Jeff Goldblum Talks 'The Grand Budapest Hotel,' Then Dodges A Falling Table With Cat-Like Reflexes

We Knocked A Table Over Onto Jeff Goldblum (He Survived)

There are quite a few things that can make an interview memorable. Sometimes these are subtle moments: Perhaps it's a wry smile during an answer that completely changes the subtext of the conversation. Other times, it's a gesture -- perhaps out of kindness, perhaps out of spite -- that reveals more about the interview subject than any verbal answer could ever provide. Or, you could just accidentally dump a table onto the lap of Jeff Goldblum, watching him dodge a cup of hot coffee and a bottle of water with the reflexes of a cheetah. So, yeah, that's pretty memorable, too.

Goldblum is in this weekend's new Wes Anderson film, "The Grand Budapest Hotel." Goldblum plays Deputy Kovacs, a man responsible for dividing up the vast fortune that was left behind after the death of an eccentric widow who frequented the aforementioned Grand Budapest Hotel.

It's almost impossible to present here a "preview," if you will, of what to expect below with an interview with a man as purposefully discombobulated as Jeff Goldblum. (Well, except for that whole table incident.) In person, Goldblum -- who is without a doubt a sharp-looking man -- will drift in and out of topics, giving the whole proceeding the feeling of whimsical frenzy. Anyway, the good news is that even though my clumsiness could have killed Jeff Goldblum, Jeff Goldblum escaped this interview unscathed.

Jeff Goldblum: What's your last name?

Mike Ryan -- movie star name. You could play a sheriff in a movie. The action hero, Mike Ryan -- all fighting, all loving, once again.

I believe that's you in "Silverado."
Oh, yes, really? All fighting, all loving? Yeah, that's me. That's me. Jeff Goldblum is sheriff Mike Ryan. Yeah, that would be good.

I like this interview so far.

Let's talk about "The Grand Budapest Hotel."
I bet a guy like you liked this movie.

I did.
It's great, isn't it?

You're a whimsical guy, I'm surprised you're not in more Wes Anderson movies. Why haven't you done more since "Life Aquatic"?
Maybe nothing was right for me. I don't know why. Who knows why? Or, if I never do another one, I'll be satisfied with what I've done. But, I would work with him any time and every time -- as I think every actor would. And, a final product! That's what you want to do: to do something that contributes to a movie that works.

So when you see it for the first time, you're thinking hot damn, we have something here?
Yeah, who knows what will happen to it, but, yeah, he's trying to make something beautiful and it's all subjective. I dig what he's doing.

I can guess what will happen: It will be a modest success at the box office, then it will be a beloved film forever. Wes Anderson movies seem to have that pattern.
Well, who knows? Who knows? This may be special in any way.

There is more action in it than what we're used to seeing.
There is more action. I love it.

I see the trend now. You're in his "violent" movies.
[Laughs] "Life Aquatic" was violent. Yeah, I swatted the dog in that.

It's always weird when I'm flipping through channels and see you in an old episode of "Laverne & Shirley" or "Starsky and Hutch," or something. Do you see those when you're flipping around?
I do!

What do you think?
How lucky I am to have stayed active. Sometimes I see things and not only is it a reminder that I've been at it, but, jeez, I got another chance after that.

"Annie Hall" is the famous one, but there you are as "Freak" in "Death Wish."
I know.

You don't just blend in. It's so obviously you.
I stick out like a sore thumb.

I'd say a recently manicured thumb.
Thank you so much -- with a sweet, sweet thumb ring on it.

Was there a particular movie you did when you realized those kind of television appearances were over? Was it "The Big Chill"?
I still make guest appearances! "Glee" and "Portlandia" and "The League."

That's different. You're doing those as "Jeff Goldblum," because you want to, not "actor who needs work."
Well, you know, I've progressed. I was never particularly careerist or, "Gee, how am I doing?" I've got good representatives and I check in with my market continuum. But, thank goodness, I mostly got in it for the wild, passionate adventure of doing something I loved. Luckily, those seeds have sort of germinated into even more clear activities everyday of putting my head down and just kind of enjoying making stuff. I do love it, more than ever, for the sheer sake of its own pleasure.

Is that a conscious decision? You've been showing up in stuff like "Portandia" and "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie" ...
I love them.

Off the wall stuff. But there was a part of your career where you did a television show like "Raines," which was very mainstream. Are you now embracing wackier material, compared to just a few years ago?
Hmm. That's interesting. Like I say, I've never been particularly strategic or careerist -- and I don't separate one period from the next. But, I think I've gotten more and more clear that I just want to do things that excite me for the sheer pleasure of it and work with people who interest me and delight me. And this would certainly fall into that category. There's nothing to get out of this -- that I'm looking for, at least -- except the sheer pleasure of doing it.

You mention being delighted, one of the scenes that delights me to no end is the closing credits of "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension."

Thank you so much! I love that movie. And Peter Weller and I started a band that I'm still playing with.

Is he still playing in it?
He hasn't been in it for awhile. He's off and doing spectacular things, but I have a core group that is a later version of that thing that started and I do it every week -- at Rockwell in Los Feliz, whenever I'm not working. How did we start talking about that? We were talking about? We went from music with Peter Weller to ... "Buckaroo Banzai"! The last scene of "Buckaroo Banzai"!

A lot of those characters die in the movie, but they all come back to do that fun walk.
Well, you know, Wes Anderson, when we did "Life Aquatic" said -- well, I don't know who said it first, maybe I said, "Hey, you know, this little bow that you do at the end, that sort of reminds me ..." And he said, "Well, I'm a big fan of that movie and that's kind of it. That's kind of what I'm doing." So, there you go.

[The publicist comes in to tell us our time is up.]

Oh, we're done? We're coming to the end? [As we stand up, my knee hits the underside of the table we are at, sending the table and the contents of the table, which include a bottle of water and half of a cup of coffee, toward Goldblum, who somehow dodges both.] Jesus! Almost a disaster. That should never happen. You saw me, did I lean on it? [A waiter comes in to ask if we are okay.] Yeah [laughs], everybody is okay. Mike says he's suing for everything.

How did that happen? I think I might have done that.
I don't know. That was a magical occurrence.

I almost killed you. I'm sorry.
It was almost tragic.

I would have had a good title for this story, though. But I would have felt terrible.
"Jeff Goldblum Dies, But We Had A Nice Chat."

Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.

Go To Homepage

Before You Go

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" New York Premiere - Outside Arrivals

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" Premiere

Popular in the Community