You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain.
Or so they say.
What if you do the opposite?
Then your name is probably Jeff Goldblum.
What is it about this 65-year-old man that he, as time marches on, has inspired so much good will and an almost overwhelming fan base? For those who do not know, Goldblum is one of the rare celebrities whose fame seems to transcend anything he’s actually done — and inexplicably grows with age. That is not to say he does not boast an impressive résumé, but for legions of young fans he has become what The Washington Post’s Elahe Izadi cleverly dubbed a “beloved living meme.”
The Internet was abuzz — more than usual — with Goldblum chatter Thursday, because he announced the release of his debut jazz album (yes, you read that correctly) shortly after shocking everyone with a surprise visit London’s St. Pancras railway station on Wednesday to tickle the ivories for commuters. Even fellow celebrities were shocked. Tweeted an (extremely chill) DJ Jubilee: “WHY WAS JEFF GOLDBLUM AT ST PANCRAS TODAY I WAS ALSO AT ST PANCRAS TODAY.”
That’s right, the man once known to a generation of youngsters as the chaos theory-spouting Dr. Ian Malcolm from “Jurassic Park” is releasing 14 tracks of cool jazz. The mere fact Goldblum plays jazz is one of his many delightful qualities fans have clung to. That he is releasing an entire album of the stuff, with comedian Sarah Silverman handling vocals on the 1920s tune “Me and My Shadow,” is just icing on the cake.
The record, titled “The Capitol Studios Sessions,” will drop on Nov. 9. Perhaps more importantly, it presents us with a good opportunity to dive into his unique brand of fame.
The Internet contains multitudes, among them the ability to transform regular people into viral versions of themselves. Goldblum is one of these phenomena, much like fellow actor Bill Murray.
Lately, it feels as if — to borrow a few overused terms — Goldblum is “having a moment” or that we have reached “peak Goldblum.” The jazz album and surprise performance are only the tip of the iceberg.
For nearly a decade, the man, the myth, the legend has inspired an overwhelming number of memes. As Izadi wrote last April, the “ ‘Jeff Goldblum is watching you poop’ image popped up around 2002 on a Geocities site (old-school!), with a call to actually print these bad boys out and plaster them on bathroom stalls. In real life.”
A tremendous number of online memes followed during the ensuing 16 years, many focused around a sexy shot of the actor from “Jurassic Park,” in which he lies on his side like a swimsuit model, black shirt unbuttoned to reveal a firm, tan and slightly cut torso heaving beneath.
These videos are nothing compared with what appeared in a London riverside park in July. There, slightly obscuring the iconic Tower Bridge, was a 25-foot, 330-pound statue of Goldblum-as-Malcolm stretched out in that sultry pose. London natives and visitors alike flocked to the statue to snap Instagram pics, shared under the hashtag #JurassicJeff.
It seems as if no one can ever get enough Goldblum. Just last week, a Twitter user shared a few images from a thrift shop he recently visited that filled every single picture frame they had with an image of the actor.
Sadly for all the other Goldblumites out there, the location of said shop was not disclosed. The tweeter did, however, inspire a Wired columnist to post a photograph of his office restroom. Perhaps you can guess how it’s decorated.
So, what is it about Goldblum?
He has always been well-liked. Actress Glenn Close once called him “charm personified,” adding: “The demented smile, the verbal agility, the jerky yet somehow graceful way he moves. A lot of arm stuff. The most charming thing of all? That he’s a wonderful husband and father.”
“He makes you so damn happy to be alive,” onetime girlfriend Laura Dern added.
But why does the Internet love him so much?
We may never know, but it certainly seems like he stokes the fires of such eccentric fandom. For one, he’s leaned into on-screen absurdity in the later years of his acting career. He injected “Thor: Ragnarok” with some seriously surreal, off-kilter energy as the fabulously dressed Grandmaster (who, in one deleted scene, appears to make out with alien tentacles (???)). He’s also portrayed any number of kooky characters in Wes Anderson’s recent films.
He’s also appeared in all manner of oddball comedy shows, from “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” to “Inside Amy Schumer” to “The League.” In a classic “Portlandia” sketch, he plays a dude who sells artisanal knots to hapless hipsters — and gives a far better performance than the sketch requires.
And, while he reprieved his iconic Malcolm for “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” even that smacked of a winking inside joke. Though the film’s promotion heavily featured Goldblum, the actor barely appeared in the film, save for giving a speech to Congress in the opening and closing moments of the movie. It looks like his entire role was shot in a single day.
Goldblum, in other words, seems up for anything. These roles, after all, are a far cry from those of his youth, when he appeared in movies like “The Big Chill” and “The Right Stuff.” Sure, he always dabbled in comedy, but never was he quite as madcap.
Perhaps more endearing to his fans, however, are Goldblum’s off-screen antics.
Showing up at a rail station in London to play piano is a perfect example. And, again like Murray, it is not the first time he has appeared somewhere unexpected. In April, Goldblum randomly materialized in Sydney, serving free sausages out of a black food truck decorated with his face named “Chef Goldblum’s.”
When asked about it by a local radio station, Goldblum cheekily and cryptically responded, “It’s kind of a secret, it’s a mystery that I can’t divulge, but I’m filming something here that has something to do with food . . . Very soon you’ll know — you may be less surprised than you think.”
At the GQ Men of the Year Awards 2018 ceremony held Wednesday, famous actor and Taylor Swift ex Tom Hiddleston awarded Goldblum the “Haig Club Icon Award.” The beloved actor/jazz musician/living statue walked onto stage in his entirely gold suit and immediately told the crowd about searching for himself on Instagram and coming across “many sketches and renderings and cartoons” of his and Hiddleston’s characters from “Thor: Ragnarok” “involved in what seems to be a deeply romantic and wildly sexual relationship.”
“I cherish every single one of those, and I will for the rest of my life,” he said. “Tom Hiddleston, ladies and gentlemen, a very, very tender lover, I’m sure. I’m positive.”
And that is sort of the point. He takes everything in stride, playing along with the online memes, even seeking out and rating them.
For all of this, people love him. Amid all this jazzy news, one Twitter user painted a pretty telling portrait of how the man’s fans view him with a single tweet that serves as something of an adage in these strange and tumultuous times: “Always be yourself. Unless you can be Jeff Goldblum. Then always be Jeff Goldblum.”