Top Ten


A Look at Our Top Ten Goldblumiest Performances by Actor Jeff Goldblum

By the Members of the Goldblum Guild(blum)

Spring 2014

The Jeff Goldblum utterance–half mumble, half stammer, with that almost musical staccato delivery–is the stuff of legend. It turns seemingly simple phrases simultaneously into poetry and comedy. His unique way of speaking is, like Brundle-Fly, “something that never existed before.” We each have our own personal favorite Goldblum quote. Who doesn”t? And the greatest thing about most of Goldblum”s iconic lines is that many of them, if given a more “normal” or “standard” vocal delivery, wouldn”t be nearly as memorable. They remain with us because of that trademark Goldblum delivery. Without Goldblum, “Life finds a way” would still have been an important thematic note in Jurassic Park, but it wouldn”t have lived on as it has. “Forget the fat lady! You”re obsessed with the fat lady!” would just be generic lame blockbuster banter, but instead Goldblum makes it into a great laugh line in Independence Day. The Switch“s “She wouldn”t know good sperm if it slapped her in the face” coming from anyone else could have been too crass or too juvenile to get the chuckle it does when Goldblum delivers the line. Even his famous early movie quote, his only line of dialogue from Annie Hall, “I forgot my mantra” is itself a somewhat forgettable mantra, but not when Goldblum is the one saying it.

His ability to breathe life into a line is a remarkable gift. Yet, because of this gift, Goldblum unfortunately often gets remembered for idiosyncratic line delivery alone. The fact that he also often gives phenomenal performances sometimes gets forgotten, so we here at the Goldblum Guild(blum) have the goal of reminding people of Goldblum”s awesome acting abilities (in addition to reveling in his greatest cinematic quotations). We may be “too chickenshit to be members of the Dynamic Duo Club,” but we are not too chickenshit to be members of the Goldblum Guild(blum) and forever sing Goldblum”s praises.

Michael Shamberg, Goldblum”s producer on the film The Big Chill, once said, “When Jeff Goldblum”s in a film, you know he”s going to do something interesting.” Truer words have rarely been spoken. Even in otherwise dreadful movies that don”t really warrant a single interesting moment, Jeff Goldblum, by nature of being Goldblum, finds a way to be interesting. Some actors are chameleons and can take on whatever role comes their way, losing themselves in it, but Goldblum is the opposite kind of actor. Goldblum is always Goldblum. He shoehorns himself into the character. For a lesser man, this can prove fatal to a career, but for someone like Goldblum, it works simply due to the fact that he may legitimately be the most interesting man in the world. He makes that Dos Equis guy seem as vanilla as Mr. Rogers eating a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It”s because of Goldblum”s inherent interestingness that we were ourselves interested in compiling our TOP TEN Goldblumiest Jeff Goldblum Performances. So without further ado, let”s slow zoom into our #10 choice as though it were Goldblum”s chest in that absurd scene in Jurassic Park…

10. Freak #1 in Michael Winner”s Death Wish

“Jeff Goldblum made his film debut as the rapist/murderer Freak #1 in 1974″s Death Wish, the first of a five-part Charles Bronson magnum opus, a critical piece of 1970s vengeance cinema, and easily one of the most conservative films ever made. The film launched not only one of my favorite cult series and action stars (Bronson as Paul Kersey) of all-time, but also definitively forecasted Goldblum”s beguiling onscreen persona through one of the most atypical and miscast roles in his acting career. Textbook Goldblum paradox. Freak #1 is a greasy id in a Jughead cap, with a total of two scenes over about five minutes of screen time. More than anything, Freak #1 anticipates both the professorial stammer of Goldblum”s signature delivery (“Don”t jive mother, you know what we want…We want money, mother, now get it!”) and his brilliant ability to seamlessly oscillate between nebbish Jew sensibilities and gangly sex symbol swagger. To be sure: Freak #1 is utterly reprehensible, and Goldblum certainly doesn”t provide any empathy through his serpentine posture or his depraved nitrous-oxide-huffing countenance. Still, his giggly nihilism offers the briefest glimpse of levity in an otherwise completely unwatchable rape scene, replete with the graceless, grainy, mood-numbing anti-tableau aesthetics of cynical 1970s urban decay cinema. Goldblum himself may view his part in Death Wish as but a requisite stepping stone for a young actor, and maybe that”s exactly what it is. Nonetheless, I don”t think we”re going to hear an actor deliver the the line “I kill rich cunts!” with such bewildering gravitas in our lifetime.” – Alex Bacha, Lifetime Goldblum Enthusiast

