Not all actors enjoy lifetime success, and even some of the most skilled and famous performers in the world find their career only spans a few decades. With that said, some actors are lucky enough to enjoy a resurgence of popularity seemingly for no reason at all, and that’s exactly what happened to Jeff Goldblum.
After a prestigious career in the eighties and nineties, Goldblum seemed to vanish off the radar for a while, before returning to the silver screen and proving that he could still be a hallmark of entertainment today. Here are 20 things you probably didn’t know about Jeff Goldblum.
20. He became a father for the first time at 62
When you’re an actor in Hollywood, there’s a lot of pressure to work as much as you can before your time in the spotlight is up. That can make the decision to take time out to have a family a risky one, no matter your gender or age, something that Jeff Goldblum evidently understands. That at least partly explains why Goldblum waited until he was over the age of 60 to have children.
In 2015, Goldblum and wife Emilie Livingston had their first child, son Charlie Ocean Goldblum. Jeff was 62 at the time. The Goldblums’ second child, another boy whom they named River Joe, arrived in 2017, the year Jeff turned 65. Goldblum has said in interviews that he’s glad he waited but does wish he had the energy to keep up with his kids as they run around.
19. His wife is 30 years his junior
Jeff Goldblum hasn’t so much been unlucky in love; it’s more that it took until advanced middle-age that his luck would finally come through. Goldblum has been married three times and divorced twice – from 1980 to 1986, he called fellow actor Patricia Gaul his wife, while from 1987 to 1990, Thelma & Louise star Geena Davis was his betrothed.
Following these ill-fated marriages, Goldblum lived the bachelor’s life for close to a quarter-century. Then he met Emilie Livingston, a Canadian dancer and former Olympic gymnast. When she became Goldblum’s fiance in 2014, she was 31, while he was 61. Neither Goldblum nor Livingston have ever publicly commented on the age gap, but Livingston did acknowledge her reticence at asking Goldblum to start a family or marry again in a 2018 Instagram post.
18. He used to be a prison stationery salesman
Today, Jeff Goldblum is one of the most respected character actors in Hollywood, and a highly meme-able ‘personality’ who has unsurprisingly found legions of followers in the internet age. There was a time, however, where Goldblum was, like any of his fans, just another regular joe worker trying to get by. When he first moved out to California in 1974, in pursuit of fame and fortune, Goldblum took the job of pencil salesman, with very particular clients.
According to Vanity Fair, who covered the actor in a career interview in 2017, Goldblum ‘found employment selling surplus office supplies to correctional facilities.’ “After a week of that stuff, I got an illness that landed me in the hospital. That was the last time I dared to do something that wasn’t in the creative arts.”
17. He stole money from his dad to pay for nefarious purposes when he was 13
Jeff Goldblum is widely regarded as one of the nicest celebrities you should ever hope to meet, but that doesn’t mean he’s totally without a rebellious streak. Especially as a kid, Goldblum did all sorts of things he shouldn’t have, including stealing money from his dad at 13. Specifically, Goldblum lifted five dollars from Dad’s wallet – which is already scandalous, but it gets worse when you realise what he needed the money for.
Goldblum actually wanted the money so he could hire a woman of the night in his native Pittsburgh’s red light district. In the end, the awkward, newly teenage Goldblum couldn’t go through with it: “On the way to the bedroom I said, ‘What time is it?’ I looked at my watch and said, ‘I’ve got to go but I will come back.’ I got cold feet and never did go back.”
16. He recently released a bestselling jazz album
Aside from acting, Jeff Goldblum’s other passion in life is piano, specifically jazz piano. It’s a skill Goldblum has been honing since childhood, and as a young teenager, he would phone jazz bars and pretend to be an older performer, just so he would have a chance to play. More recently, Goldblum’s jazz passion has led to a recording career, under the moniker Jeff Goldblum & The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra.
Goldblum was 66 when he released his debut album, 2018’s The Capitol Studio Sessions, which went straight to the number one spot in the US jazz charts. He’s since released two more albums: 2019’s I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This and 2023’s Plays Well With Others.
15. Steven Spielberg considered cutting his character out of Jurassic Park
Dr Ian Malcolm is undoubtedly one of the best characters in Jurassic Park, and is also unquestionably the most iconic character Jeff Goldblum has ever played (we will fight anyone who says otherwise). That’s why it’s even more surprising that Goldblum almost didn’t get the role at all. Not only that, but the character almost didn’t exist.
To save screen time, director Steven Spielberg was actually considering cutting the character of Malcolm and merging some of his attributes with other characters. Jeff Goldblum’s audition, however, made it obvious to Spielberg that the character had to stay, and that Goldblum had to portray him. Goldblum has since played Malcolm three more times, in 1997’s The Lost World, 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and 2022’s Jurassic World Dominion.
