Jeff Goldblum Goes Wild With Wes Anderson and Thelonious Monk

Jeff Goldblum has seemingly never met a subject he couldn’t wax rhapsodic about. Pick a question out of a hat and chances are he’ll have an opinion, expressed in a curlicue of language and anecdotes that charmingly meanders its way toward the point.

Which makes “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” pretty much tailor-made for its host.

Produced for National Geographic and streaming on Disney+, “The World According” follows Goldblum as he excavates little-known facts about everyday topics with wide-eyed wonder.

“I like to let loose,” he said. “I really was interested in this show, because I thought, ‘There’s a vein that I’ve mined a little bit that I think I could go further with.’ I’m my so-called self, and I’m spontaneous, and I’m playful, and I’m genuinely curious about these things, so I had a blast.”

And who wouldn’t while moonwalking with a sea lion or wooing a tiny dog like Goldblum does in Season 2, as he elaborates on fireworks, magic, monsters and dance? New episodes will stream early next year.

In January, Goldblum will debut as the tech billionaire Tunnel Quinn in the final season of HBO Max’s “Search Party.” In April, Goldblum, an accomplished jazz pianist, is slated to appear with his Mildred Snitzer Orchestra at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. And in June he’ll return as the fan-favorite Dr. Ian Malcolm in “Jurassic World: Dominion.”

Calling from the Hollywood Hills home that he shares with his wife, Emilie, and their young sons, Charlie Ocean and River Joe, Goldblum discussed why the director Wes Anderson, the jazz legend Thelonious Monk and his own backyard are essential to his life.

These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

1. Wes Anderson He gathers the most interesting bunch of actors and cream-of-the-crop crew members and artisans and costume people. Even before Covid and the bubble idea, he did that. In “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” we were in Görlitz, Germany, a dollhouse candy box of a town near the border of Poland, and we were all together exclusively in this wonderful little hotel. He’s stylish and has a taste for interesting things and people and events, and he makes parties and group endeavors that are just out of this world. He had a chef come, and we would have candlelight dinners — Ralph Fiennes and all these people — and it was just great. The conversation that you always have with him is spectacular.

2. Taika WaititiTaika is loose as a goose and fun in another way. You do the script a little bit, you use that as a blueprint, even in these big giant movies where the narrative has to keep moving, and he and you are obliged to not go too far off the track — even in those you go wild. At least, he and I do. He’s a comic force of nature with, just like Wes, a highly refined exemplary human soul.

3. “The Demon-Haunted World” by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan I’ve played some scientists in movies, and so my conscientious ways led me to actually talk to scientists and get together with a chaotician or two on the “Jurassic Park” movies. Carl Sagan, I never met him, but this book was his last book, written with Ann Druyan. It’s him advocating for the scientific way of thinking and the scientific method, and it’s both imaginative and disciplined, but it’s a way to be critical and skeptical and watch out for pseudoscience. It offers science as a candle in the dark, as he says.

4. “Death of a Salesman” Arthur Miller is so fascinating to me, and many times when I was experimenting with, and I think misapplying, what Sandy Meisner taught me — I had the idea that I couldn’t act without really breaking myself down and getting weepy and doing the deepest work that I knew how — I used it to sometimes over-prepare with. It always just grabbed me in the worst and best and most terrible way.

5. The Burns Brothers Ken Burns, I met him at an airport once, not that I know him at all, but I have come to know a little bit and may even do a little work with, believe it or not. Ric Burns, his brother, directed “New York,” a documentary series, and any time I go back to New York, I love to revisit it, because it makes you appreciate the American experiment which is exemplified by New York in ways for me that are emotional and wonderful.

6. My Backyard The house where I am, I’ve been here for 35 years. In this backyard that I’ve now gotten roots into, it’s perfect for the kids and Emilie and our current experience. And I often say to myself: “Gee, this is why I made this. This is why I put this pool in and made it kind of a jungle paradise in a modest way.” I see it through their eyes and every corner of it is explored, and when I’m away and then I come back, I have a physical sense of relief and nourishment.

7. Pinewood StudiosThat’s the place where we just shot [“Jurassic World: Dominion”], and of course it’s got a history. I love James Bond and I think they’ve shot a lot of Bond movies there. We had a challenge to do it and bubble ourselves up in the Langley hotel very near there. We took it over and were all getting tested often and having many, many protocols. Then I would spend time at Pinewood, and we made this movie with Laura Dern and Sam Neill and of course Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. I just had a great time.

8. Thelonious Monk I play piano. I’m still a humble student trying to get better. Thelonious Monk, I don’t try to copy him — not that I could. As you know when you read about him and see the documentary about him, “Straight, No Chaser,” what a unique and unconventional and deep artist he was. When you hear any recording from any note that you happen to dip into, you go, “Oh, that’s Thelonious Monk.”

9. Emilie’s Eggs I started making these rustic scrambled eggs where I drag some cheese around the skillet. But she’s taken over the egg-making, and it’s just so perfect. She gets this French butter that is particularly special, and then she has some French cheese that she grates over it, and there’s salt and pepper. It’s a little runny, but not very runny, and I get a knife and I cut it into several particular pieces and then I have it with some Greek yogurt and a sip of orange juice.

10 “Can’t Find My Way Home” by Blind Faith I think my brother was into Blind Faith and Cream, and Steve Winwood did the original version, which struck me when I was a kid when I first heard it through him — he was an older brother, who died when he was 23. It seemed very romantic at the time: [Sings] “Come down off your throne and leave your body alone.” Then Haley Reinhart gave me a CD on which she does that song, and I was listening to it with Charlie a couple of years ago now. We were both sitting in this little easy chair, and I got very emotional and I started to cry. It was one of the first times I think that I was openly and conspicuously and freely weeping. He said, “Dada, what, what, what?” I said: “This is such a sad song. But it’s beautiful. It’s a sadness that makes you feel it’s nice to be sad sometimes like this.”

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