In a franchise filled with eternally quotable lines (“Life … finds a way,” “Don’t go in the long grass!”), Samuel L. Jackson delivered one of the most repeated in Jurassic Park. Hoping that the old turn-it-off-and-on-again approach will restart the park’s hacked computer system to its previously unhacked state, Jackson’s chain-smoking chief engineer, John Arnold, warns everyone, “Hold onto your butts.”
The line was inspired by another harrowing situation (albeit one that mercifully didn’t involve a T-Rex on the loose.) Jurassic Park screenwriter David Koepp told the Cinema Blend podcast that he borrowed the line from Robert Zemeckis. While he was writing Jurassic Park, Koepp was also working on Death Becomes Her, directed by Zemeckis. The original ending had gone down dismally at test screenings, leading to reshoots with no time to redo anything if something went wrong. “This was it, this really had to work,” Koepp emphasized.
As everyone gathered to watch the dailies, Zemeckis said, “Hold onto your butts.” And the rest was history. “I went back, and I typed it into the script immediately, and then Sam Jackson said it,” Koepp remembered. “I don’t think I ever told Zemeckis that, but that’s his line.” Just in case you thought there was one ’80s or ’90s blockbuster that had nothing to do with the Back to the Future director, well, nope.