Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous: Paul-Mikél Williams & Raini Rodriguez Talk Final Season Surprises

This past weekend saw the final return of Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, the Netflix animated series that has spun out of the landmark Jurassic World film franchise. As the saga's first television spinoff and a narrative bridge between Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the series has proved to be a unique addition to the canon, all while introducing viewers to a lovable ragtag group of campers. Among them are Darius Bowman (Paul-Mikél Williams) and Sammy Gutierrez (Raini Rodriguez), both of whom go on some pretty significant arcs by the time that the series draws to a close.

In celebration of Camp Cretaceous' recent final season premiere, ComicBook.com got a chance to chat with Williams and Rodriguez about the series' swan song, and the ability to give the show's fandom a proper ending. We also spoke about the biggest moments in that ending — including a long-awaited new romance and a surprising time jump.

(Photo: Netflix)

ComicBook.com: First and foremost, I wanted to ask you both — what was it like, after all of these seasons of being on the show and having the fan response, getting to have a proper ending for these characters?

Raini Rodriguez: It's great. It really is. It's so awesome. The fans have welcomed us with open arms, so to be able to give them what we hope is a great finale, for sure. We believe in it so much. At this point, they've stuck with us this long. Five seasons in, I really hope they respond to it as well as we did when we were recording it. It's just great. And at a time like this, I think we really bond over watching these — essentially — kids experience all these adventures with all these dinosaurs. I find myself rooting for the dinosaurs sometimes, too, even though they're destructive. I'm like. "Oh, but the dinosaurs are so cute too." So it's really exciting to see the fans' response, and hopefully they love this season as well. It's definitely a love letter to them, for sure.

Paul-Mikel Williams: The journey has been absolutely insane, and that's in a good way. I mean, I've loved every single episode that we've done up to this point, over the entire course of the five seasons. Just getting the opportunity to inspire people and say that they're not alone, and having so much diversity in the show — along with the chemistry that we have ourselves, when we're recording together — it was such a surreal experience to be in. For the people that don't know, this was my first major opportunity that I've gotten in voiceover, and to have such a welcoming cast and crew. Shout out to Raini Rodriguez, who is right here on my screen.

Just the fact that, like what Raini said, the fans [have been] welcoming us with open arms and [are] having so much excitement for this show. It was definitely a nervous experience going into such a huge franchise with this new animated show, when Jurassic has never done a mainstream animated show like this. It's just been an amazing experience to live through.

You touched on it a little bit — what has it been like to kind of add diversity and more representation to this franchise?

Williams: First of all, I've always got to give a shout out to the cast and crew, because they're just as diverse as the characters that we play. Like I said before, the fact that we get to appeal to such a wide community and show people that they're not alone. The Black kid that loves dinosaurs. Sammy, being Latinx and from Texas with a big Latinx family. Yasmina, who's a track star. Brooklynn, who's a social media influencer. Definitely, it's a wide range. And having that wide range, we get a lot of fan letters that often make me emotional, saying that people appreciate that there's so much diversity, and saying "We appreciate you having characters that I can relate to," because they don't often see that in a lot of shows. I just, I have no words for it at the moment.

Rodriguez: I agree with Paul, I think the right word is "relatable." It really is. To see somebody that resembles you on screen is really special, especially in something as huge as Jurassic. To kind of come in here, not only, like he said as a diverse cast, but our diverse crew behind the scenes as well. So many people in the industry, and not only just with ethnicity, but LGBTQ+ representation. There's so much that this show gives to everybody, and I think that's really special to see yourself on screen in something as big as Jurassic. With each of our characters, it shows you that you don't, you don't have to be afraid to be who you are. You can showcase who you are. And if sometimes that might fall towards a stereotype, that's okay. But if you're also totally against the norm of what people think you should be, that's also okay, too.

I think it's really interesting watching us grow over the last five seasons, because you think you know us from season one, and then you watch us in season five, and we've grown and we've changed. We've developed positively and negatively as characters, as real-life people. Because at the end of the day, that's who we are. We're people, we're kids, we're teenagers. We're growing. And I think that comes with making mistakes and learning about your place in the world, and in our case, in the show. We don't really have much to go off of the outside world, other than the six of us. So to kind of come together as a family and learn from each other, but at the same time, celebrate our differences, I think that's so important to showcase.

Sammy, especially, is a firm believer on just being who you are, and that is enough. She is so happy with what everybody brings to the table, whether it's a little bit or a lot, because she'll just make up for whatever is missing in her personality. So I think that's really special to showcase that, because I think it's a great message to send to people at home — that you matter, who you are is enough. You don't have to be somebody else. If you have a problem, talk about it. If you're in the mood to have fun and join the adventure, then go for it. Just being who you are is enough, and I love that our show gets to showcase that.

I cheered when Sammy and Yaz finally got together — that was such an adorable storyline, it was so well executed. Raini, what was it like for you to be able to play that and kind of have that happen?

