Transcribing a recording of a Jeff Goldblum interview is quite challenging. You know that incredibly unique way the actor has of speaking his lines -- the so-called "Goldblumisms" for which there is even a hashtag on social media? Well, it turns out, knowing exactly where to put a comma, a period or even a semicolon while writing down his words proved taxing and exhausting.
I met Goldblum in Berlin, where his latest project, Wes Anderson's stop-motion animated masterpiece 'Isle of Dogs' premiered, kicking off the 68th edition of the Berlinale. The actor was dressed to the nines, as he typically is, in the past even having prompted a special quote from his three-time director Anderson: "I like the pastel hues of Jeff Goldblum –' That’s the title of something," which remains a personal favorite quote to describe Goldblum.
In person Goldblum is bigger than life but in a way that's not burly or self-important. He simply is the man with the constantly evolving good looks, the actor who has gotten better with age and who, at 65 years old, can still hold a table of jaded journalists spellbound. For the half hour we chatted with him, there seemed to be no one else in the room, even with Bill Murray and Liev Schreiber just feet away at other tables. That's how charismatic Goldblum is. It is a quality that definitely comes across whenever the actor is photographed, like how he was captured in the shot above.
In Anderson's latest collaboration with the actor -- the two have already worked on 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' and 'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou' before 'Isle of Dogs' -- Goldblum plays, well, you guessed it, a dog. Duke is the chatty one, the "gossip-loving" dog of the bunch, as he's been called in reviews. Yes he admitted he was careful not to give his character too much of his famous "Goldblumisms" and the result is a crisp interpretation that has you leaving the theater wanting more. Even in the spaces in between dialogues one remains sure that Goldblum is supplying the acting, that's how powerful he makes Duke for the audience.
Following are the highlights of our talk in Berlin. 'Isle of Dogs' releases on March 23rd in the US.
How does it feel to be a Wes veteran?
Jeff Goldblum: That's my luck but I wouldn't say "veteran". What is it, three? It makes me very lucky and if I never, you know, most people never get to work with him and to work with him once is enough and spectacular, twice is more than my cup runneth over -- three times is some kind of miracle!
So it's never routine?
Goldblum: Oh, he is the opposite of routine as I'm sure many people have said better than I'll be able to say. No he's the opposite of routine in every moment of his life. I think he's some kind of guru or some kind of enlightened fakir. Uh, you know, a master's master. He's conspicuously present and full of adventure, supreme life, enthusiasm, a fertile imagination, whimsy, humor, elegance, graciousness, kindness, all of that. And every time in my experience that you're around him is a kind of a magical... Just like his movies come out, as a kind of a magical adventure and delicious, unexpected, non-routine -- kind of a thrill ride. You know, whether it's all the details that he's tended to with the location of restaurant where I first met him or, you know, where we shot 'Life Aquatic' in Cinecitta, where I'd seen Fellini shoot there once, or when we shot in Gore Vidal's villa in the south of Italy, these places. And then with the cast that he assembles are you know, a dream group... But he's a people person too. He loves people and he loves putting these groups together. He reminds me of Robert Altman. I think he was a fan of Robert Altman's.
I think he thinks of the shooting experience as an art piece in itself.
Do you think he's a trendsetter?
Goldblum: Yeah, I think he's original. You know, he doesn't follow the trend of what's come before. He's a student of what's come before, then stands on the shoulders of his favorite giants. He's original, is a pioneer and forging his own way. I guess that's what's called an artist. They have their own vision and "here's what I want to do and here's what I like, here's the color that I like and here's the shape that I like and I like that actor and he makes me laugh and I think she's interesting," you know, like that. And so all of that it comes out and into something original, I think. And uh, progressive,
What does he see in you, what's the connection that the two of you have?
Goldblum: I wonder, you know, I just feel lucky. I'm always thrilled that, you know, today I walked by him, I've never worn this suit before, it's the first day I'm ever wearing it. And he went, "ah," you know, as a way to appreciate it. Found it interesting. That is always surprising and delightful to me. And he was like, "oh, what a delicious suit" or something like that. I always want to be around him, I'm excited and want to kind of open up and share something. I say things like, "did you see my tie I was wearing at the time?" So, you know, I'm just lucky. I don't know how I qualified to be in his movies though.
When you saw the final film, what surprised you the most about 'Isle of Dogs'?
Goldblum: I only saw it last night [at the film's Berlinale premiere]. It was a while ago that I read the script so I forgot some of it. So that movie is so rich in every frame and the story and the twists and turns... I got to see it again but I'd go to see it many more times. It's nice to see it on a big screen because it's gorgeous and I'd like to see it at home where I can stop it and look at it.
So I was surprised at everything. And you know, even your part, I guess I remember the description, but you're in scenes where you're not talking and your character's acting. And I got paid for that too!