Entertainment

Jeff Goldblum’s Little Big Role in ‘Jurassic World’

Posted June 14, 2018 4:17 p.m. EDT

To paraphrase Stanislavsky, there are small parts made smaller by small actors. Then there are small parts with Jeff Goldblum in them.

Blink twice during “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” which opens Friday, and you might miss him as the chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm. Still groovy, if a tad grizzled 25 years after first appearing as the franchise’s dark knight, he’s now testifying before Congress about the fate of the cloned dinosaurs stranded on a volcanic Isla Nublar.

The scenes, which bookend the action headlined by Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard as former employees of the island’s decimated theme park, were shot in a single day. But perhaps in deference to the fans who have tattooed images of Malcolm on body parts (including their buttocks), Goldblum, a star of “The Fly” and “Independence Day,” took the role reprisal as seriously as if it were his first blockbuster. “I’m conscientious, so I saw the original movies to refresh myself, and then I put my best effort into it,” he said. “I was in a sort of creative sweat by the time I got out.”

Now 65, Goldblum lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Emilie Livingston, and their two sons. In a phone interview from his closet, he talked about the collision of acting and art, and what has been called his Goldblumaissance. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Q: So you’re closeted today?

A: Yeah, believe it or not. It’s biggish, and I’m on a couch. It’s really nice. I’m facing a few clothing poles, and I’m looking at some of my shirts and jackets and a couple of my suitcases ready to go and my robe that they gave me from “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Q: You finally get your Hawaiian vacation.

A: They shot for a month in Oahu and then the rest of it at Pinewood Studios in London, and that’s where I joined them for my part. Then I got to work with [Colin Trevorrow, one of the movie’s screenwriters] on that Super Bowl commercial for Jeep where I played Ian Malcolm and I was being chased by a dinosaur. It turns out to be me in a Jeep showroom and I’m just fantasizing.

Q: It’s been 21 years since you appeared in the franchise. Is Malcolm still near and dear?

A: I had such a good time with Steven Spielberg and how the movies were received — people wide-eyed and full of gusto coming up to me and saying that they enjoyed them. It’s an entertaining series of movies, but my character gets to make a remark or two in areas that are interesting to me. He’s an environmentalist and thinks about the world working for everyone.

Q: What does the doctor have to say now?

A: Basically, that every animal here on our gorgeous planet has every right as we do to be free and live a happy life. And of course many of the dinosaurs are glorious species. But the ill-advisement of having brought them back flies in the face of evolution and the natural continuum. And given the current situation with the volcano, as difficult as it would be — and I wouldn’t want to kill them with our own hands — I give the painful advice of just let the universe course-correct. Now, there are well-meaning people in the movie that are very heart-wrenched about the loss of these magnificent creatures.

Q: Are you also an environmentalist?

A: There’s an organization called Oceana that I’ve done many things with who’s trying to maintain the health and integrity of our oceans. We have some amazing, beautiful, gorgeous, infinitely mysterious and lovely roommates on this planet. And yes, I have a strong feeling that we’re not our best selves when we don’t live with them peacefully.

Q: What do you seek in a role now?

A: My teacher Sanford Meisner said it takes 20 years of continual work before you can even call yourself an actor. And then, if you’re lucky, you can work for the rest of your life and still keep getting better. So I look for a variety of things that will allow me to enhance what I’m doing, and I’ve got some cultural and political and civic areas of interest that can infuse me when they’re part of a good movie. I guess that’s the key. According to my taste, it has to excite me.

Q: And you recently got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Have you arrived?

A: Well, it’s a great honor and I’m thrilled about it. I don’t know that I’d think about it in that way, this arriving business. I think of myself as a humble student trying to get better and just lucky to still be getting chances to do it. But there are 24 other people in the crop — Jennifer Lawrence is one, and Jack Black. I’m star-struck.