Rodriguez: They were picking up on some Sammy and Yaz vibes all the way back from season one. They're so attentive. And they would send these things to Yaz, to Kausar and I, and instead of liking them, because we didn't even know at that point what would happen, what was the endgame. As we were recording it, we would kind of pick up on vibes as well. We would do a couple of different takes where there was extra vibes thrown in, and then other takes where there wasn't, because we didn't know where they wanted to go with it, and we just gave them all the options and they could choose. So Kausar and I would see some fan art and things like that, [and] instead of liking it – because then the fans would run with it and be like, "It's confirmed. They just confirmed it," and we didn't even know what to confirm – we would just send it to each other, back and forth, all day long. Kausar and I would just send each other screenshots of things that we found on the Internet that we thought was amazing that they were picking up on it.

When I read that, I was giddy with excitement. I mean, it just felt like such a natural move to make. These two girls, in this world together, opposites attract. They really brought out the best in each other, of really caring for each other in more ways than one. And then it really brought me back to season three with Scorpios Rex and that kind of stuff. If you go back with what you know now, and then go back and watch that episode, when Yaz has to go get the antidote for Sammy, it just brings on a whole new level of emotion. When you go back and watch it, and you're like, "Whoa, okay, wait a minute. There's definitely some vibes happening here." Kausar and I were just elated, and we recorded that episode together, and it was really special to have that. Of course, it was via Zoom, but to be able to record that together, I mean, we were both crying. It was just so beautiful. It was such a great moment. I really hope the fans really love it, because I feel like a lot of it was their voice speaking up on what they wanted to see, and our creative team behind there just 100% being behind it. And then, of course, bringing it up to Kausar and I, and we were a 100% all for it. It felt so great and amazing. I shipped them a lot. I've always shipped Yaz and Sammy. I just couldn't say it out loud. We would talk about it in recordings, but I couldn't say it out loud. So now that I can, it feels really nice.

One of the other great relationships this season, more on a bromance level, is Darius and Kenji. Their dynamic is really fun, just seeing the evolution of it in the season. Paul, for you, what was it like to further develop that and get it to the point where it is by the end of the series?

Williams: Darius and Kenji are one of the most on-and-off relationships that have been like crazy over the seasons. Especially, from season one, we definitely saw a little bit of conflict with them. And then in seasons two and three, we started to see a developing bromance relationship, where they were just having fun and chilling. People were starting to get into their elements, and start to be comfortable with each other.

In season five, we start to see Kenji and Darius start to connect on a greater level, because of this new relationship that Kenji and Brooklynn have. You can see Darius start to get excited over it, because he's finally experiencing a normal life event that isn't related to running from dinosaurs or trying to save dinosaurs. He gets kind of the semblance of normalcy that he can finally live with, and that also stretches into Yasmina and Sammy. But when their relationship is kind of tested, it's a moment for Darius to realize that there's not always going to be a perfect relationship between them, and sometimes familial matters might get in the way of it. What really warmed my heart was near the end, when Kenji like comes to his senses, once his dad betrays him, Darius is reluctant about it, but after a while he realizes that he's still his bro. Their relationship has always been one of my favorites — a very close second to the Yasmina and Sammy, because I always ship them. But yeah, just to see a relationship between two male figures like that, it's always been something that I've adored, because it's chill.

What was your initial reaction when you read the final scene of the finale and saw the time jump? What was your response to that?

Williams: Me and my mom were watching it together — we were actually watching it together yesterday, and she was super emotional about it, because she also kind of saw it as like an end to the series. For the longest time, she was going into the room with me. But seeing everybody older and more developed and kind of back to normal — I don't remember how big of a time jump it is, but all I know is that Darius is 16, and I'm 16 now. The opportunity to grow up with Darius, and experience life with Darius and as Darius has been such a journey for me. When I recorded that final scene, I think the most liberating part about it was [showrunner] Scott [Kreamer] saying, "Okay, you can stop pitching your voice now." Because I was going through a major voice change when I was doing this show, and every single line was like a voice crack. I am not kidding you.

But yeah, just to get the opportunity to see Darius, and play Darius as an older character that's happy with the way that he's turned out, doing TED Talks and being a scientist. Well, probably not TED Talks, I think it's copyrighted or whatever. But yeah, just seeing Darius in his element, responding to comments, and getting to that point where he's living his dream of being the scientist that he always wanted to be. It's an indescribable — is that the word? It's an indescribable experience for me.

Rodriguez: Yeah, I think it's great. I always get so sad when it comes to endings like this, and I think it really was a great ending of just, at the end of the day, letting everyone know that they're okay. They're doing well and they survived. At the end of the day, them being together, they survived. Them talking to each other, them still keeping in touch with each other. Sammy's big motto is "Camp Fam for life." And I really feel like, for me, that's the message I got — Camp Fam for life. Their dreams and their hopes and aspirations, they're coming true. The relationships they built, they've stuck through it.

That's just a great ending of just, not so like, "And they lived happily ever after," but in my way, it's like . You just saw them for five seasons, just get chased by dinosaurs continuously. Not just that, [but] dino dogs, and robot dogs, and Scorpios Rexes, and so many things that these kids had to just fight against. And at the end of the day, to see them — although still spread out — back to where they were sort of in their sense of normal, they're still together. Camp Fam for life. That was the vibe I got, and to me that was a great ending. It just kind of showed the fans "We're good. Here we are still moving, still going a little bit older, but here we go."


All five seasons of Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous are now streaming exclusively on Netflix.