He has been in so many summer blockbusters and saved the world so many times you might think that even two dimensions was one too many for him. But no surprise, Jeff Goldblum, wry, knowing smile et al, is as profound as you care to go. We love him!
by Zi Alikhan
photography by David Drebin
As an actor nominated for both an Oscar and an Emmy, a man who has tread all the boards from stage to film to television, a human being fortunate enough to experience life amongst the dinosaurs, I was expecting Jeff Goldblum to have the voice of someone who’d “been there done that,” someone more interested in reading his own IMDB than being interviewed for an article. But Goldblum’s excited, friendly voice came at me, and I was put at ease. Yes, Jeff Goldblum has “been there done that,” but that doesn’t stop him from reveling in the excitement of the things he has yet to do, and the things he can do again.
Goldblum moved to New York City from the Pittsburgh suburbs at 17 to study acting with legend Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse. The only other time Goldblum had been to the city before the big move was a family vacation in fourth grade that included the Rockettes, beatniks, and a charcoal portrait that he still hangs onto today. With a little help from his parents (“(they) kind of set me up… very supportive”), Goldblum moved into his first apartment on the Upper East Side, “ just a little tiny place” with a sticker price of $250 a month. He was within walking distance from school at the Playhouse, and he was in heaven. “Forget about acting,” he recalls, “this was an incredible adventure. It was the first time I was living by myself. It was a whole wonderful experience.”
Not long into his stay in New York, Goldblum became acquainted with some big names through the Neighborhood Playhouse, and these connections led to early work that any young actor would boast about having on their resume, from a debut on Broadway with Joseph Papp in the musical version of Two Gentlemen of Verona to a brief, but memorable, role in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. It was also during this period that Goldblum would meet some of his talented contemporaries, like Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose work he describes as “incredible.”
This early career blossomed into the Goldblum that we know now, a crafty and intelligent character actor who knows how to leave a lasting impression with both excellent execution of a script and a mischievous sideways smile. There is something very deep about the characters Goldblum takes on, something in his eyes that implies not only an actor who works tirelessly for his craft, but a human with substance behind every role.
Goldblum’s substance came to the forefront as we discussed the American political frontier as trail-blazed by President Obama. When I asked him about the current state of the National Healthcare plan in our country, he seemed very optimistic. Though it’s something he considers “a very complicated issue,” he is very clear about the “very, very strong feeling in my stomach and blood and soul in support” of the progress made by President Obama. “The work that they’ve done to get here, Obama’s leadership in particular – I love it, I’m very excited and optimistic about it.”
Goldblum believes that this progress on the healthcare front, and that the debates that have surrounded it, though tense and polarizing at times, have given a healthy wake up call to the American political conscience, especially the need for education when it comes to making decision that affect our social and economic climate. “It saddens me when stupidity is glamorized in any way, masquerading as ‘regular-guyism,” he stated. He gives his full support to the president, saying “I think Obama is a member of the best and brightest as far as I’m concerned, and I’d like to see the whole culture moving in that direction. You know, no celebration of our stupidity or courseness or hatefulness or intolerance, small-mindedness.”
It is with this sense of education and knowledge that Goldblum seems to be approaching the current state of his life and career. When asked about his costars in his upcoming summer film Morning Glory, Goldblum had nothing but compliments to bestow upon his junior castmate Rachel McAdams, as well as veterans Harrison Ford and Dianne Keaton. Of his fellow actors on the project, Goldblum remarked “working with the best and highest-class of actors like that is a real learning experience.” And it’s not just other actors Goldblum feels this way about. Through his many years in the city, Goldblum feels like he’s grown both as a person and as a performer, and that there’s something truly special about living in New York right now. “I hope I’ve grown from my experiences a bit, but in a way… I think I’m more excited to be here now, freer than ever, more alive than ever, if that’s possible.” Jeff Goldblum has certainly “been there, done that” plenty of times, but he is a man still seeking joy and finding it seemingly everywhere he turns.
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photography by David Drebin
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It saddens me when stupidity is glamorized in any way, masquerading as ‘regular-guyism.’