In Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Jeff Goldblum reprises his role as scientist Dr. Ian Malcolm, a character he made famous in Jurassic Park and its sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
Q: What are some of your overriding memories of the first Jurassic Park movie?
A: I guess hearing for the first time that there was a part in a movie that Steven Spielberg was going to direct and then me reading the book before the meeting and then in the meeting him saying, ‘You know there’s a draft of the script now being read since we made the meeting and that draft that doesn’t include your part. Your character is absorbed into this Alan Grant character.’ I said, ‘Jeez, but maybe you ought to keep the character,’ and then lo and behold it wound up in the movie. I wound up, luckily and thankfully, in the movie! And then I shopped around for a couple of articles of clothing and pieces of jewellery and showed up and Steven Spielberg said, ‘Yes, that seems fine,’ and we started to shoot. We went to balmy Kauai and shot and got everything done in those two weeks. It was the first time that we started to work together, shot all those scenes, seeing the brachiosaurus for the first time – which was not there – and then seeing the triceratops, which was there thanks to Stan Winston’s studio and thanks to Dennis Muren’s pioneering effects. And then the storm came. Iniki was the name of it.
Q: The storm was devastating I think…
A: Oh, I think it destroyed all of the set and all of the island and four people died in it. All of us in the movie had hunkered down in this lower-level ballroom in the hotel and helped each other out and listened to this thing and peeked out as it was raging. We were saying, ‘Have you ever seen anything like that?’
Q: Was it terrifying?
A: Yes, and exhilarating, and sad and heart-breaking when we heard what happened. And it really provokes your innards; it did mine. It shakes you to the core. Then we made our way back. Kathleen Kennedy [the producer] was very heroic and ran on blocked streets where vehicles couldn’t move and got help at the airport and got people off the island. Anyway, we all got back and did the rest of it on sound stages at Universal. It was very exciting and creatively nourishing working with Steven Spielberg and that cast. It was something else. And then when it came out, it was so well enjoyed and a couple of decades later people are still coming up and being excited about it. It was a lot of fun.
Q: When fans come up to you do they still primarily want to talk about the Jurassic movies?
A: It is one of the most popular movies, Jurassic Park, and people like the Malcom character. Independence Day was well seen and people like to talk about that. And The Fly, too, they talk about that. They were popular movies. But, yes, people have tattoos of me, and they want me to say the line, ‘Life finds a way,’ to their mum or whomever. I am happy to do that. Some other people ask if I can re-enact with me the scene with Malcolm and Ellie Sattler where he puts water on her hand. I say, ‘Sure, fine and dandy,’ and I do that. Yeah, people are still excited about it.
Q: You mentioned the animatronic dinosaurs. How cool were the T-rex animatronics on the first two movies?
A: They had two twins, daddy and mummy life-size ones playing around there [on The Lost World]. On one of those movies, I forget which, they said, ‘Don’t go near the real thing because sometimes it misbehaves.’ It was there on the sound stage. You couldn’t go near it because there were a few little glitches sometimes and you didn’t want to be killed by that thing. That’s not the way you want to go!
Q: Did you enjoy dinosaur and monster movies when you were a kid?
A: Oh yeah. I used to go to the movies with my sister every couple of weeks and we saw so many great movies – the first runs of The Bridge on the River Kwai and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and some interesting movies that were probably too adult for us. And we saw a lot of Roger Corman, a lot of Asian things. I remember The Blob was one of those. I think The Giant Claw was the first movie I ever remember seeing, with this sort of bird terrorising everyone, and then I remember King Kong vs Godzilla. For some reason I and everyone else in my town just outside Pittsburgh were excited about that. This theatre, which was a jewel box of a theatre with three balconies, was full, like I have never seen it before and kids were screaming throughout the whole thing. If you see it now it is very primitive. We also saw Jason and the Argonauts and Sinbad, these Ray Harryhausen stop-motion things.
