Family & Companions
Despite having starred in some of the biggest blockbuster films of all time, actor Jeff Goldblum had often opted to portray offbeat characters in limited release indies. After breaking in as a drug-addled thug in "Death Wish" (1974), Goldblum spent several years looking for that one breakthrough role that would propel his career to the next level. That role came when he played a seedy magazine journalist who reconnects with his college friends during a funeral in "The Big Chill" (1983). But his biggest moment arrived with a star-making leading role in "The Fly" (1986), which earned him widespread critical plaudits. Though he spent the next several years in some rather forgettable features, Goldblum reached new heights as an unorthodox scientist in the hit action film "Jurassic Park" (1993). Three years later, he starred in one of the biggest box office draws of all time, "Independence Day" (1996), which solidified his status as one of Hollywood's top stars. While he maintained a prolific output of film and television over the next two decades, Goldblum took a step back to concentrate on lower-profile independents like "Igby Goes Down" (2002) - not at all unusual for the iconoclastic performer.
Born on Oct. 22, 1952 in West Homestead, PA, Goldblum was raised by his father, Harold, a doctor, and his mother, Shirley, a radio broadcaster who later ran a kitchen equipment sales firm. Both his parents harbored show business ambitions, but never acted upon them. Growing up, Goldblum played the piano and had a penchant for mimicry. While attending music camp after the fifth grade, he discovered acting and soon began performing on stage. He joined a summer drama program at Carnegie Mellon University when he was 15, which did nothing but fuel his obsession with becoming an actor. After graduating from Taylor Allderdice High School, he left West Homestead for New York City, where he pretended to be 18 in order to study acting with famed coach Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse. In short order, Goldblum was cast by the Public Theater to appear in a New York Shakespeare Festival staging of "Two Gentlemen of Verona" (1971), which soon made its way to Broadway. He followed with an appearance in the off-Broadway production of "El Grande de Coca-Cola" (1973).
Goldblum soon made his film debut in the classic action thriller, "Death Wish," playing one of several drug-addled thugs responsible for murdering the wife and raping the daughter of a man (Charles Bronson) who goes on a vigilante rampage. He followed up with a bit part as a frustrated actor in Robert Altman's "California Split." In Altman's "Nashville" (1975), he played the more substantial role of a man who silently rides around on a three-wheel motorcycle. Goldblum contributed an indelible bit in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" (1977) as a nervous Los Angeles party guest overheard fretting on the telephone that he had forgotten his mantra. After roles in "The Sentinel" (1977) and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1978), he played the lecherous owner of a disco named the Zoo in the lightweight comedy-of-the-times, "Thank God It's Friday" (1978). Goldblum next took a detour into television with "Tenspeed and Brown Shoe" (ABC, 1980), a superior detective comedy co-starring Ben Vereen. The show presented Goldblum as a hopelessly square stockbroker-turned-P.I. who narrated each episode with hilariously maladroit hard-boiled voiceovers. The show lasted only a handful of episodes, leading Goldblum to shy away from regular series roles for the majority of his career.
Once the 1980s hit, Goldblum had turned into a busy actor who easily fluctuated between stage and screen. After smaller parts in "Rehearsal for Murder" (CBS, 1982) and "The Right Stuff" (1983), he had a breakthrough playing the somewhat sleazy People magazine journalist in Lawrence Kasdan's "The Big Chill" (1983), a role that helped launch his career alongside the likes of William Hurt, Glenn Close and Kevin Kline. In "Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter" (ABC, 1984), he aptly re-enacted the famed television comedian's antic bits, which he followed with a darkly intense turn as a treacherous frontier cardsharp in Kasdan's offbeat Western "Silverado" (1985). Goldblum made a career misstep opposite Ed Begley, Jr. in the atrocious horror comedy "Transylvania 6-5000" (1985), which he followed with a starring turn as an arrogant man bored with his life in what many considered to be director Robert Altman's worst film, "Beyond Therapy" (1986). But Goldblum bounced back in a big way with a heartbreaking and critically acclaimed portrayal of a scientist-turned-insect in David Cronenberg's gory remake of "The Fly" (1986). The intense rapport between Goldblum and co-star Geena Davis transformed the horror film into a deeply moving romance that turned into a real-life, three-year marriage after the film, with the offbeat couple becoming a tabloid fixture and fan favorite.
