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Mr. Sci-Fi

Independence Day star Jeff Goldblum still weird and wonderful


Toronto Sun

 NEW YORK -- He's Jeff Goldblum, the sci-fi guy. And there's nothing you can do to stop him.
 "I start Jurassic Park 2 in the fall," he says in his faraway voice, as he mugs with that faraway looking face. "I'll be there and I'm looking forward to it."
 Goldblum should be looking forward to it. He's made a multimillion-dollar name for himself as the science fiction actor of record these days, what with his star turns in The Fly, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Jurassic Park, Independence Day, and of course, Jurassic Park 2.
 Quite an impressive string for the meditating, piano-playing, tap-dancing, weightlifting, well-read, smooth-talking, 6-foot-4 gent.
 "And I always get some pennies from the dolls," says Goldblum, talking like an expert merchandiser, but smiling like the oddball put-on artist that he really is.
 So how did he get here, get to the top of the heap as the sci-fi guy everybody needs, wants, must have?
 Strangely enough, Goldblum grew up in an upper-middle class suburb of Pittsburgh. His father was a strict doctor, but relented when Goldblum said he wanted to study acting. He left for New York at 17.
 After a Broadway stint in Two Gentlemen Of Verona, he scored a small but impressive role in Robert Altman's California Split and later Nashville. He turned the corner with his part as the People magazine reporter in The Big Chill.
 So where does science fiction enter into all of this?
 "Oh, oh dear," says Goldblum in his trademark outlandish, offhand, stop-start way of speaking.
 "When I was a 10-year-old kid," he says, "I don't think there was anything as powerful as science fiction.
 "I mean forget about Jurassic Park, I remember the real event movie when I was a kid was King Kong Vs. Godzilla. There was a theatre outside of Pittsburgh where I grew up, a real jewel box inside, three balconies.
 "And I remember sitting in there, waiting for the movie to start, and I was breathless.
 "And when it started I remember people were screaming from start to finish. It was the greatest thing I've ever seen."
 He laughs: "Of course I was 24 at the time. No, I'm kidding."
 "But do you know what's really sad? Now I see all my favorite movies being mocked on Mystery Science Theatre -- like Attack Of The Giant Shrews and From Hell It Came."
 Which reminds him: "I loved The Blob. I remember saying to my friend Dennis Grabitsky, `Wait until you see this. It's unbelievable. This monster comes at you, and it's really scary.'"
 Okay, scary.
 "And, yes, and scarier was I Was A Teenage Frankenstein. I saw it on a double bill with I Was A Teenage Werewolf."
 Goldblum is getting excited. This is mentioned to him. "Yes, yes, excited," he says. "I'm exciting myself."
 So naturally, with all this childhood excitement etched in his mind, the sci-fi guy was just aching to get out.
 "It's a living, yes, it is," he says, smirking a little.
 Nice to be the focus of attention, too, he admits.
 "I guess so," he adds as what seems to be an afterthought, another signature of his peculiar conversation style.
 "Nice. I guess so. I get all of those business calls. I'm in this hot movie, and people call, want to go to the premiere, and I get more calls from people who care about that kind of thing."
 And all of this is because Goldblum knows how to do the authority figure, the smart guy type, without being really, really boring about it.
 "Oh baby," he says in a spoofing Hollywood hipster pose. "Isn't it great?
 "I get to figure out everything and then try to stop the bad aliens. And that's what you get when you get the smart parts."
 Goldblum doesn't even have a role model. "I don't think of anybody in particular," he says.
 "Although I've always admired the way Carl Sagan speaks. He makes science seem humorous, wondrous, romantic, spiritual, sexy and virile."
 Sounds like Goldblum's role in Independence Day, as the wise guy who not only figures out the aliens are attacking, but helps fight them.
 I mean, think of the action figure possibilities.
 "Something sexy I hope," Goldblum says without missing a beat. "I hope I'm in my army fatigues. And the shades -- always nice to have the shades."
 Fatigues and shades. Oh dear, he's the the sci-fi sex symbol guy.
 "Sex symbol?" he says. "I don't know. I have an appetite for love and romance and sex and lust. It's a part of life, and a part of acting. But sex symbol?
 "Okay, sounds good to me."
 MARRIAGE: To actress Patricia Gaul, ended in divorce. To actress Geena Davis, ended in divorce. Not to actress Laura Dern. They are still engaged. "We are luxuriating in our engagement period," he says. "You can be engaged for a long time -- I know five years -- but once you are married you are married forever." Almost.
 ALIENS: "Smart people say that the universe is so big, there must something going on somewhere. Maybe there is, and I don't know, maybe we are like the stars and live in this paradise planet, and they are jealous."
 NEXT: "I'm a gangster in Trigger Happy," he says. "I like to keep my acting options open and studio people seem cordial to that feeling, so I oblige myself."

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