What’s it like being a veterinarian to a dinosaur? Just ask Daniella Pineda, who plays Dr. Zia Rodriguez in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the whip-smart vet who helps Owen (Chris Pratt), Claire (Bryce Dallas-Howard) and tech whiz Franklin (Justice Smith) try and save the dinosaurs, including Owen’s raptor pal, Blue.

ScreenPicks’ Kit Bowen talked with Pineda about what she learned about taking care of reptiles, being in a Jurassic movie and more!

Kit Bowen: I adored this movie. I am like one of the biggest fans of the Jurassic Park franchise, but I’m curious, what does it take to be a dinosaur veterinarian?

Daniella Pineda: I think the biggest attribute for Zia Rodriguez, to play her, is to be accurate. So I worked with two different vets, one of them being a lovely man named Jonathan, who is a vet outside of London and who specialized in African reptilian wildlife. He basically taught me what it’s like to work with reptile skin, which would be the closest to what we might think of as a dinosaur. And he taught me how to suture and taught me how to hold tools, and I worked with him for several days. Even though it may look natural on screen, there was actually work that was put into that. Or even though it might look simple on screen, there was actually a lot of work behind that.

Bowen: What’s the one thing you kind of discovered about reptiles that sort of surprised you?

Pineda: A couple of things. One, reptiles have incredibly, incredibly dense skin. They also have an ancient immune system. So they are in the muck, they’re in the mud, they’re in the dirt. They have a profound immune system, which is how they’ve been able to live for so long and be around for so long. Apparently turtles are actually the same way. So that was something that made me respect them more than I already did. I used to be terrified of them. I love snakes and I love lizards. I think that they’re really cool, but like I’m not gonna be golfing in Florida and a big crocodile alligator monster’s gonna come after me.

Bowen: But, seriously, how much fun was it to be in a Jurassic Park movie?

Pineda: I mean it was just as amazing as a fan would imagine. I’m a fan, so it was just crazy to be a part of the thing I so revere and that I enjoy. You know, it was just as much a part of my childhood as it was anybody else’s, so, when I got that phone call, I just … it was unreal. It’s still unreal, I haven’t gotten used to it. I mean, it looks like I am used to it, but I not.

Bowen: Did you call up your family and go, “Guess what I’m gonna be doing?”

Pineda: Yeah, I bragged to everybody. I wasn’t even supposed to. I wasn’t even supposed to tell anyone, but I was like, “Yeah, right.” I’m gonna call my hundreds of family members and tell everybody.

Bowen: And you got work with the coolest dinosaur of them all, my favorite raptor Blue. How’d that work?

Pineda: Well, I got all of my biggest scenes with the massive Blue animatronic, in which it was nothing like an animatronic. If anything, it felt like that was a real animal. She took a long time to build. I think they worked on her for a year or over a year. So when you touched her skin, it felt like reptile skin. She was wet, her eyes would dilate when hit by light. She would blink, had pulsing veins. And she was operated by about 12 men underneath her. 12 puppeteers. Yeah it was pretty cool.

Bowen: Were there any people that worked on this one that had worked on some of the earlier ones?

Pineda: Yeah, a lot of the crew, like the stunt team I believe were the same. Obviously a lot of the same hair and makeup people. You know what was really lovely was getting to work with Frances Hannon, an Oscar-winning hair and makeup woman. Her team, those girls over there are just so cool, and they work on Star Wars. They work on everything and they’re just like these badass British women with shag haircuts and lots of bracelets and you know, they’re just as cool as they sound. But I just absolutely loved working with those women.

Bowen: Did you and Justice Smith hang out and have some fun off set?

Pineda: Yeah, Justice and I are buds, from the moment that we met it felt like my little brother. It was just so immediate of … and it was nice to have a friend. He and his girlfriend are both like the loveliest, sweetest, people. I would help Justice put his auditions in tape, you know when he was auditioning for other things while we were down there.

Bowen: What’s your favorite dinosaur out of all of them?

Pineda: I always say the baby triceratops. A chubby little baby triceratops, or pretty much any animal like that, that’s my soft spot.

Bowen: How about in general, are you a big animal person, you have lots of pets?

Pineda: Yes, I have two dogs. You know, it’s the little treasures in life that obviously makes you very, very happy. But what also makes me really happy is to have my dogs with me, they’re like my babies. And right now I’ve been away from them for most of the year. They’ve been with a family member, but if it were up to me I would have them with me. I’d love to be like the Queen of England and travel with eight Corgis. I wanna make enough money that I can have an entourage of thousands of animals.

Bowen: What was your take on the movie after you saw it all said and done?

Pineda: I already knew that the movie was just gonna be so jam-packed. And it was impressive to me because he managed to hold on to so many of the nostalgic motifs and it’s still very much a part of the franchise, but it’s also very much J.A. Bayona’s vision and that’s why [Steven] Spielberg picked him. Spielberg is a big Bayona fan. He loves his movies, and though that at this point and time the updated version, he wanted Bayona’s tone to continue the legacy.