Lessons on staying power from Jeff Goldblum

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Lessons on staying power from Jeff Goldblum
The Hollywood star on achieving longevity as an actor: ‘I still have an appetite for it and a humility about it and a desire to get better. And maybe that’s why I’m okay so far.’

MANILA, Philippines — Talking with Jeff Goldblum about his latest film Jurassic World Dominion, touted as the 29-year-old Jurassic franchise’s finale, you couldn’t help but look back on the actor’s own enduring career in Hollywood.

It’s hard to believe but his bio tells us that Goldblum has been acting for close to 50 years. He began in bit roles, making his onscreen debut as a thug in a 1974 film titled Death Wish (a video clip of which is available on YouTube), before starring in some of the longest-running franchises and highest-grossing movies.

These included playing the fan-favorite character, the mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm, who was introduced in Jurassic Park in 1993, the first film in the original dinosaur trilogy. He was back in the subsequent reboot Jurassic World (2015) and sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018).

The 69-year-old reprises his now-iconic role in Dominion and you’ll see him still devoted to studying the “chaos theory.” Director Colin Trevorrow noted that Goldblum is similar to his character in that the actor shared the belief that the “fate of humanity rests in the next generation’s hands,” as well as of what power represents and “the danger of holding it in your hands.” The film, still showing in Philippine cinemas, most recently breached the $600-million mark at the global box-office.

During a recent virtual chat, The STAR asked how — just like the sci-fi adventure franchise — Goldblum was able to achieve staying power in showbiz.

“I’m just lucky. Except that from the very start, I was burning up with a kind of obsession for this acting thing. I just caught the acting bug or something early on. And you know, I’ve told the story before but it was a secret. I kept it a secret all throughout high school, and I would take a shower every morning and we had a steamy door, upon which I would write, ‘Please God, let me be an actor!’ And then, before I left the shower, I would wipe it off so nobody could find it,” the veteran star revealed.

“I was just hoping against hope that I could get a chance to do this thing. So maybe that played a part. If I was so committed to and deeply enraptured with it, maybe that attracted opportunities along the way and made some things happen,” he added.

Goldblum also believes having good mentors was critical to the growth of his career. “I just was very lucky to get good teachers. I had good training. This teacher, Sanford Meisner, was my teacher early on, and I had other good teachers,” he said, referring to the American actor and acting teacher who developed the legendary Meisner technique. It is defined in acting schools as an approach to acting instruction where actors learn not to focus on themselves and instead put their attention on other actors in their immediate environment.

“I worked hard at it and learned how to work. And I discovered and developed a discipline over the course of the adventure and then just kept getting to do it, and tried to get better and better,” Goldblum further told The STAR and other press during the Zoom roundtable.

“Sanford Meisner said you can’t call yourself an actor until you’ve worked at it for 20 years. And then if you’re lucky, you keep getting chances and your whole life long can be a classroom and you can keep getting better. I kind of took that to heart so I feel like I still have an appetite for it and a humility about it and a desire to get better. And maybe that’s why, you know, I’m okay so far.”

In Jurassic World Dominion, he had the “heavenly gift” of being reunited with Jurassic Park co-stars Laura Dern and Sam Neill.

“It was monumental because 30 years ago, I just had the best experience with them. I’d never met them before. But we showed up on Kauai, an island in Hawaii, and shot the first two weeks and (director) Steven Spielberg was wonderful. And then we went through such a bonding time together. There was a hurricane that we went through in that first movie,” he recalled.

“We became very close and I adore them. They changed my life really. Then, the fact that the movie kind of rang the bell for a lot of people was something and a surprise in some ways, although we knew Steven Spielberg had done that before, but this movie, you never know. So, that was special.”

Since they haven’t been on screen together since then, it became such a treat to “get together, talk about everything we’ve been through and catch up on our careers and lives,” said Goldblum, who mentioned that he’s now a father of two —  ages seven and five — with his wife, former Olympian Emilie Livingston. “We’ve all had children since then and many things have happened in the world. The two of them (Dern and Neill) are great people and great activists, very involved and passionate… and then really buckling down and focusing on this project.”

He was also happy about being “matched up and combined” with the Jurassic World cast, led by Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, in Dominion. Having to film at the height of the pandemic brought them all closer together. He said, “We were all in this one. We took over this one hotel near Pinewood Studios (in England), where they shot many of the James Bond movies. It was very special.”

Of course, this was not a Goldbum interview without asking him about his “shirtless moment” in Jurassic Park, which has become a meme machine and immortalized in things like merch.

It also got recreated (sort of!) in Dominion. Goldblum laughingly said, “I don’t think I was thinking about it the first time and I don’t think I was thinking about it this time. But Colin, did he write it into it? There’s something if you haven’t seen it yet. I don’t want to spoil it for anybody who hasn’t seen it. There’s a moment where I share the screen with DeWanda Wise… where we’re in the middle of dinosaur danger, and I think I start to get a little warm and relaxed. Well, something happens. You’ll see it’s very subtle, but I think it’s kind of fun.”


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