9. Jeff Bellicec in Philip Kaufman”s Invasion of the Body Snatchers

“As a moderate leading man but essential character actor, Jeff Goldblum”s body of work is less about carrying a vehicle himself than it is about taking control of specific moments with an endless bag of mimetic tricks. From pampered dandy to urban sophisticate to something approaching the ur-hipster, Goldblum”s storied versatility is, in my mind, part and parcel with his voice: a velvety, skittering cadence that can be menacing, affectionate, and hilarious, often within a single conversation. In Philip Kaufman”s 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers–the rare remake that eclipses its predecessor–the Goldblum voice reaches a seething, paranoiac pitch that contributes mightily to the film”s pervasive mood of unrelieved tension. Goldblum (often opposite a regrettably man-permed Donald Sutherland) plays a bitter writer in whose mud baths a strange and terrifying set of circumstances begin to unravel. He wields sarcasm with a fencer”s graceful violence (my favorite line: “I”ve never expected metal ships”), but also reveals subtler notes of failure and loneliness: dig the way his eyes light up when someone tells him a woman is interested in his written work, or the so-sad-its-funny delivery of “I don”t have any friends, Dr. Kibner.” Goldblum was only 26 here but the stage was already set for his future triumphs; to wit, despite the wonderfully creepy gimmick of the pod people”s shrill scream, it is Goldblum”s voice our ears remember.” – Dustin Illingworth, Lifetime Goldblum Enthusiast

8. Mac in Julien Temple”s Earth Girls Are Easy

“A mere two years after his brilliant performance in David Cronenberg”s The Fly, Jeff Goldblum arguably turned in the finest work of his career as the debonair alien captain Mac in Julian Temple”s Earth Girls are Easy. The age-old tale of a trio of furry, horny extraterrestrials looking for love amongst the “bald” earthling beauties in Los Angeles gives us pause as we consider the depths of the film”s message of self-discovery, love, and the transformative power of nail salons, dance feuds, and interspecies love-making. The 1980s were a magical time for campy, high-concept films. Even considering Goldblum”s other great contribution to that genre with 1984″s The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Earth Girls Are Easy–simply abbreviated Earth Girls, if you”re nasty–represents a singular variation on 80s camp: the musical, science fiction, fish-out-of-water, valley girl sex romp with a heart of gold. Goldblum”s status as an atypical sex symbol is evident in his sizzling chemistry with then-wife Geena Davis, while his idiosyncratic comedic chops play well with then-rising stars Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans. Goldblum”s presence acts as the unifying ingredient within this potentially questionable cinematic stew, bringing together outrageously telegraphed performances, musical numbers, Valley culture, and pop songs as a tasty little feast for the senses. Watching the film might lead one to believe that Mac”s relative calm compared to his hyperbolically randy shipmates, as well as his emulation of classic romantic leads to woo Geena Davis”s Valerie, positions him as the most down-to-earth of the extraterrestrial trio. However, I think the true message of the film, or the most important message at the very least, is that Jeff Goldblum”s talent and attractiveness are simultaneously alien…and cosmic.” - Randall Winston, Lifetime Goldblum Enthusiast

7. Michael Gold in Lawrence Kasdan”s The Big Chill

The Big Chill is a film about caricatures, a nostalgic look back at a generation that seemed to let itself down and subsequently off the hook by the end of the film. Jeff Goldblum plays Michael Gold–a sex-obsessed, under-achieving entertainment tabloid writer. His character, of course, originally set out to be the next great writer, but as happens in life that dream has yet to become a reality. The truly interesting part about examining Goldblum’s character in The Big Chill is that to the unobservant, Goldblum only portrays caricatures of himself (Side note: Of course he does, in certain instances, play versions of himself as seen in Portlandia, and the Tim and Eric collaborations, but we will ignore those). In any case, Goldblum’s performance in The Big Chill could have been squandered by a less aware actor. It’s through his understanding of the caricature he is portraying that he is able bring it from a cliche to a cliche-for-a-purpose. Being one of his earlier roles, we can observe Goldblum’s (by now typical and expected) style of acting develop–which makes this examination of his work, all the more interesting. It becomes a caricature Orobourous of sorts. It’s through his method of acting that he is able to take a very two dimensional (on paper in any case) character and develop a caricature that represents the film and the time.” – Shea Formaneck, Lifetime Goldblum Enthusiast