Now an actor with a name to go with his face, Goldblum was featured in numerous feature and television projects throughout the rest of the decade. He starred opposite Cyndi Lauper in the lackluster screwball comedy "Vibes" (1988), which he followed by playing the captain of an alien spaceship who swoops into the life of a good-natured woman (Geena Davis) from the San Fernando Valley in the fluffy comedy "Earth Girls Are Easy" (1989). In "Mr. Frost" (1989), he was an alleged serial killer who turns out to be none other than Satan himself. Goldblum made a rare foray into romantic comedy territory with "The Tall Guy" (1989), in which he played an insecure American actor struggling on the London theater scene while falling for a charming nurse named Kate (Emma Thompson). He next played a naïve art forger who partners with a more cunning scam artist (Kristin Scott Thomas) in the enjoyable made-for-cable movie, "Framed" (HBO, 1990). In his personal life, the seeming match made in heaven with wife Geena Davis ended in divorce that same year, though the two remained friends throughout the years.
Returning to the big screen, Goldblum had a showy turn as a yuppie lawyer-turned-drug dealer in Bill Duke's "Deep Cover" (1992), a cameo as himself in Altman's acclaimed Hollywood satire "The Player" (1992), and a sober change-of-pace performance as a father raising an adolescent son (Rory Cochrane) in "Fathers and Sons" (1992). He was perfectly cast as eccentric, black-clad mathematician Ian Malcolm in Steven Spielberg's wondrous adaptation of "Jurassic Park" (1993), which earned the actor the best notices of the human participants in the mammoth summer blockbuster. And like he had on "The Fly," he began an on-set romance with his "Jurassic" co-star, Laura Dern. The couple would get engaged, but break things off in December of 1996. Rather than aggressively capitalizing on his film success, Goldblum continued to take a fairly unconventional path for a celebrity of his stature. He lent his distinctive voice to narrating chores on several science-themed documentaries for PBS, which he followed with a winning performance in "Lush Life" (1994), playing a New York City jazz musician who arranges a once-in-a-lifetime session with a fellow musician dying from brain cancer (Forrest Whitaker). Meanwhile, he returned to features as a leading man in the supernatural flop "Hideaway" (1995), playing a man who dies in a car accident, only to revive two hours later with a spiritual connection to a Satanic murder (Jeremy Sisto).
Following a supporting role in the Hugh Grant comedy vehicle "Nine Months" (1995) and a winning character turn in the fantasy "Powder" (1995), Goldblum returned to blockbuster territory with "Independence Day" (1996), playing a genius computer expert who helps a hot-shot fighter pilot (Will Smith) thwart an alien invasion. By the time all the box office receipts were tallied, Goldblum could count himself as being a star in two of the biggest movies of their day - the other being "Jurassic Park." In the comedy "Mad Dog Time" (1996), he was the enforcer to a mentally deficient crime boss (Richard Dreyfuss). He continued to play a diversity of parts, including a supporting role as a journalist in "The Great White Hype" (1996), while reviving his mad scientist role in the mediocre sequel, " The Lost World: Jurassic Park." As it happened so often in his career, a major success was followed by a few years in the artistic doldrums. He went on to appear in the forgettable Eddie Murphy comedy "Holy Man" (1998), which he followed with a starring turn as a man who takes on another man's identity after his death in the cable-released thriller, "Beyond Suspicion" (2000).
Following the ensemble heist comedy "Chain of Fools" (2000) and voice duty on the silly "Cats & Dogs" (2001), Goldblum's fortunes rose again when he appeared in the dark comedy hit, "Igby Goes Down" (2002). He next played the godfather of an angry, rebellious youth (Kieran Culkin) who runs away from his dysfunctional family and his self-absorbed, pill-popping mother (Susan Sarandon). His next triumph was as the dashing oceanographer Alistair Hennessey, the friendly arch-rival of the title character (Bill Murray) in director Wes Anderson's quirky "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" (2004), in which Goldblum delivered one of the film's most delightfully droll performances. He also enjoyed memorable comic stints on hit sitcoms of the day, playing an acting coach on an episode of "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004) and Karen's bitter high school rival-turned-billionaire corporate raider for a three-show arc on "Will & Grace" (NBC, 1998-2006). The latter earned him his first-ever Emmy Award nomination. Meanwhile, he had a long run as the commercial voice for Apple Computer's iMac line and also enjoyed a diversionary side career playing jazz piano - complete with his trademark witty asides - in lounges across the Los Angeles area.