14. He kept a fly as a pet as research for The Fly
The Fly might be the weirdest project Goldblum has ever worked on, but the surprise hit film was also one of the first projects to give him a leading role. Goldblum took the job very seriously, especially when it came to researching the animal his character was so obsessed with. Instead of conducting endless science experiments, like his character Seth Brundle, Goldblum kept a single living fly with him on the set of The Fly.
Rumours that Goldblum carried the fly in his pocket are untrue, according to Goldblum himself in a 2016 Guardian interview: “I put it in a plastic bag and stuck it to a wall in the trailer. I’ve always been highly conscientious.” Goldblum kept the insect in the bag so he could study its movements and ensure his own, as ‘Brundlefly’, were accurate.
13. He discovered his, uh, DISTINCTIVE acting style by… accident
Jeff Goldblum, like fellow walking memes Christopher Walken and Nicolas Cage, has a… let’s say unique acting style. By now, Goldblum’s nervy, halting delivery and constantly gesticulating body language has become his acting signature. This wasn’t always Goldblum’s style, however – and he only discovered the actor he was meant to be by accident.
While filming for 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a breakout gig for Goldblum, the young actor tried out an unusual line delivery in one take that director Philip Kaufman had nothing but praise for. Goldblum continued acting that way, and has done ever since, explaining in his own inimitable way in 2018: “That’s kind of… I sort of… I think I found something”.
12. He now has his own Disney series called The World According to Jeff Goldblum
Have you ever wanted to see the world through the eyes of Jeff Goldblum? Of course you have. Fortunately, your wish has been granted by The World According to Jeff Goldblum, a National Geographic series produced specifically for streaming service Disney+. The idiosyncratic show follows Goldblum as he travels the world, exploring subjects of which he has little to no prior knowledge.
Says Goldblum about his approach in the show: “I’m not here to be didactic or professorial in any way… I know nothing – that’s the premise.” At the time of writing two seasons have been released, and while no third season has yet been announced, Goldblum has expressed interest in making more.
11. He convinced the director to let his real-life partner play his girlfriend in The Fly
There are two main rules when it comes to picking your co-stars in Hollywood: never work with children, and never work with animals. Another occasional third rule is never work with your real-life partner, but Goldblum disregarded this when he asked that his then-girlfriend Geena Davis by allowed to audition alongside him for The Fly.
Director David Cronenberg was so impressed that she was hired on the spot. This was actually the second of three times Goldblum and Davis worked together, following 1985’s Transylvania 6-5000 and preceding 1988’s Earth Girls Are Easy (both of which were largely derided flops). The couple wed in 1987 but were divorced by 1991.
10. He tamed and formed a bond with a baboon on the set of The Fly
We’ve already discussed how working with animals is one of the big no-no’s for any movie, but Goldblum actually found it surprisingly easy. Filming The Fly required Goldblum to share scenes with a real live baboon, whom the famously eccentric actor obviously immediately connected with and loved. The Fly’s baboon was not universally loved; named Typhoon, the primate was “very volatile” according to director Cronenberg.
Goldblum, however, had an altogether different relationship with Typhoon: “Jeff, because he was much bigger and stronger than the baboon, was able to dominate him, and the baboon’s wrangler said it was a good thing that the baboon formed that relationship”. Goldblum’s bond with the animal was so strong that when Typhoon got spooked by the set lights and broke free from his trainer one day, it was Goldblum who ended up cuddling him and talking to him to calm him down.
9. His therapist officiated his wedding
Jeff Goldblum would probably characterise his relationship with his therapist, Lawanda Katzman, as a close one. Goldblum and his shrink are so close, in fact, that Katzman actually officiated his wedding in 2014. During a 2016 appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Goldblum revealed that he had been going through talking therapy with Katzman “over many decades”.
After Goldblum had gone through so much with Katzman over the years, he finally decided she was the one to set his third marriage in motion. After Goldblum popped the question, Katzman got ordained especially for the ceremony. She sadly passed away in 2018.
8. He improvised his Thor: Ragnarok performance
It’s probably already obvious from the final film, but a great deal of Thor: Ragnarok was ad-libbed. According to Taika Waititi’s distinct style, cast and crew were given free reign to get creative. Jeff Goldblum took full advantage, of course. Talking to Entertainment Weekly in 2017, Goldblum explained that Waititi was “very interested in improvisation. We came to all those scenes and riffed enjoyably for the time we had.
“I don’t know what’s gonna come out in the mix because we gave him a whole bunch of different choices.” The actor approved of Waititi’s approach, telling Entertainment Weekly that the director “gets 10 Goldblums out of a possible 10 Goldblums.”
7. A 25ft statue of him randomly appeared in London one day in 2018
For film fans of a certain generation, Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park is the best blockbuster ever made, and Jeff Goldblum is one of the most entertaining things about it. Naturally, then, the people were going to celebrate when the film reached its 25th anniversary in 2018. Perhaps nobody expected, however, that the ‘celebration’ would involve erecting a giant, half-naked Jeff Goldblum-as-Ian Malcolm next to London’s Tower Bridge.
