The dinosaurs roar loose on June 22, so we eked out some time with Jeff Goldblum and Justice Smith to talk about their veteran and newbie status with Jurassic World.
In the much-awaited sequel to 2015’s Jurassic World, Fallen Kingdom finds dino-veteran Jeff Goldblum reprising his role as Dr. Ian Malcolm and also welcomes newcomer Justice Smith (The Get Down) into the action blockbuster ranks playing the courageous, geeky, and anxious tech specialist Franklin.
It comes as no secret that Jeff Goldblum is a national treasure. A sweet man who sauntered into our hearts via movie classic’s like The Fly, Independence Day, and the film this new batch of movies are born from Jurassic Park. I asked him what it was like coming back after 25 years to play Dr. Malcolm. “You know, people would come up to me, and through the years I could see how excited they are by it. Then I was a fan of [director] J.A. Bayona, and I’ve seen all his movies and was thrilled with the idea of working with him and Colin Trevorrow who directed the last one and wrote this one. […] I was thrilled to do whatever I could.”
Jeff Goldblum is on screen only for a limited amount of time, but he sets the tone and the stakes that unfold throughout the movie. Dr. Ian Malcolm’s words are the foundation on which the plot of this movie is made. Franklin, played by Justice Smith, steals every scene he is in. He brings levity and humor to dire situations, and Smith pulls it off wonderfully. This is his first big action blockbuster film, but that didn’t deter him. He quickly fell in love with the action sequences and had a lot of fun with it. When I asked if there were any stunts he found daunting he shared a wild story.
“The stuff that was the most daunting, which is such a small part of the movie, was when I had to run and jump onto the back of the truck. Because I was not tied in, I was not harnessed up, I wasn’t in anything. It was actually me running and leaping onto a truck that was going 50 miles an hour? I have no idea, it was crazy. And the very last take that we shot, I make the jump, and my foot misses the platform in which I’m supposed to land on, and I just think, this is the day that I die. And then suddenly Chris [Pratt] grabs me out of the air and pulls me onto the truck.”
What is excellent about this impressive stunt is that it looks so effortless in the film. But, luckily for Justice after that take Bayona had captured the wild feat, and he was free to leap another day. Justice brought his whole heart to the role, and it shows on screen. But, when I talked to Jeff Goldblum, the man with extensive dinosaur fighting experience on whether he would be interested in taking on a more prominent part in the next film, he said, “Yeah, Who knows? We’ll see what they come up with, but the brilliant Colin Trevorrow is working on the script right now with Emily Carmichael. Like if nothing were to ever happen again, I’d be satisfied for life. [Working on Jurassic World] has been so delicious and such a horn of plenty for me.” Jeff Goldblum isn’t just starring in multiple summer films, he was also announced that he is working on a new jazz album with his band, The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra.
Every Wednesday night in Los Angeles Goldblum plays a jazz show at The Rockwell Theater, and I, a fan of music asked the musician/actor whether he would ever consider creating a song for the Jurassic World franchise. “So funny. Uh, yes, I’d love to sing the opening credits for the next ‘Jurassic Park’ film, like Tom Jones in a ‘James Bond’ movie. I think that’s what this franchise needs, and I’d never thought about it before, but I’m going to pitch it now.” and then he sang a few bars of his own rendition of the Jurassic Park theme, and it was as magical as you’d think.
I hit both Goldblum and Smith with one final question, for Justice, I asked him about his history with the original franchise. “I used to do these road trips with my dad all the time, and we have this portable DVD player, and I would just watch all three of the original Jurassic Park’s back to back to back. I’m a huge horror fan now, and I think it was because of the horror elements in that original film. Um, I just love seeing people get eaten. There’s a lot of that in this film and so much more.” The horror in this new film is kicked up to 11, which makes the film a more thrilling ride, the amped-up tension, and the eerie silence, Justice is entirely right when he says there’s so much more.
With Mr. Goldblum, I went back to Jurassic Park II and asked him about a possible return of Kelly Curtis, his movie daughter/gymnast who kicked butt. “I would love to have Kelly come back. I imagine that over the 20 years, if you haven’t seen me, uh, I imagine she and I are as close as where you last left us. And have grown even closer. I think I’d been deeply supportive of her blossoming empowerment and uh, intellectual freedom. I love that actor, and I love that character, and I loved our relationship. She [Vanessa Chester] came to one of our shows at the Rockwell recently, and I was surprised to see her, and we had a lovely reunion, so that’d be amazing.”
From Justice’s harrowing stunts to Goldblum’s jazz career Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a remarkable homecoming for veterans of the series and a fantastic welcome to newcomers. If you want to start your summer movie watching off right then, I suggest you make sure you see this film.
Jazmine Joyner is a Southern California based writer, whose work has appeared in /Film, Women Write About Comics, Wear Your Voice Magazine and Ms En Scene. You can follow her great cinematic adventure on Twitter @Jazmine_Joyner.