Returning to the stage, Goldblum played Tupolski, the good, but coldly calculating detective who interrogates a disturbed writer (Billy Crudup) arrested for murdering his parents in the Broadway production of "The Pillowman" (2005). He next appeared as a leering neighbor in "Mini's First Time" (2006), a dark comedy about an opportunistic teenager (Nikki Reed) whose obsession with having "firsts" leads her into the seedier side of Los Angeles' nightlife. Goldblum co-starred in Barry Levinson's return to political satire, "Man of the Year" (2006), playing a corporate thug at a voting machine company where a glitch was discovered by an employee (Laura Linney) that helps elect a popular talk show host (Robin Williams) to the presidency during his mock campaign. Decades after "Tenspeed and Brown Shoe," he tried his hand again at a regular series gig with "Raines" (NBC, 2007), in which he played a gifted, unorthodox detective who solves cases by imaging conversations with the dead. But like his previous attempt almost 30 years prior, it was also short-lived.
Goldblum next starred in "Pittsburgh" (2007), a quasi-mockumentary about staging "The Music Man" in the steel-making Pennsylvania city. Continuing his penchant for offbeat material, he played a Holocaust survivor struggling to recover from mental illness in "Adam Resurrected" (2008). Following another successful return to the stage opposite Kevin Spacey in the revival of David Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow" (2008), he made a third stab at series television. But this time, he joined an already existing and highly successful show, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC, 2001-07; USA, 2007-11), replacing Chris Noth's detective character.
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Made his stage debut in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of "Two Gentlemen of Verona"
Appeared off-Broadway in "El Grande de Coca-Cola"
Made film debut in "Death Wish"
Landed a minor role in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall"
Appeared with Ben Vereen in ABC's "Tenspeed and Brown Shoe"
Joined an ensemble cast in Lawrence Kasdan's "The Big Chill"
Made his first film with Geena Davis, "Transylvania 6-5000"
Earned his first lead role in a feature, John Landis' "Into the Night"
Had breakthrough role in David Cronenberg's "The Fly"; also co-starred Geena Davis
Cast in Robert Altman's "Beyond Therapy"
Again co-starred with Davis in the comedy "Earth Girls Are Easy"
Played Dr. Ian Malcolm, a mathematician and chaos theorist with a rock star's attitude, in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster hit "Jurassic Park"
Played Hugh Grant's perpetually single artist friend in the comedy "Nine Months"
Co-starred with Will Smith in Roland Emmerich's "Independece Day"
Reprised the role of Dr. Malcolm in "The Lost World"
Lent his voice to the animated feature "The Prince of Egypt"
Appeared with Selma Hayek and Steve Zahn in the comedy "Chain of Fools"
Cast as the title character's extremely wealthy, morally corrupted godfather in the indie feature "Igby Goes Down"
Cast as Karen's old nemesis and Grace's new love interest on NBC's "Will & Grace"; garnered an Emmy nomination
Had a supporting role in Wes Anderson's "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou"
Cast opposite Robin Williams in Barry Levinson's political comedy "Man of the Year"
Played the title character on the short-lived series "Raines" (NBC)
Returned to the stage opposite Kevin Spacey in the London Old Vic revival of David Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow"
Joined the cast of USA Network's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," replacing Chris Noth
Appeared in the romantic comedy "The Switch" opposite Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman
Cast as one of Rachel Berry's (Lea Michele) dads on Fox's "Glee"
Appeared in the comedy feature "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie"
Had a recurring role on Portland, OR-based sitcom "Portlandia"
Re-teamed with Wes Anderson for "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Reprised "Independence Day" role in the off-the-mark sequel "Independence Day: Resurgence"
Had an uncredited role in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2"
Reprised "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" role in "Thor: Ragnarok"
Appeared in futuristic thriller "Hotel Artemis"
Co-starred with Tye Sheridan in the drama "The Mountain"
Returned to the "Jurassic Park" universe with "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"