From The Fly to Disney+: Jeff Goldblum's Lifelong Love of Movie Monsters

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“I had seen Lon Chaney [Sr.],” Goldblum says when we ask about his fascination with monsters and what compelled him to become one. Referring to the first Lon Chaney who was also known as the Man of a Thousand Faces, Goldblum alludes to the iconic transformations of the silent film star, who one month could become the monstrously disfigured Phantom of the Opera and in another the tragic Quasimodo. Goldblum also speaks affectionately of growing up and seeing Bela Lugosi in re-releases of Dracula (1931), Boris Karloff in Frankenstein (1931), and Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolf Man (1941).

“My sister and I went and saw a double bill where we saw I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and I Was a Teenage Werewolf with Michael Landon, you know, Little Joe from Bonanza and from Little House on the Prairie. But one of his early movies was I Was a Teenage Werewolf… I liked that!”

For Goldblum, it was the appeal of going through a similar transformation, as well as his friendship with William Hurt–whom he worked on Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill in 1983, and who had before that starred in Cronenberg’s Altered States (1980)–which drew him to getting the Lon Chaney treatment. Whereas certain other actors read script treatments for The Fly and shuddered, Goldblum smiled.

“At the time there was no question for me,” Goldblum says, “I just go with my gut feeling and my instincts. And I remember when I read that script, I’d maybe seen when I was a kid the original The Fly—we saw a lot of Vincent Price movies, my sister and I. We used to go to the Leona Theater in Pittsburgh. We saw a bunch of those. [So] I read it, and there was no question about it. I thought, ‘This is fantastic. I want to do this.’”

It’s just one of the career triumphs Goldblum can nod to, if even in passing, in The World According to Jeff Goldblum. In the same “Monsters” episode, the Grand Budapest Hotel actor also visits the workshop of Phil Tippett, another Oscar winning special effects guru who worked on, among other things, Jurassic Park (1993) alongside Goldblum. The performer teases that Tippett “speaks very eloquent and poetical about monsters and our shadow selves, and how to form monsters that really dig deep into people’s guts and psyches.”

Yet the whole series seems to be an excuse for Goldblum to dig into his own personal psyche and the long harbored passions which drove him as a child. In the first season, he did entire episodes on things as universally beloved as ice cream and swimming pools, and in the second season he takes similar deep dives into the ancient histories our species has with dogs or dance. But each of these subject matters, like movie monsters, are also matters that personally mean a lot specifically to Goldblum’s youth.

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