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There’s a change of pace for Jeff Goldblum in his latest role as a drug-dealing lawyer in Deep Cover. He talks to Alan Morrison about guns in LA and hurricanes in Hawaii. And beer.
A mischievous grin breaks slowly over the unmistakable features of Jeff Goldblum. He’s just been asked if he had actually tasted the brew in question before agreeing to do those Holsten Pils adverts.
‘Well,’ he begins slyly, ‘they called and said “Hey, you want to do these?” and they seemed very clever. . . Once I got on the set, I said, “So, this is the stuff”.’ Pretend sip. ‘Mmm.’ Bigger pretend sip. ‘Mmmmmmmm. lt’s strong, isn’t it?’
Given that the ads were omnipresent over the festive period, it’s not surprising that British audiences may have a sharper sense of Goldblum as a slightly wacky screen presence than either he or his compatriots have on the other side of the Atlantic. ‘1 think they wrote them for whatever they thought my personality was like,’ he agrees. ‘This is me, I’m being myself now. Do I seem like the guy in the commercials? What does the guy in the commercials seem like? Quirky? Do I seem quirky?’
‘Do I seem like the guy in the commercials? What does the guy in the commercials seem like? Quirky? Dol
Less so than the popular image would have us believe but, yes Jeff, you are slightly quirky. And tall. Very tall. At 6’4‘, he fills the room. Even sitting down, he commandeers the space around him, arms ﬂailing to emphasise a point, long legs stretched under the table when he leans back in his chair. In fact, Goldblum in the ﬂesh is everything you hoped he would be: his coffee-coloured good looks and easy personality win you over on the spot. This strong likeability factor could prove disconcerting for those watching his latest movie, the powerful undercover cop thriller Deep Cover, in which he appears as an ambitious lawyer trying to manipulate his way into the drug world.
‘I wanted the character to be sympathetic,’ he explains. ‘Use a little humour here and there, warmth and accessibility, and even make his secret attraction to this dark world — his hunger and lust for power - something heroic. Something that had to do with him breaking through the bonds of servility and limited social behaviour.’
The fact that he can pull off a role as complex as
this - along with his secret talents as a singer, pianist, drama teacher and, believe it or not, a tap dancer- proves that there is more to Goldblum than an off-centre comic streak. But for all his laid-back amiability, he seems to be someone who has difficulty getting to grips with wedded bliss. His second marriage, to Geena Davis — his first was to actress Patricia Gaul — ﬂoundered after a few years. Although as he recently put it: ‘We’re both tall. We’re both funny. It should have worked.’
But the ups and downs of domestic life don’t seem to be holding him back as this summer Goldblum is set for mega-stardom with the leading role in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, the tale of a dinosaur theme park that goes out of control. According to the actor, who has seen some footage, the special effects are ‘quite a spectacle’, but equally spectacular were the real scenes of devastation that occurred when Hurricane lniki decided to gatecrash the set.
‘We were in Hawaii for a couple of weeks, the first two weeks of shooting, and the eye of the storm passed us by on the last day. l was a little scared, but the whole company bonded together in a hotel ballroom and we pitched in in a very communal way. There was a crack in the door through which we could see what was going on , with the waves and the storm and the trees ﬂying out. Oh boy! It was amazing.’
Almost as life-threatening was the rigorous preparatory work he and co-star Larry Fishburne (playing the undercover cop who finds that drug-dealing has its own rewards) went through before they began filming Deep Cover. By all accounts, downtown Los Angeles was a pretty nasty place to be even before the riots, as the actors discovered on late-night car trips with sergeant Karl Armelin of the LAPD.
‘We had to wear bullet-proof vests, and I knew we weren’t wearing them for nothing. He took us
at peak hours, on a Saturday night at midnight in bad sections of Los Angeles, and we were in places and situations that I wouldn’t have wanted to be in if I wasn’t right behind a cop. We saw gang members. We saw a guy get shot to death at a gas station. Frightening stuff. But it gave me a feel for this world that my character inhabits or is certainly attracted to.’
‘There was one guy,’ he continues, ‘totally drugged out who’d done some purse-snatching or assault or something. He was on the ground, handcuffed, and Karl was talking to him. Then he looked up, and looked puzzled and said “Heeeyyyyy, aren’t you that actor guy?” It was a weird experience for us but, wow, it must have been something else for him.’
Deep Cover opens in Scotland on Friday 22 January. The Mad Monkey comes out on video in early February.
THE FILMS 0F JEFF GOLDBLUM
Balltomia Split (1974)
Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1978) Annie Hall (1977)
Invasion ol the Body Snatchers (1978) The Right Stull (1983)
The Big Chill (1983)
The Fly (1988)
Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)
The Tall Guy (1989)
Mr Frost (1990)
The Mad Monkey (1990)
The Favour, The Watch and the Very Big Fish (1991) The Player (1992)
Deep Cover (1992)
Fathers and Sons (1992)
Jurassic Park (1993)
0N FOLLOWING PAGES: MAN BITES DOG O CHAPLIN O BLADERUNNER
18The List 15— 28January 1993