An irreverent yet deeply researched biography about the always offbeat, suddenly meme-able, and wildly popular actor
When did you first encounter Jeff Goldblum? Maybe as a deranged killer in his 1974 screen debut in Death Wish? Maybe as a cynical journalist in 1983s The Big Chill? Or a brilliant if egotistical scientist-turned-fly in 1986s The Fly? Perhaps as the wise-cracking skeptical mathematician in 1993s Jurassic Park? Or maybe you’re not a film buff but noticed his face as part of one of the Internet’s earliest memes. Who knows?
Whenever it was, you’ve probably noticed that Goldblum has become one of Hollywood’s most enduring actors, someone who only seems to grow more famous, more heralded, more beloved through the decades, even though he’s always followed his own, strange muse. The guy primarily plays jazz music these days, but is more famous than ever. Actor, pianist, husband, father, style icon, meme. Goldblum contains multitudes, but why? What does he mean?
The Washington Post’s Travis M. Andrews decided to find out. And so he set out on a journey through Goldblum's career, talking to directors like Lawrence Kasdan and Philip Kaufman, colleagues like Harry Shearer and Billy Crudup, and pop culture experts like Chuck Klosterman and Sean Fennessey, to get to the bottom of this whole Goldblum thing. And then he took what he learned and he wrote this book, which is titled Because He’s Jeff Goldblum and is the best thing written since The Brothers Karamazov and slightly easier to follow. But you should already know that. In this new semi-biography, semi-rumination, and semi-ridiculous look at the career of Goldblum, Andrews takes you behind the scenes of his iconic movies, explores the shifting nature of fame in the twenty-first century, and spends far too much time converting Goldblum’s name into various forms of speech.
Want to hear how Goldblum saved a script supervisor from an amorous baboon? Or what he would write on the mirror after taking showers when he was a teenager? How about his feelings on various brands of throat lozenges? (That one could be an entire book unto itself.) Then this is the book for you!
Washington Post writer Andrews debuts with a gushing biography and cultural consideration of Jeff Goldblum, an actor he calls "unknowable, strange, and enigmatic, but in the very best way." Andrews touches on Goldblum's youth in West Homestead, Pennsylvania in the 1950s and '60s (his father was strict and used corporal punishment; his mother was a hippie who vacuumed in the nude) and his move to New York City at 17 to pursue acting. He analyzes Goldblum's best-known roles (The Fly, Jurassic Park); remarks on the actor's passion for jazz; and delights in his sartorial choices, whether it's a floral shirt or zebra print pants. Andrew's chatty approach features campy pen and ink illustrations by Leigh Cox of Goldblum playing piano and literally larger-than-life posing with his shirt unbuttoned; brims with extravagant claims (Goldblum "appears to be aging in reverse, like some sort of Benjamin Button"); and even includes a fake interview between Andrews and his elusive subject. Andrews doesn't ever quite pinpoint why Goldblum is a perennial cult favorite, though he never misses a chance to remind the reader he's wonderful. Those similarly smitten with Goldblum will surely appreciate this lark, but readers looking for a traditional biography or consideration of the actor can safely take a pass.