Certainly, Jeff Goldblum is a talented actor, but his greatest talent may be for landing in the right place at the right time. Goldblum’s presence in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters is rarely acknowledged.
Remember, he was the only actor to star in both “Jurassic Park” and its sequel, “The Lost World.” And he saved the world in “Independence Day.”
Another side of Goldblum is currently on display with the release of the quirky deep-sea adventure movie “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou.” Goldblum plays the rival of oceanographer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray), a Jacques Cousteau-style explorer whose wife, played by Anjelica Huston, was once Goldblum’s spouse.
From director Wes Anderson, “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou” ranks with Goldblum’s best films, which include “The Fly,” “The Tall Guy” and “The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai.”
He is divorced from Geena Davis – and he never quite made it to the altar after getting engaged to Laura Dern – but at age 52 Goldblum can take this as consolation. He is one of the luckiest men in Hollywood.
Q: Much of “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou” was filmed far out at sea, and far from any five-star hotel. So, how was everyone’s hygiene out there?
A: Delightful. Fine. Never an issue. Out to sea, that can get gamy. But everyone was rigorous with their personal cleanliness. We had one scene that was filmed at Cinecitta, the Italian studio used by Fellini. We were all locked in a little bubble. We were in close quarters and it was peachy. What a group to be hanging out with on this delightful, delicious thing! I love this movie.
Q: A lot of people did get seasick out there on the set. How were your sea legs?
A: I actually didn’t have to be out to sea much. My sea legs have never been tested before. I’ve never done my “Master and Commander.”
Q: A movie star who has never been out to sea?
A: I grew up in Pittsburgh and we had friends that had a boat that would sail out on Lake Erie. I was very young and I caught a little fish. We slept over that night and I did something I’ve never done: I wet the bed. Maybe it was because we were out on the water. I was humiliated that morning. That was my first experience on a boat. Another time I went out and there were too many bugs. I once went fishing with Ed Begley, but I’m not crazy about the whole fishing experience.
Q: So you are not too fond of the water?
A: I always loved the ocean! We went to vacation in Atlantic City. When I first saw and felt waves and smelled the salt water, I adored it. I have a wonderful time at the beach. I’m crazy about the ocean, deep and mysterious and fantastic.
I went to Fiji once and had a snorkeling experience that was magical. This movie is correct: There’s something about the sea that is enchanting and awesome and poetic. Oh, and I did take a cruise to Alaska once and saw the blue glaciers. So that’s my water experience.
Q: You only had a few scenes with Angelica Huston, who plays your ex-wife. How was she to work with?
A: She’s a goddess, an angel, a rich garden of earthly delights.
Q: And what about writer-director Wes Anderson? How does an actor submit to his unique vision of reality?
A: I’m taken with and inspired by his movies and him. He’s a special, rare character, a genius. His movie world is highly imaginative and wild but combined with something that’s deeply human and true and not wacky at all. The relationships are truthful. There’s a lot of rich stuff. He’s a very grounded, deeply human and wise person. There’s always plenty to chew on in his parts.
Q: When you sign on to a picture with Wes Anderson, is there a sense of adventure and risk?
A: It’s a risky thing. It’s a real work of art and Wes works the way real artists work. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before and I’m thinking, “I don’t know how this is ever going to turn out, but here, my heart is in it so let’s go!” Wes Anderson’s whole sensibility is marked by constant surprise and a sense of the unexpected: visually, musically, story-wise. It all works like a charm and it has to do with his sense of the intuitively poetical.
Q: So what is your personal take on this film? What is it really about?
A: Relationships and loss. There are plenty of people in the movie that suffer a loss. Bill Murray’s character does. My character loses his whole crew. Our world gets shaken up and we lose everything. Wes doesn’t talk about this, but it seems to be about the inevitability of everything in the world of form – relationships, bodies, careers, your fancy things – all finally crumbling into nothing. But underneath, there’s something magical that connects us all.