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Jeff Goldblum: Our New Favorite Thing About <I>Law & Order: Criminal Intent</I>

If you caught the second episode of the new season of Law & Order: Criminal intent, you got to see Zach Nichols (played by new cast member Jeff Goldblum) unleash his highly unorthodox detecting skills on New York City's criminal population. Yes, even more unorthodox than Vincent D'Onofrio's Det. Goren, whom he trades off episodes with. We're not quite sure Nichols totally knows what he's doing, but Goldblum is hypnotic to watch, as always, and we were lucky enough to get in on a conference call with him and ask him some questions about the cancellation of Raines and the existence of Sasquatch. (That last one wasn't ours, we swear, but it's included here for your entertainment.)

You're known for your dry sense of humor, and we saw a bit of that in your first episode -- will you continue to get to express some of your humor while you're doing the show?

Jeff Goldblum: Yes, such as it is. Maybe I'm funny sometimes, maybe not so funny other times, but yes. Dick Wolf has been fantastic, kind, cordial and brilliant, I think. And they have a brilliant staff of writers and producers, and they have intendingly built a part that is suited for some of the things that I like to do and can do. That's what they've tried to do, and after seeing the first episode that was aired, I think there's some humor in there. Along with the solving the crime and the very passionate part of this character and serious part of the character, I think there's some humor in it; I'm enjoying some of the funny parts of it.

I'm a big fan of your last cop show, Raines -- were you disappointed when the show got cancelled? Did that influence you at all in considering this part?

Jeff Goldblum: I have a philosophical approach that allows me to be satisfied with whatever happens, believe it or not. Yes, I have my ups and downs, and I can be disappointed in one thing or another, but generally speaking, whatever happens I will mostly feel incredibly grateful. It's not strange to look at my life and go, "You're a lucky guy." So even during a period when, for instance Raines came and Raines went, I just felt incredibly grateful. If they had told me that Raines would have been a six- or seven-part miniseries, I probably would have signed up and been very happy to do it like that, too. But I'm always interested in the unexpected, and I know that things -- in life generally but especially in show business -- are inevitably fleeting to one extent. It may be short, it may be long, but there's no such thing as long. I think all of life is a fleeting proposition, so I'm sort of happy with whatever comes and goes, in fact. And I think in loss and in the goings is sometimes the greatest opportunity for expansion.

Anyway, in another way it did whet my appetite for more cop parts, it's true, and even before I did Raines I did this show called The Pillow Man, where I played a detective -- a homicide detective in fact. And I had a great time doing that. It was this Mike McDonough play, and I was in it with Billy Crudup and Zeljko Ivanek, and we had a great time for six months at the Booth Theater in New York. After that, I was still very appetized when Raines came along, and after Raines, to do this, and there was some kind of appetizing continuum for me in those things.

How would your character, the highly intuitive Det. Nichols, describe himself?

Jeff Goldblum:I'll take a crack at it. Yes, I think you're right. I am an intuitive fellow. Of course people know that both my parents were shrinks, so I was sort of raised in an atmosphere where there was that interest in the human mechanism and the human psyche and what makes people tick. And yes, I think I'm particularly creative and adventurous and improvisational and spontaneous in my inner impulses and patterns and deeply curious and appetized in the unfathomably mysterious and delicious phenomena that is the human being and who we really are. And why certainly people go off the rails and commit murder here in New York City, that interests me particularly, and oftentimes I find it's a mistake of identity and having their ego mistakenly built around their careers or their reputations or their bank accounts. That mistake gets them into trouble and they wind up doing risky and awful things in order to pursue that mistaken notion and defend it and help that survive. It's a bad, but not uncommon disease of the psyche that I find results in murder sometimes. I'm a humble student of that whole subject.

You're a skilled piano player. Were you nervous when you were being filmed during a scene where you got to play the piano in an episode?

Jeff Goldblum: I don't know how skilled I am, but I did take lessons. Our parents gave us music lessons early on in Pittsburgh, and I took to it and loved it. I kind of guess it's a hobby of mine. Before I decided on being an actor, I played the ragged cocktail lounges here and there while I was still in high school, and then have always had a piano where I am, where I live and now where I work, too. I just love to play all the time. For the last several years I've had a jazz band called the Mildred Spitzer Orchestra in Los Angeles, and when I'm off work we book ourselves into places and play gigs around town.

Then, yes, they knew about it a little bit and worked it into the character so my character, Detective Nichols, is able to play a bit in a couple episodes, one that you saw already, that first episode, and there's another one where I play. No, I'm not particularly nervous. I get excited, and I got excited about it, but I always was sort of thrilled to play. Even when I play gigs these days, I have no career aspirations and no fear of criticism. I really do it because I love to do it, so it was particularly enjoyable for me having it be part of a scene or two.

Throughout your career you've starred in movies that feature incredible and even monstrous creatures like Jurassic Park and Incident at Loch Ness. Do you have any interest in cryptozoology, the study of hidden animals?

Jeff Goldblum: Not particularly. I've never heard anything credible that would make me think that any of that stuff actually exists. Even though I love playing in those stories including the dinosaurs, no, in real life I'm not particularly interested in Big Foot or the Loch Ness monster.

Out of all the roles you've played, what's been your favorite and why?

Jeff Goldblum: Maybe it's because I'm trying to get better, and I feel like I am, but I currently am pretty in love with this part that I'm doing now. Then I like parts when they're at the stage of development, so I'm doing a couple more movies right after this, this summer, one called The Baster with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman, and I'm at the stage where I'm rehearsing it and trying to figure out who the character is and what the part is, and I kind of love that. And then I'm doing this movie with Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton and Rachel McAdams called Morning Glory right after that, and I'm a bit in love with that. I think you have to be. That's part of the criteria and qualification for taking a part. It has to be a passion and something you're in love with.

But besides that, having said all that, I did love very much Adam Resurrected that I did this last year with Paul Schrader directing that Willem Dafoe was in, and it was a wonderful movie and experience for me. I loved doing that movie Pittsburgh that I think you can still get on NetFlix, a very handcrafted affair that I sort of cooked up over several years. Besides that, holy cats, many things that I could think of, but those are a few that come to mind.

Catch Goldblum in this Sunday's episode of Criminal Intent on USA, and let us know what you think of his character below!

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