6. Dr. Sidney Zweibel aka New Jersey in W. D. Richter”s The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

“Had Jeff Goldblum not found success in Hollywood, the trained jazz pianist insists he would have become a professional musician. In the 1984 sci-fi genre send-up The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Goldblum got the chance to show off his chops tickling the ivories as Dr. Sidney Zweibel, a Columbia-educated neurosurgeon who moonlights as a piano-playing gunslinger. When recruited by Buckaroo Banzai to join the superhero rock band the Hong Kong Cavaliers (think Duran Duran with a dash of the Avengers), Zweibel jumps at the chance to don the nickname New Jersey and swap his scrubs for a garish cowboy costume replete with sheep wool chaps. Does New Jersey rank among the top superhero sidekicks of all time? Probably not. But does he count as one of Goldblum’s most amazing performances? Definitely.” – Shane Boyle, Lifetime Goldblum Enthusiast

5. Deputy Kovacs in Wes Anderson”s The Grand Budapest Hotel

“We often say something isn”t good because it”s “not realistic.” We expect realism from our movies, but realism isn”t the only mode of expression that exists. Director Wes Anderson”s films are perfect examples of how a hyper-stylized fantasy world can be used to investigate real world issues. His films, of course, need a certain kind of stylized performance (to work within his stylized world). These performances need to be three-dimensional without losing their whimsy and buoyancy. This is why Wes Anderson picks his actors carefully. Goldblum describes it this way: “[Wes Anderson] makes these whimsically theatrical characters and stories but wants the actors to fill them in in a very naturalistic and truthful, honest, deep, and substantial way.” Jeff Goldblum”s idiosyncratic acting style is perfectly attuned to this task. In The Grand Budapest Hotel, his second film with Anderson, Goldblum plays Deputy Kovacs, a lawyer for the late Madame D., and the executor of her will. Unlike with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Goldblum is given a more substantial part here, and though he is not the centerpiece of the film, he certainly gives one of the film”s most memorable performances (in a film full of great actors giving great performances). How does he do it? Well, his method is best explained in a line from his appearance on The Jamie Kennedy Experiment: “By creating the aura of Goldblum.”" – Kelsey Malone, Lifetime Goldblum Enthusiast

4. Alistair Hennessey in Wes Anderson”s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

“There are few actors who could so effortlessly (and appealingly) drift between a pair of white short-short swim trunks and a bathrobe, a tuxedo, and a crisp white sailing suit with a pink scarf, and still appear so utterly, casually sensual. The way Alistair Hennessey stares straight into the audience’s loins as he lounges on the bright yellow couch of the good ship Belafonte evokes a feeling so deeply Goldblumian it would be awkward and uncomfortable if it weren’t just so goddamn sexy. Goldblum is in full-on Distinguished Older Gentleman mode, and while The Life Aquatic may be somewhat lacking in fast-talking, stutter-filled Goldblum monologue, and his screen time may be unfortunately limited, he still manages to give his audience exactly what they need. He is the smooth talking, hair-slicking, scarf-wearing nemesis to Bill Murray; his hands float about in a classic Goldblum affect, and his easy sensuality makes us yearn for more. Only Wes Anderson’s questionable decision to limit Goldblum’s would-be on-screen gloriousness makes me “so pissed I want to spit!“” – Rachael Bacha, Lifetime Goldblum Enthusiast

3. David Levinson in Roland Emmerich”s Independence Day

“When Independence Day premiered in 1996, everyone thought that it was a movie about Will Smith saving the world from an alien invasion. But let’s be honest–after we saw Smith’s character Captain Steven Hiller was going to propose to his girlfriend with a gold ring with dolphins on it (dolphins, dude???), it became clear that Smith was no savior. Enter Goldblum as computer hacker, born romantic, and all-around delightfully eccentric genius David Levinson. Now here is a man who can save the day–someone whose first line in the film is “…I’m thinking.” And he is! Only Goldblum could unite the world just long enough to save it with his stuttering, idiosyncratic intellect! And the romance! Somehow during the apocalypse, Goldblum’s Levinson also finds time to rekindle his long-disintegrated marriage. And he’s a devoted son! David Levinson’s stellar relationship with his father Julius (played by Judd Hirsch) also makes for the best yiddishe father-son tag-team in cinematic history. As Levinson, Goldblum proved he can save not just the world, but also an entire movie from otherwise certain mid-90s obscurity. Goldblum, quit being so Goldblumingly perfect!” – Ariana Lader, Lifetime Goldblum Enthusiast

