Jeff Goldblum: “I’ve never considered myself a star”

My paternal grandfather came to the US from Russia. His name was Josef Povartzik. Just arrived, he changed his last name to Goldblum. He was a very poor man, he had a stall selling sweets.

My father wanted to be an actor, but ended up being a doctor. I never asked him where that penchant for acting came from, because there is no antecedent in the family. He died in 1983 at the age of 63. I remember he once said that when he was about 18 years old he ‘snooped’ in an acting class and saw something that made him say, “Wow, it’s another league!” But acting can be scary. Maybe that was the reason.

I’ve played a doctor in some movies. To tell the truth, science has always interested me. Now that I have two children, ages one and three, I am particularly focused on wondering what I want to expose them to.

Doctor Goldblum as a father was wonderful, and I think it was a good one. Doctors were very different in their time than they are now. They automatically inspired you with respect. My father was very attached to his ‘doctor identity’ and his place in the community as a doctor. When someone said to him: “Oh, Mr. Goldblum!”, For him it was like an insult and he always corrected: “I am not Mr. Goldblum, I am Dr. Goldblum …” [risas].

I remember his black doctor’s bag. I don’t know if they are still sold. I haven’t seen one like it in years, but he always carried his and was one of those who received calls from his patients at home. “Yes, okay, I’m going there …”.

I would not be the same person that I am now If I hadn’t devoted the last decades of my life to acting.

I fell in love with jazz as a kid. My mother gave me music lessons and I started playing the piano, especially jazz, although what I wanted was to be an actor. For the last couple of decades I’ve had a band and we’ve played here and there. I love him. These days I would say that I feel equally comfortable in both places, in acting and in music, although I did not expect to reach that high with The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra and our first album, The Capitol Studios Sessions.

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I practice my profession out of pure love. It has always been like this. Acting has been a kind of romantic adventure in which I am like a wild heart eager to express myself and be creative. Things have gone well for me. And despite all the years that I have been in this profession, I still have a great interest. I feel like a student learning every day. In fact right now I’m living a late bloom [risas], but I feel comfortable.

I confess that at first acting scared meespecially when he didn’t know what he was doing. Then you gradually get into this profession. You learn, although you still think that you expose yourself too much. Yes, it is true that it makes you more vulnerable and scary. Although now I’m not as panicky as before.

I had very good acting teachers, like Sanford Meisner, creator of the Meisner technique. There are other similar methods, also pioneers at the time, with which Marlon Brando or James Dean were formed. They were methods that had to do with personal discovery in order to make the performance as natural and real as possible.

I’ve never considered myself a star, nor has it been my goal. Things go up and down, also in performance… At first I was very lucky. I had the opportunity to try a wide range of genres and play many different roles, even if they were small. I have never set out to achieve what many call ‘a career’. I have a good agent and a good manager. They are the ones who have taken me through the ins and outs of the film industry. It is clear to me that I am not a businessman and I have never wanted to be.

Robert Altman made me trust myself. I worked with him on the movie Nashville (1975) and their advice and insights were of great help to me. I also keep a very special memory of The Invasion of the Ultrabodies (1978) and its director, Philip Kaufman. I felt very valued by him. Thanks to his words, I began to see myself in a way that I had never done before. It was a great help and was a personal milestone.

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Jeff Goldblum: “I’ve never considered myself a star”