When the earth-shaking roars of “Jurassic Park” echoed through cinemas in 1993, audiences were not only captivated by the lifelike dinosaurs but also by the spirited young actress who played Lex Murphy, the granddaughter of the park’s creator. Ariana Richards’ portrayal of the tech-savvy, dinosaur-evading teenager etched her into the minds of a generation. But as the Jurassic franchise continued to evolve, bringing new stories and characters to the screen, many fans have found themselves wondering: Whatever happened to the girl who outsmarted velociraptors with a Unix system?
Ariana Richards was born on September 11th, 1979. She is a descendant of the Italian Renaissance painter Carlo Crivelli. Her ancestry has had a profound impact on her as she’s been painting all her life.
She began acting when she was just seven years old and scouted to play a ballerina in a commercial for a hair studio. Shortly after she starred in her first film role as Kimberly Mays in the TV movie Switched as Birth. The film is about two families who both brought the wrong children home from the hospital. They only find out when one of them is ill and tragically passes away. Richards even won the Best Young Actress award for her role.
She won the same award again the following year when she starred in Locked Up: A Mother’s Rage where she played Kelly, the young daughter of a woman who was wrongfully framed for dealing drugs by a man she was dating.
In the early 90s, she went on to star in several other films such as Tremors, Spaced Invaders, and Timescape. She also made guest appearances on shows like Boy Meets World and The Golden Girls.
Her most notable role was playing Lex Murphy in Steven Spielberg’s classic blockbuster Jurassic Park. Her character was one of the grandchildren of the founder of the park, Hammond. She spent the majority of the film with her co-stars Laura Dern and Sam Neill running and hiding from the dinosaurs. She even managed to steal the show in the kitchen scene where she and he brother are hiding from the velociraptors. Lex was a tech-savvy teenager who managed to save the day when she was able to use the park’s computers to the advantage of the group.
Richards reprised the role in the 1997 sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The second of three films in the original franchise was largely the same premise as the first, but it starred Jeff Goldbulm’s character Dr. Ian Malcom alongside new names like Julianne Moore and Vince Vaughn.
After Jurassic Park
Immediately after Jurrasic Park, Richards would star in the high school comedy-drama, Angus. The movie was praised by critics, however it only made $4.8 million at the box office. She would go on to have small roles in tv shows and tv movies during the last part of the 90s.
Her last film credit before a ten year hiatus was in 2001 for the reprisal of her character Mindy Sterngood in Tremors 3, which went straight to video.
In 2013 she returned to acting and was cast as Donna Voorhees in the TV movie Battledogs, a film about a werewolf virus that plagues the nations. Richards hasn’t been in any other films since.
What is Ariana Richards doing now?
When she isn’t working in film, she is likely painting. She’s loved painting her entire life, she even painted a watercolor self-portrait from her iconic Jell-o scene in Jurassic Park and gifted it to Steven Spielberg and he hung it in his house. She went to college to study the arts and graduated with an art degree from Skidmore College. Since then she has been pursuing her visual arts career instead of her acting.
Her art style is inspired by early impressionists like Van Gogh and Monet, but she infuses her oil paintings with Baroque and Italian Renaissance styles much like her ancestor Crivelli. She tends to paint portraits and landscapes and has even won awards for several of her paintings. Her website features all of her work, and you can even purchase some of her paintings. There’s also an option to have one commissioned!
When asked about why she no longer acts in interviews, Richards has told fans that acting is in her blood and she loves it, but she just prefers to focus her attention on painting.
While she’s made a name for herself in film and acting, she also dabbled a bit in music. In the 90s she produced an album that was released only in Japan with a limited printing of records. It’s currently out of print and it’s still even rare to find on the internet.
She currently lives in Oregon where she can surround herself with nature and paint beautiful landscapes. She married her husband Mark Aaron Bolton in 2013. He’s an Irish stuntman who’s worked on a few television shows like Grimm and Z Nation. The couple has one daughter together.
You can follow her on Instagram to see more of her day-to-day life as she documents herself attending fan conventions, going to brunch, and on red carpets for new Jurassic World premiere events.