Q: The Jason and the Argonauts skeleton scenes is one of the great pieces of cinema; the stop-motion makes them very otherworldly…
A: It sure does. I’ve just done The Isle of Dogs movie which is stop motion. I am crazy about that, and Wes Anderson even used some stop motion in The Life Aquatic. Some of those fish were naive but very beautiful so I have a fondness for that. Then I saw The Killer Shrews which is a very small thing but reminded me of some of those sequences in the second Jurassic Park with the velociraptors. Killer Shrews was a very cheap thing if you see it now but I remember being scared to death. They were in these corrugated metal sheds and they thought they had blocked everything but then the shrews started to make their way under the shed kind of like in The Lost World. So I was crazy about those movies. Can you imagine if I had been young and seen the technology they had now? I remember watching The Giant Gila Monster and they had some kind of Komodo dragon that they had put next to some small models so it was an enormous thing. It was real. Nowadays, for kids it must be like with the Lumière brothers when people first saw the train coming at them and they fainted. I can’t imagine what kids must think with the Jurassic movies and all the special effects we have now.
Q: One of your iconic Jurassic moments is when Ian Malcolm distracts the T rex with the flare, which I heard was your idea…
A: I think I bragged about that and talked about it. In the script as I remember they had me doing something like the lawyer does, Gennaro, Martin Ferrero’s character, just getting totally scared and running away. And I hatched up this idea while I was preparing it and was working on it, thinking even if only in that scene I could kind of do something a little heroic. I don’t know why I had a taste for that, a conviction about that. I don’t know what it was. I pitched it and Steven said, ‘Well, maybe, maybe.’ And I think I kept at it without being too much of a pest and I tried to lobby a little for it and one day he came to me and said, ‘Well, let’s see how you might do this.’ So Alan Grant tells me to freeze and I said, ‘I am not going to freeze. I am going to try to get this dinosaur to follow me so that you can get the kids to safety.’ That’s what I did. I said, ‘Follow me with this flare!’ I am glad that Steven allowed me to do that.
Q: You’re only briefly in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, presumably to set up your character for the next film…
A: I worked on this one for just one day. I worked with Colin Trevorrow on the phone for a couple of exciting hours long-distance and we kind of tweaked things together and talked about it and I learned what they had in mind. And then I spoke to JA Bayona, the director, the week I came to London, a few days before shooting, and he had deep convictions and notions and passions and focus so it changed again. Then going to work, they had built that room as a set. I got myself into the thing and sat alone a little bit and kind of worked on the character and thought about it and I got my clothes which I thought a lot about, too.
Q: It must be great to reprise this character…
A: It really is. It was a delightful thing to me and I stayed at this lovely place. I forget the name of the hotel but it was the same hotel that had a golf course attached to it where Sean Connery played golf with Goldfinger. Goldfinger is one of my totally favourite movies and I left every day that week to work and came back and it was like, ‘This is a nice place.’ I took a picture of myself in front of the statue that Oddjob decapitates with his hat.
Q: You mentioned going to the cinema with your sister as a kid. How formative an experience were those trips? Is that what shaped your love of cinema?
A: A lot of those early movies with my sister were part of that. But also with my parents in the early to mid-’60s, they were big fans of art cinema. There were a couple of theatres in Pittsburgh that showed I Am Curious (Yellow) and Elvira Madigan and a movie called Joanna, which was the first film Donald Sutherland ever did and with whom I did a couple of movies later. Easy Rider we went to see when it first opened in ’68 and Bonny and Clyde. It was a fertile time for interesting movies and my parents being cinephiles we saw a lot. They were theatre fans too and used to go to New York and come back with Playbills and cast albums if it was a musical and we’d see local theatre in Pittsburgh and I saw some plays that came from New York. I got the bug real bad.
Q: What do you think a young Jeff Goldblum would think about you becoming so synonymous with some of the most iconic science fiction films?
A: He’d be thrilled, and shocked that the whole thing had worked out. It seemed like some kind of wild, barely possible fantasy. He’d be shocked and very excited. I redid The Fly, of course. I saw a lot of those Roger Corman films, like Diary of a Mad Man., a lot of Vincent Price movies. When I read The Fly later I was like, ‘This a smart version of that story.’ David Cronenberg is an incredible filmmaker.
JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM is now available on digital download and released on blu-ray and dvd on 5th November from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment