Not only is the freshly released Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom a direct sequel to the 2015 subtitle-less Jurassic World, it also includes a major tie to the original entry in the franchise, 1993’s Jurassic Park: Dr. Ian Malcolm, as played by Jeff Goldblum.
While it’s not a lengthy role — what you’ve seen in trailers is just about it — Goldblum bookends the film with some significant dialogue reflecting on the latest science-gone-wrong dilemma depicted in the J.A. Bayona-directed Fallen Kingdom (and it’s a big one). Last seen in 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park, fan-favorite character Ian Malcolm is back after more than 20 years, though thanks to indelible quotes such as “life finds a way” and “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.,” he’s never really been away.
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CBR spoke one-on-one with Goldblum to talk returning to Ian Malcolm, the character’s enduring qualities, what the Jurassic franchise has meant to him, a possible return for the next Jurassic World film and also his take on what could be in the future for Marvel Studios’ Grandmaster, first seen in last fall’s Thor: Ragnarok.
CBR: Jeff, it’s not a secret that you’re not in Fallen Kingdom a whole lot, but it’s a memorable part, bookending the film. What made you decide to return to the role of Ian Malcolm after so many years?
Jeff Goldblum: I’ve always loved that character, from the first time I read the Michael Crichton book. Michael was brilliant, and the character is an interesting kind of person with some smart thinking and deep feeling about a couple of things. Of course, I had a great time making those first couple with Steven Spielberg and those casts. I just had a good association.
J.A. Bayona, I was a fan of. I had seen his movies and wanted to work with him in any way. And Colin Trevorrow, who wrote and directed the last one and was writing this one, I know is brilliant. I was thrilled to do it, and when i saw what they had, and saw what I had to say, I thought it was real interesting, and I was thrilled to be part of it.
Did the size of the role make you hesitant at all, or did it make it easier to say yes given your schedule?
I was busy, that’s true, but I would have considered, eagerly, all sorts of things. But I was thrilled with this, because I thought the character and what I had to do was kind of delicious. I’ve never thought the amount of screen time was as importance as the richness of the inner thinking and feeling of the character, and what he got a chance to do.
In this, once I started to work on it, I worked on it every day, and then started to get some little ideas about how to tweak the script, or curiosity about exactly what we were trying to thematically highlight in what I was saying. I had a couple of ideas, and changes, and talked to Colin Trevorrow over the phone — he was in London, and I was in Los Angeles — and had a wonderful conversation, for a couple hours, it was very creative. He included a couple of my ideas, and we collaborated. And then I got to London a few days before I started to shoot, and did something similar with J.A. Bayona, who was very available and passionate and focused about it. He had ideas that were in alignment with what I talked to about with Colin, and we worked on it and changed a couple of other things. It was a very creatively nutritious experience.
This character, as you’ve mentioned, is a special one. You’ve played many memorable characters, but Ian Malcolm has endured. Fans still quote his lines, there are Funko dolls, memes…
What do you think it is about this character in particular that has had a meaningful impact on people for so many years?
I think it’s the combination of Michael Crichton’s original creation, and then Steven Spielberg’s depiction in both those movies. [Spielberg] knows how to present a character and tell a story like nobody’s business, of course, and I think that was it.
I know what you mean. People come up to me at the jazz gig at Rockwell [bar/restaurant in Los Angeles] every Wednesday, some of them have tattoos, they want a video of me taking a glass of water and putting drops on the back of their hand and explaining chaos theory. Which I happily do! I’m delighted to have been a part of this, and thrilled to be contributing something at this point.