasm and explaining how the casting process works. They advised him to find an agent, and wished him great success in his future acting career.
A few weeks later I got this letter from the head of PR of Amblin Entertainment. pic.twitter.com/HKSLECYdAl
— Andrew Briedis (@AndrewBriedis) June 11, 2018
“After reading it, I immediately went to my mom and said, ‘I would like to audition for the play now.’ And that is how I got into theater. Because someone important took the time to help a kid.”
Briedis has yet to appear in the Jurassic Park films, but he’s a writer on SNL, and recently had a role in the hit series The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, so it’s safe to say his career is on the up-and-up, all thanks to the film and the subsequent letter he received. And his childhood dream came true.
“Jurassic Park set off a series of events in my life that led me from acting to writing, and 25 years later, I found myself at the season finale of SNL, where I got to see my name scrolling on a screen for the first time. And Steven Spielberg was in the audience.”
To commemorate this auspicious moment in his young life, Briedis got a tattoo on his leg of a raptor hatching out of an egg, based on Stan Winston‘s original art for the film.
For context, this is the tattoo. It’s based on Stan Winston’s original art for the film, by the incredible Dan Bones of East Side Ink. pic.twitter.com/AXNl5FjOvJ
— Andrew Briedis (@AndrewBriedis) June 11, 2018
The tattoo serves as “a reminder of the first major lesson my mom taught me: If you want something bad enough, go straight to the source. Don’t waste your time wondering. Dream bigger than you can imagine.”
It’s not the first time a movie and a small act of kindness has resulted in a real-life miracle. For instance, back in December, screenwriter Ed Solomon shared a heartwarming story about how Mark Hamill went out of his way to make a terminally ill kid’s dream come true.
And for more wacky behind-the-scenes trivia, learn the 30 Shocking Behind-the-Scenes Facts from Your Favorite Movies.
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