Jeff Goldblum bestrides the planet at an impressive 6’4 1/2 inches (roughly), with an openness to new adventures and experiences perhaps more expected in a person of 27 than his 67. He is, in short (or tall), curious—about a lot of things.
“I like to ask questions and I’m interested in the answers, I’m seeking answers,” Goldblum assures Deadline. “There’s so many books that I’ve never read and movies that I’ve never seen and pieces of music that I haven’t heard, that I just have an appetite for it.”
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His appetite for learning extends well beyond literature, movies and music, as evidenced in his documentary series streaming on the Disney+ platform, The World According to Jeff Goldblum. The show is Emmy-nominated for Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special, with recognition going to Goldblum as executive producer and host, as well as half a dozen fellow executive producers and producers, including Jane Root, former president of Discovery Networks.
Each of the first season’s 12 episodes finds Goldblum exploring a different topic, such as ice cream (he likes), coffee (he’s off the roasted bean, but curious about it), sneakers (he wears them), and bikes. He and two-wheelers go way back.
“I remember being very young and having a romance with my bike and with piano and all kinds of stuff like that,” he recalls. “I was always easily excitable and very interested.”
In the ice cream episode Goldblum travels to Vermont to meet the creators of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. Then he jets across the country to Portland to hang with Tyler Malek, co-founder and “head ice cream maker” at Salt & Straw. Together they traipse the Oregon woods in search of oxalis (sounds like a hallucinogen, but it’s actually a wild wood sorrel) to concoct a bit of frosty deliciousness. The point is, Goldblum is truly engaged with each subject, interacting with people he meets—not a lordly host pontificating from a closed set.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum reflects “my appetite for spontaneity and just mixing it up with real people,” Goldblum observes, “instead of something standard where I just get in the studio and read the teleprompter stuff.”
Goldblum is also a hugger, a habit of being that may have to be modified when the show returns for its second season. Deadline reported on the show’s renewal from the TCA’s in January, back before the COVID-19 pandemic had fully gripped the U.S., reducing huggers to mere elbow bumpers.
“All of our lives, of course, have changed in that way and in many other ways. It’s changed and changing. We shall see,” Goldblum observes. “But, of course, there are [other] ways that you can connect with people… And our mysterious capacity for intimacy is the sky’s the limit. At least, I like to think so. Even if we’re not touching. Touching is one thing that you can do, but it sure isn’t the only thing.”
This is undoubtedly a great time to be Jeff Goldblum. He is not only an Emmy nominee, but he stars in the distinctive Apartments.com ads as the urbane and slightly mysterious “Brad Bellflower.” And when Deadline reached him by phone on Monday he had sneakers on the ground in Britain to shoot the latest Jurassic World film, co-starring Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. It’s one of the first large-scale Hollywood productions to lens in the midst of the coronavirus, and Goldblum says copious safety protocols are in place.
“They spent a lot of money, millions of dollars apparently, and have the best and brightest people and put their heart and soul into making it safe and letting us try to do this during this period,” the actor notes. ”It’s thrilling to do it.”
Goldblum says his wife and young children are with him in the UK. From the sound of it, the youngsters are a chip off the old block.
“I’ve got a five-year-old boy, Charlie, and a three-year-old, River,” he shares, ”and I don’t know—maybe all kids are like this—but they seem particularly, vibrantly curious and hungry for learning and fascinated by life.”
Goldblum recalls first becoming interested in the dramatic arts as a high schooler in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“I was just focused and wildly open-hearted, kind of crazy about this idea of being an actor,” he comments. “I would write on the steamy shower door every morning, ‘Please, God, let me be an actor.’”
He did some impish improv back then on the streets of Pittsburgh.
“I would see people coming up the sidewalk, strangers, and pretend to know them. And I would act out, ‘Oh my gosh, look who it is!’ and I’d go up to them,” he remembers. “I guess I sort of seemed credible here and there because they would stop and say, ‘Oh, really?’ I would approach people who interested me anyway. I’ve always had some kind of outgoing, adventurous, and overwhelming interest and curiosity about, and need to connect with, people.”
Goldblum landed a movie role in the first film he auditioned for, back in 1974, the Charles Bronson tough guy flick Death Wish. He played a young street punk messing with the wrong hombre.
“That was my billing… ‘Freak Number One,’” he says. “That was my character’s name… An auspicious start.”
These days the parts are more substantial, like the cerebral, ethical Ian Malcolm in Jurassic World: Dominion.
“I feel like even now I’m on the threshold of my best work,” Goldblum insists. “Seriously, I’m constantly grateful and not unaware that I’m lucky. And I’m trying to appreciate every precious moment… I do pinch myself. And if I pinched myself as much as I’m compelled to, I’d have black and blue marks. That’s how much I’m self-pinchy.”
Goldblum adds he feels grateful “to actually work in good movies with good people and get a chance to get better and keep doing it continually and continue to grow into what seems like now my own creative growth spurt, which is as enjoyable to me and I think as fruitful as it’s ever been, creatively.”
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