2. Seth Brundle aka Brundle-Fly in David Cronenberg”s The Fly

“If you”re looking to judge the range of actor Jeff Goldblum, it doesn”t get much better than David Cronenberg”s 1986 remake of the classic movie The Fly. The movie itself is quite different from the original 1958 version. In a way, it”s as much a love story as a sci-fi thriller. Jeff Goldblum plays scientist Seth Brundle, a quirky loner who has invented a teleportation device, portrayed in true Goldblum fashion with the quick wit and charm that we”ve come to expect from his characters. The early part of the film focuses on an odd romance, as we watch Brundle win over the heart and mind of scientific journalist Veronica Quaife, played by Goldblum”s future-wife Geena Davis. Their love story gives this metamorphic horror piece added emotional depth and greater thematic weight. When, after an apparently successful teleportation of a baboon, Brundle decides to test the machine on himself, the real horror and delight of the picture and the performance emerge. There”s the horror of Brundle fusing with a housefly to become the BrundleFly, but there”s also delight in this monstrous merging because it allows Goldblum to really put his acting skills to the test. The make-up and special effects work is absolutely amazing, but a great performance can”t be made from mere make-up and special effects alone. Goldblum literally becomes the monster BrundleFly, yet the creature still maintains enough of his idiosyncratic Goldblumian humanity that the audience continues to care for him even as he concocts ever more horrifying plans to save himself. This is the performance that made Goldblum a star, and also the one that created a number of the classic Goldblumisms that we”ve continued to see in his characters throughout his subsequent filmography. It really doesn”t get much Goldblumier than this.” - Artie Moreno, Lifetime Goldblum Enthusiast

1. Dr. Ian Malcolm in Steven Spielberg”s Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park

“I think Jeff Goldblum”s rock star scientist Dr. Ian Malcolm was the first character from the silver screen that I truly wanted to be. Still to this day, I would love to be described the way John Hammond describes Malcolm: as suffering from “a deplorable excess of personality.” Yet it”s not merely my want to be Ian Malcolm that makes this character Jeff Goldblum”s best performance. Like the imperfections of the skin, of which he speaks to Laura Dern”s character Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jeff Goldblum and his character Dr. Ian Malcolm “vastly affect the outcome” of Jurassic Park. Without his performance, would the film still have been a great, wild ride in the Summer of 1993? Probably–but with it, the film soars to unimaginable heights, and becomes, for me, director Steven Spielberg”s best film. I can sense some of you are a bit taken aback by that statement. Spielberg”s best film? People point to Jaws as more terrifying, to Schindler”s List as more poetic, to Close Encounters of the Third Kind as more mesmerizing, to Saving Private Ryan as more profound, but I disagree on all counts (and mostly because of Goldblum as Malcolm). Ian Malcolm”s “function in the story is to lounge about uttering vague philosophical imprecations” (according to beloved film critic Roger Ebert), and it”s exactly these “philosophical imprecations” that allow Jurassic Park to out-profound Saving Private Ryan, to out-mesmerize Close Encounters…, to out-poeticize Schindler”s List, and to out-terrify Jaws. Unlike in Jaws, where the scary monster is a Great White Shark (which may on some level symbolize the chaos of nature, but is still merely one big scary fish, different from the other creatures of the sea), in Jurassic Park, the scary monsters are not only more numerous–a T. Rex, a handful of Velociraptors, and some other carnivorous dinosaurs–but are actually only themselves the visual embodiments of a much more terrifying monster that becomes explicit within the film: the chaos of nature itself, writ large. Malcolm”s iconic line “Life…uh…finds a way” may be on one level a nice eco-friendly mantra (a mantra Goldblum”s character didn”t forget this time “round), but from another perspective it quickly becomes a terrifyingly profound Herzogian warning. And yet, as said above, had that line been uttered by any other actor, it wouldn”t have been filled with the poetry, with the comedy, with the terror, with the gravitas, with the humanity, with the mystery, that a Jeff Goldblum utterance instills. And had Dr. Ian Malcolm himself been played by any other actor, he likewise wouldn”t have been filled with the poetry, the comedy, the terror, the gravitas, the humanity, the mystery that a Jeff Goldblum portrayal instills either. How is it possible that Goldblum is the best part of Spielberg”s best film? As always, Jeff Goldblum…uh…finds a way.” – Tyler Malone, Lifetime Goldblum Enthusiast

The members of the Goldblum Guild(blum) are a group of film fans who love all that is Jeff Goldblum. The group consists of Tyler Malone, Dustin Illingworth, Alex Bacha, Randall Winston, Shea Formaneck, Ariana Lader, Kelsey Malone, Artie Moreno, Rachael Bacha, and Shane Boyle.


Jeff Goldblum @ IMDb

The Greatest Goldblum-Related Song You”ll Ever Hear

The Greatest Goldblum-Related Restaurant You”ll Never Eat At

Written and Compiled by the Members of the Goldblum Guild(blum)

Photography Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Design by Marie Havens


Film Still from Jurassic Park, Photography Courtesy of Universal Pictures

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