The statue, which depicted a famous shot from the film of a glowering Goldblum with his shirt open, simply appeared in the British capital one July morning. The ‘artwork’, which was commissioned by Now TV, attracted nicknames including Jurassic Jeff and Tyrannasaurus Pecs. The statue stood from July 18 to July 26, 2018.
6. He performs his own lyrical version of the Jurassic Park theme
Anyone who’s heard Goldblum’s number one, bestselling jazz album should know by now that the Jurassic Park actor has a musical gift. Jazz isn’t the only thing Goldblum likes to play, however. As evidenced by numerous chat show appearances in which he’s performed it, Goldblum likes to sing his own lyrical version of the Jurassic Park theme.
Openly inspired by lyrics he once read online, Goldblum has performed his Jurassic Park remix in a series of interviews. In case you were interested, the words that accompany John Williams’ iconic theme go like this: “In Jurassic Park, scary in the dark, I’m so scared that I’ll be eaten.” For good measure, Goldblum even performs this rendition on his jazz album, on the track Me and My Shadow, with Sarah Silverman.
5. He once read an entire book to a stranger like a human audiobook
Jeff Goldblum is an eccentric. Everything about him just screams it, from his fashion choices down to his ability to go off on psychedelic tangents during interviews. Perhaps the most eccentric thing Goldblum has ever done, however, is become a real-life human audiobook for a complete stranger. In 2017, actor Edward Norton told GQ, “A friend of mine was on a flight and was seated next to Jeff. She was reading a book and became aware that Jeff seemed to be looking at what she was reading.”
“She said hello, and he asked her if she was enjoying the book. “Jeff said, “I don’t know if this would interest you – and if not, of course no problem – but I’m very good at reading books aloud, and if you’d like I’d be happy to read it to you.” She said, “Sure.” She had about 90 pages left, and Jeff read her the rest of it out loud.”
4. A 2009 hoax convinced people that he’d actually died
Jeff Goldblum is passionate about the truth in the era of fake news, having recently said that “we should be very vigilant about rejecting it”. He has reason to be so angsty about the topic, having once fallen victim to an internet hoax. On June 26, 2009, a day after Michael Jackson had died, word broke that Jeff Goldblum had died after falling off a cliff in New Zealand. Before anyone even bothered to check whether the story was true, the story went viral.
Goldblum spoke to E! about the incident in 2018: “people thought that I’d died. And those were the days when I had a telephone landline and my answering machine and before I could call everybody, I got a couple of messages that I wasn’t able to pick up, from like, my mother. It was, ‘Jeffrey, are you there? Are you there?'”
3. His co-stars consider him to be irresistible
Some actors are considered attractive leading men from the second they appear on screen, but some others gain a cult following for their looks over time. Goldblum, who has aged like a fine wine, is definitely in the second category, with multiple generations of people calling him their guilty pleasure crush. With that said, it’s not just audiences who have picked up on Goldblum’s unique vibe; his co-stars have a crush, too.
Vivica A. Fox, Goldblum’s Independence Day co-star, said that Goldblum “has a way of melting the panties off of people”, while Glenn Close has called Goldblum “charm personified.” Meanwhile, even Goldblum’s 2015 Red Nose Day collaborator Nick Offerman admitted that Goldblum has a “natural timbre that vibrates the pelvic bone of whomever he’s making eye contact with.”
2. He once played keyboard with Aerosmith
Well known actors also being rockstars is actually pretty common – everyone from Jared Leto to Johnny Depp also has a side hustle in the form of a rock band. It’s also true the other way round, with rock stars like Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson also starring in movies and TV shows. Jeff Goldblum might not be the most rock and roll actor you could think of, but he too has gotten to show off his rock skills on occasion.
In 1994, while filming the movie Nine Months, Goldblum was backstage at an Aerosmith concert with co-star Tom Arnold when he was invited to perform on-stage with the band. Having just introduced Goldblum to the band, before Arnold knew it, Goldblum was out before the crowd playing the keyboard with Aerosmith.
1. His family had no idea he wanted to be an actor
It’s hard to imagine Jeff Goldblum doing anything but acting, but there was a time when he couldn’t admit to anyone that acting was his dream. Goldblum was so secretive about it that he wouldn’t even tell his teachers or parents, even though he was thinking about it constantly. Instead, the only way Goldblum would allow himself to share his dream would be to write messages on the wall of his shower, until the steam and the water washed the message away.
In a 2010 interview with the Evening Standard, Goldblum revealed: “I hadn’t told anyone, even my parents or friends, that I wanted to act, it was embarrassing or something, and I knew it was too important to me to have it be anything but a secret. But the door would steam up, I didn’t dare keep a diary or anything, and I’d write ‘Please God, let me be an actor’, and then, before I left the shower, I would wipe it off.”