Did You Know They Were Jewish?



“I now, more and more, appreciate when I’m in a group of good people and get to work in good movies and projects. I’m wildly grateful and appreciative.” – Jeff Goldblum.

You may feel like you’ve been seeing a lot of Jeff Goldblum lately. That’s because his latest film, Independence Day: Resurgence, the much-delayed sequel to the 1990s smash hit, Independence Day has hit the cinemas. Essentially helming the film after Will Smith, star of the original, declined to return, Goldblum steps back into the role of leading man with ease.

Now 63, Goldblum has had a varied career, stepping in and out of roles that constantly play with his image. From action hero (Jurassic Park), to science nerd (Independence Day), to well a fly in, well, er, The Fly, Goldblum is always a charismatic presence. Film critic Mark Kermode recently described him as having the same speech mannerisms of Christopher Walken: “He talks as if he’s taken out all the punctuation of a script and makes it his own.” It’s certainly true that in whatever role he chooses, he is unmistakably Jeff Goldblum. It’s his attractively casual but suave nature that has become his trademark.

Jeffrey Goldblum was born in 1952, one of four children, in Pittsburgh, to a Russian doctor, Harold, and his mother, a radio broadcaster. Raised in the Orthodox faith, he had a typical Jewish upbringing. He taught himself to play the piano and got his first job aged 15 playing in a restaurant and cocktail bar. At 17, he decided not to go to university and moved to New York to study acting at the Neighbourhood Playhouse. He moved straight to Hollywood, where he’s been ever since.

Also an accomplished jazz pianist, he declared that if he did not act, he would have become a professional musician. He can be often seen playing with his jazz group, the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra at the Café Carlyle in New York.

Beginner’s Guide to Jeff Goldblum

The Fly (1986)
Making a memorable leading man debut in David Cronenberg’s seminal body horror classic. Goldblum excels as eccentric scientist who turns into a fly after an experiment goes horribly wrong. It remains up there with Alien (1979) for stomach-churning sci-fi gore. It also starred his then-future wife, Geena Davis.

The Tall Guy (1989)
An oft-forgotten British film, written by pre-Four Weddings Richard Curtis, The Tall Guy saw Goldblum starring alongside Emma Thompson and Rowan Atkinson. Here we get early glimpses of his effortless ear for comedy.

Jurassic Park (1993) and Independence Day (1996)
Most actors, if they’re lucky, get to be part of at least one successful action franchise. Goldblum in the 1990s was the go-to ‘thinking woman’s crumpet’ in both Spielberg’s ground-breaking Jurassic Park and Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day. Both have spawned sequels with various degrees of success, and nearly all of them have brought Goldblum back in to recreate his usual screen magic.

Adam Resurrected (2008)
Until this harrowing film in 2008, Goldblum hadn’t acted in roles in which his Jewishness is an integral part of the character. Goldblum is Adam Stein, a former circus performer who lives through concentration camp incarceration and later works in an asylum for Holocaust survivors. The details of his experiences are hard to swallow, and Goldblum sells it completely.