Unconventionally handsome and equipped with a famously peculiar speaking cadence, actor Jeff Goldblum has been intriguing audiences for decades. As he celebrates his 66th birthday, today might be a good time to catch up on all things Goldblum, from his debut as a street hood in Death Wish to the reason he sometimes poops orange.
1. HE USED TO WRITE AFFIRMATIONS IN THE SHOWER.
Growing up in Pittsburgh—his father was a doctor, his mother a radio broadcaster—Jeff Goldblum kept his desire to be an actor hidden from others, believing he’d be ridiculed for it. To maintain his motivations, he would write affirmations on his glass shower door. “I'd write every morning, because I hadn't told anyone, even my parents or friends, that I wanted to act, it was embarrassing or something, and I knew it was too important to me to have it be anything but a secret,” Goldblum told The Guardian in 2010. “But the door would steam up, I didn't dare keep a diary or anything, and I'd write 'Please God, let me be an actor,' and then, before I left the shower, I would wipe it off." After studying acting as a teen during the summer at Carnegie Mellon University, Goldblum moved to New York and got his big-screen break playing “freak number one” in 1974’s Death Wish.
2. HE TRIED TO HIRE A PROSTITUTE AT THE AGE OF 13.
Virile even before he achieved fame, Goldblum told UK television host Graham Norton that he once tried to procure the company of a prostitute at the age of 13. In order to afford the appointment, he stole five dollars from his father’s wallet. “I’d heard about the red light district so I took five dollars from my dad’s wallet and went there,” he said. “I walked back and forth for a while and finally went in and picked a girl. On the way to the bedroom I said, ‘What time is it?’ I looked at my watch and said, ‘I’ve got to go but I will come back.’” He did not return.
3. HE SOLD PENCILS TO PRISONERS.
Before acting paid the bills, Goldblum spent time as a pencil salesman. Speaking to Vanity Fair, Goldblum revealed that his arrival in California was marked by auditions in between the odd gig peddling office supplies to correctional facilities. He quit after falling ill and vowed to stick with his creative pursuits.
4. HE FIRST WENT FULL GOLDBLUM FOR INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.
Goldblum is aware of his distinctive delivery of dialogue—usually a melodic kind of stammering peppered with “uhs” and pregnant pauses—and believes he knows where it came from. Filming a small role in 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Goldblum recalled a line in the script (“I never thought they would come in metal ships”) came out as “I-I-I-I never thought they would come in … metal ships.” Director Philip Kaufman liked the take, leading Goldblum to conclude he had found his rhythm. “That’s kind of … I sort of … I think I found something,” he said in 2018.
5. HE HAD EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS WITH HIS BREAKTHROUGH ROLE IN THE FLY.
Released in 1986, The Fly stands as one of the most viscerally-grueling experiences in the horror genre. As scientist Seth Brundle, whose DNA is intermingled with that of an insect, Goldblum articulates a horrifying transformation. Off-camera, he was having problems of his own. His then-girlfriend, Geena Davis, had been cast as Brundle’s love interest and Goldblum had real issues watching her perform in intimate scenes with actor John Getz. At one point, Goldblum was told to leave the set to deal with his reaction privately.
6. THERE WAS OSCAR BUZZ FOR HIS ROLE AS BRUNDLEFLY.
Though it went on to become a cult hit, The Fly may have been too disgusting for general audiences to embrace. That still didn’t stop Goldblum’s performance as Seth Brundle from being the recipient of Oscar buzz when the film was eligible for the 1987 Academy Awards. Unfortunately, it didn’t come to pass. Despite critical raves, it was believed the Academy passed up Goldblum because his performance came in the context of a horror film. The actor was candid about his disappointment, telling the Chicago Tribune that “as much as I'm interested in the integrity of the work itself, there is a part of me that is sensitive to criticism, that delights to have any talent I may have acknowledged. I did hope that I would be nominated; I was excited about the possibility; there had been a lot of talk about it, and I was disappointed and hurt in a way.”
7. HE CO-FOUNDED AN ACTING SCHOOL.
Interested in learning the Goldblum method? You may not be able to slip entirely into the actor’s distinctive mannerisms, but you can take lessons endorsed by him. Goldblum co-founded Playhouse West in Los Angeles in 1981 with Robert Carnegie and credits the experience he received there with helping him land a role in 1983’s The Big Chill. Later, Goldblum transitioned to teaching classes based on the principles of acting coach Sanford Meisner. Notable trainees of the class include Jim Carrey, Ashley Judd, and Karate Kid co-star Martin Kove.
8. HIS POOP WAS SOMETIMES ORANGE.
A self-admitted health nut, Goldblum has remained remarkably well-preserved for a man of 65. He credits clean living and a generally balanced diet, though there have been times he went overboard on the latter. “My first wife and I would bring our juicer on planes, and we’d do a carrot cleanse for a week, until I’d turn orange and all my poop would be orange,” he told GQ in 2017. “Things that I wouldn’t adhere to now. Now I just get a good night’s sleep.”
9. HE LIKES TO BROWSE #JEFFGOLDBLUM ON INSTAGRAM.
Goldblum inspires a lot of creativity online, which the actor himself enjoys curating via Instagram. “I like to look at #jeffgoldblum on Instagram, which my wife makes fun of,” he told GQ in 2017. “And then I take pictures of the things that interest me. There are many paintings and pictures of me, some nice and some very primitive and bad. People get tattoos of my face. This is me in a banana split, where I’m the center of a dessert. People made a balloon out of me … very nipply. Quite nipply.”
10. YOU CAN SEE HIM PLAY JAZZ ALMOST EVERY WEEK.
Provided you live in Los Angeles. Goldblum is part of an ensemble jazz group, the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, that meets at Rockwell Table & Stage on a weekly basis. Goldblum is said to enjoy mingling with the crowd and chatting up customers during these semi-regular gatherings. If you can’t make it, the group is due to record an album which will be released by Decca Records in the near future.