Jeff Goldblum is 61. In person, even more than on screen, he looks, say, 48—tops. What keeps this inimitable, endlessly entertaining actor so spry and svelte that he can slip into off-the-rack Margiela suits? According to him, it's a steady intake of greens (chopped or liquefied), and a steady output of comically articulate work, like the kind he delivers in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel (in theaters now) and Roger Michell's Le Week-End (opening March 14 in limited release).
Catching up with DETAILS at Soho's Crosby Street Hotel (after our first chat at Budapest's Berlin premiere), Goldblum took the reins and kicked off the conversation himself, opening the door for a spirited, freewheeling chat about music, salad-making techniques, and, of course, style.
JEFF GOLDBLUM: What's your name?
DETAILS: I'm Kurt.
JEFF GOLDBLUM: K-U-R-T? You don't know a singer named Kurt Elling, do you?
DETAILS: I don't.
JEFF GOLDBLUM: Oh, I recommend that you do, especially if you like jazz, He's a well-respected jazz singer. Look up Kurt Elling.
DETAILS: I'll do that. I know you like jazz; you're a jazz pianist, right?
JEFF GOLDBLUM: I am. A hobbyist. But I love it. I play daily just for fun, and I play out and about once a week whenever I'm not working, currently, at Rockwell, which I invite you to come to. It's a place in Los Feliz by my house in L.A.
DETAILS: If you weren't a professional actor, would you have been a professional musician?
JEFF GOLDBLUM: I'm barely a professional anything, but I like playing, I know that. I like the idea of being an amateur anything, which I think is just for the love of it. I think I'm an amateur actor, and yeah, I do love music.
DETAILS: Who makes your suit?
JEFF GOLDBLUM: Margiela.
DETAILS: And Margiela made the suit you were wearing at the Berlin Film Festival. A blue suit. I don't think you'd even hemmed the pants yet.
JEFF GOLDBLUM: As I haven't here!
DETAILS: Why is that?
JEFF GOLDBLUM: Because they seemed, off the rack, to come to the right length, and I didn't want to fool with them. And there's something so aesthetically right about them. I didn't fool with anything. That's why Margiela is particularly good for me. This waist was perfect exactly like it was off the rack. And the length of the pants! So I thought it was great—give it to me, I'll wear it today. How do you like this watch? What do you think about that?
DETAILS: Who makes it?
JEFF GOLDBLUM: Max Bill.
DETAILS: And the glasses?
JEFF GOLDBLUM: Tart Optical.
DETAILS: You had a clear pair in Berlin.
JEFF GOLDBLUM: Also Tart Optical.
DETAILS: A company you swear by?
JEFF GOLDBLUM: I like them. They're very nice and they donate these to me, and then I get my prescription put in. They're vintage-y and kind of retro.
DETAILS: They're a little Tinker Tailor.
JEFF GOLDBLUM: Oh really? Soldier Spy. Yeah? Yeah! Do you like them?
DETAILS: Yeah, I do. Chic style seems to be something that's become part of your aura as a celebrity, especially lately. Is that something you've come to embrace more as you've matured as an actor, being more of a style guy?
JEFF GOLDBLUM: Well, I don't know what kind of guy I am, but I do like [style]. When I play parts, I'm interested in the costume early on because what I wear does sort of determine, for me, how I feel and who I think I am. Likewise, in my own closet, it's kind of a nice little creative project for me. I get an appetite for something and strong convictions about one thing or another. I like design. And sometimes, if a part is contemporary, something will occur to me and I'll suggest and collaborate if I'm allowed to.
DETAILS: Was there any style collaboration on The Grand Budapest Hotel or Le Week-End?
JEFF GOLDBLUM: For Grand Budapest, I got the glasses, in fact. You don't need to really collaborate with Wes, because he's got a drawing for everything, as you can imagine, and then there's Milena Canonero, who's a great costume designer. She worked with Kubrick—I love her and her whole Italian team of people who ensconced themselves and made everything. But I did find those glasses that are in the movie. They had somebody with a wonderful tray of glasses in the vein of what Wes had already drawn and imagined, but none of them were right, and I thought, "Well I've got a few weeks—I'm going back to L.A. and I know some vintage-y collectors. I'll see what I can do based on these ideas." And I found those glasses! So how about that? On Le Week-End there was a very nice costume person, but I brought a bunch of my own stuff and wound up using a few things in that.
DETAILS: You're entrance in Le Week-End is one of my favorite scenes of yours. Immediately, you set up your character, Morgan, as this impossibly charming—forgive me—douchebag.
JEFF GOLDBLUM: Yeah, yeah. Thank you.
DETAILS: It's just fantastic. He's as slick as his clothes in that moment, and I'm glad that you said you contributed some of them.
JEFF GOLDBLUM: Yeah. I forget what those were. I don't like to collect things; I like to recycle things if I know people my size. I sort of contribute or re-gift.
DETAILS: Your character hosts a dinner party in Le Week-End. When you host a dinner party, do serve a house-special drink or appetizer?
JEFF GOLDBLUM: I like to host a thing here or there, but I'm not like the character in Le Week-End in that way, or like Wes, who would have a dinner every night in Germany during [the Grand Budapest] shoot, and have a chef come in who would cook. It was kind of fantastic. I'm not such a party giver. I wish I were. I'm much more of a party goer in L.A. And I'm not much of a cook myself, but recently I've been making things, like a smoothie. It's good for all hours of the day, and I have a big, industrial-strength Vita-Mix for it.
DETAILS: What do you put in it?
JEFF GOLDBLUM: Greens, of all kinds. Green galore. Carrots, apples, and berries of all kinds. Cherries. Nonfat Greek yogurt, liquids, and just mix it up.
DETAILS: What about cocktails?
JEFF GOLDBLUM: I'm not so much of a drinker. And then I make salads these days. I like the chopped salad. And the key to the chopped salad is a big bowl. It's better than going to a restaurant because they use a plate and it doesn't fit. Get a big bowl, put lots of greens in, put some healthy dressing on, and start chopping. Toss it by chopping in the bowl.
DETAILS: You know, sometimes that can be done with a pizza cutter.
JEFF GOLDBLUM: I don't know that! I have a little steak knife and a fork that I use. Wait a minute! This may be a game-changer! That's a popular, trendy phrase. I hate trendy phrases, but yeah, that's a game-changer. Pizza cutter. Okay, good. So anyway, those are my two items—smoothies and salads. Plus some grain. Some whole grains that I put in a Japanese cooker.
DETAILS: Looking back on your work, I realized you've been a part of many great ensembles, in both minor or major roles, from The Big Chill and Nashville to Jurassic Park and, of course, the Wes Anderson films. How is working in an Anderson ensemble different?
JEFF GOLDBLUM: Well, there's no one like him, nor has there ever been anyone like him, nor will there ever be anyone else like him. He's an important and serious filmmaker at the height of his power and developing into such an interesting cinematic voice. He's so special, and stylish and sweet. And bright. And, in fact, since you mentioned Nashville, I think he wants to, like Robert Altman, make the filming itself into an art project. He gathers these families together and has this wonderful experience.
—R. Kurt Osenlund is an arts and entertainment writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Follow him at @AddisonDeTwitt.
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