Jeff Goldblum is a master at the art of seduction. For almost 40 years, the 6'4" actor has used his sly comic delivery and throwaway charm to steal scenes in movies ranging from Jurassic Park and Independence Day to The Big Chill and the forthcoming Le Week-End. In the past decade, Goldblum has happily returned to the stage, playing middle-aged bad boys in Speed-the Plow (London) and Seminar (Broadway and Los Angeles). Now he is working his magic as a disgraced politician/gynecologist named Bill in the off-Broadway premiere of Domesticated, Bruce Norris' Molotov cocktail of a play about marriage and monogamy at Lincoln Center Theater. Perfectly matched with Laurie Metcalf as his character’s blindsided wife, Goldblum, as usual, makes the most outrageous lines sound oddly reasonable. It helps that in real life, the twice-divorced actor has a happy life in L.A. a with gorgeous girlfriend half his age. Goldblum chatted about all that and more with Broadway.com.
What did you think of Domesticated the first time you read it?
I got a big kick out of it. I read it out loud from start to finish, and I remember thinking that it was disturbing and dark and hilarious—just spectacular fun. Now, having worked on it and discovered things that I never suspected on a first read, I still find it full of surprises, which is a pretty good trick!
Bruce Norris took on race relations in Clybourne Park, and now he’s addressing at the effect of infidelity on a family. Do you think the play is satirical?
Well, Bruce has a deep, soulful, wild sensibility. I think it’s all funny to him, but I also think he’s serious. I don’t know anyone to whom these issues are not relevant—relationships and families and love; what human beings are meant to do, what our authentic biology is, and whether it’s possible to make things work between men and women.
How did you feel about Bill, the character you’re playing?
He's full of contradictions. He’s not simply good or bad, but somebody who is genuinely struggling to find his way with relationships. He’s certainly got areas of cowardice. He introduced his ambivalence about marriage and monogamy early on [in his relationship with the woman who became his wife], although he didn’t pursue it very courageously. I think he wants to do something contributive with his life, his gynecological career, his political career. The character thinks of himself as a pure romantic.
You have a monologue in a bar in which Bill says 10 things that are really offensive. And you pull it off! You seem to enjoy playing provocative characters.
I do! That scene is different every night. People will either go, “Yeah, that’s funny! We’re on your side,” or “Uh oh, wait a second, mister.” Their reaction changes from one moment to the next, and I think that’s what Bruce wants. It’s sort of a Rorschach test, or a cubist painting, swinging from one end to the other in how you’re supposed to feel. Our audiences have been terrific. They come in ready to be have a challenging and, in this case, hilarious, provocative time.
You have great chemistry with Laurie Metcalf. Was that evident right away?
Yes, and I think she’s a genius. We’ve known each other for a long time, and we did a week’s work together on Raines, this TV series I did [in 2007]. Even then, I thought, “I wish there was a play we could do.” Working with her has been wonderful.
So, you wouldn’t compare her looks to the Parthenon, as Bill does…
No, no! [Laughs.] In real life she is as classic and gorgeous as the Parthenon but not ancient. She is youthful, vibrant and sexy.
Does it feel like you’ve been working on stage and in movies for 40 years?
Oh my golly! I don’t feel like that unless I’m reminded of it. I feel lucky that that's what happened, but you alway hope to remain current. I’ve got two movies that have yet to come out, Le Week-End, with Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan, and The Grand Budapest Hotel, a Wes Anderson movie that’s possibly his greatest achievement. And after I finish this play, I’ll be doing a movie called Mortdecai with Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Gwyneth Paltrow and Euan McGregor. I feel very grateful and privileged.
You’ve come a long way since that line in Annie Hall about forgetting your mantra.
That was a lucky line. Gee, I love that Woody Allen, don’t you?
What movie do fans ask you about most?
I’ve done so many different things, but the most widely remarked about are probably The Fly and The Big Chill, the Jurassic Park movies and Independence Day.
Do you keep up with the cast of The Big Chill?
Oh, yeah. There was a 30th anniversary screening of the movie at the Toronto Film Festival [last fall], but it was on the first day of rehearsal for this play. Glenn Close and Kevin Kline have come to the play, and I loved seeing them. Glenn had a charity event this past week and I played the piano and sang a little bit. I play in a jazz band in L.A. once a week when I’m not working.
Did you have fun playing one of Lea Michele’s dads on Glee?
I had a great time. Brian Stokes Mitchell played my husband, and we sang a Cole Porter tune [“You’re the Top”]. In fact, we went to Capitol Records and recorded a longer version of it. Everybody on that show is great.
Are you still dating your girlfriend, Emilie Livingston?
I am. We’ve been together for two years and three months, and she’s just spectacular and beautiful.
You’re living the life your Domesticated character would love to have.
[Laughs.] Maybe so. I’ve found a life, thank goodness, in the creative field and music is part of that. I think that’s what he yearns for.
I meant the beautiful young girlfriend part.
I’m happy as a clam with her. I feel lucky, lucky, lucky.
Is she an actress? What do the two of you enjoy doing together?
She loves to act, and we sing together. She was the Pan American champion for rhythmic gymnastics and then was on the Canadian Olympic team for rhythmic gymnastics in Sydney in 2000. Now she does Cirque du Soleil-type aerial things. She took me to a flying trapeze class here in New York. I like to be athletic, but it was difficult.
Do women friends your age give you any grief about dating someone so much younger? Your male friends must be envious.
When people meet Emilie, they say she’s magical and very sweet and they’re happy for me.
Do you see yourself getting married again?
Oh, gee—well, I would do anything with her. She’s a spectacular woman. Who knows? Maybe so.
See Jeff Goldblum in Domesticated at Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater.