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INTERVIEW: Jeff Goldblum on whether he’d rather fight dinosaurs or aliens

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Jeff Goldblum is as renowned for his off-the-wall interviews as he is for his movie roles. Forever associated with 1990s favourites Jurassic Park and Independence Day, he’s carved a niche as the offbeat intellectual in any number of Hollywood blockbusters. As he reprises his role as David Levinson in Independence Day: Resurgence, we sit down to talk about… well, anything that pops into his head.

Given the success of the first movie, were there any nerves in returning for a sequel?
I wouldn’t say I was nervous but I certainly felt responsible, as did Roland Emmerich, the brilliant director, who waited until he could deliver something that was worthy of people’s extra interest. But I was just thrilled to work with him again, he’s just so brilliant and a nice fellow. He and Dean Devlin created the first one and they created this one, too. A few years ago they called me, took me to dinner and told me the story. They said, “I think we’re very excited about this” – and so was I.

This time around, there’s the first female president. Good timing…
Well, Sela Ward plays the first female president of the United States. Women are potentially very powerful and can fulfil all jobs of leadership. And I believe in the higher education and potential fulfilment of all women and all people. So I love that part in this. Sort of the theme in this film and the first movie is strength in diversity and for all of us who live on this planet, any apparent difference is superficial. We are deeply, intimately connected with each other in a family way, and to fight amongst ourselves is tragic and stupid.

It must be quite different for you working with green screens in this movie. Special effects have come a long way in 20 years.
They have! I think that’s a lot of the reason Roland waited until now. Our sets were spectacular looking. Half of it was built and half of it… they just told us what it might look like. They worked with special effects companies all over the world and there are a lot of shots and a lot of things you haven’t seen before.
But you know, from one degree to another it’s the same challenge for the actors to pretend and say, “What are we looking at Roland? Oh, I see, okay… ‘AAAAAHHHH’”

Congratulations on becoming a dad for the first time while filming! Was your son’s July 4 birth date worked into the contract?
Ha! No. Charlie Ocean Goldblum. Born on July 4, Independence Day! Almost a year old already. They were all very sweet, they gave me a week off. The due date was on July 4, too, and the doctor said it can happen two weeks this way or that way. But they gave me a week so I was a little nervous… I made my way home to Los Angeles and it happened right on the due date, can you believe that? [Jeff gets out a picture of Charlie on his phone].

Do you think you were prepared to become a father?
No… I’m more prepared now. I’m glad I didn’t do it earlier on. It’s nice to slow down and just be with him, learn about him and parenting in general, and try to do my best. It’s kind of like the creative arts. You learn a lot of things, I read a lot… But it’s a growth experience, just like the creative fields, you go with your instincts and try to do the best. It redefines your relationship with your wife. I’m falling in love with her more daily.

So much has changed for you in the 20 years since the first film. If you could go back and give yourself advice, what would it be?
I think I would say to myself – trust yourself. Continue to try to relax and trust yourself more. Don’t suppress anything, include all of yourself. Any part of the human experience, there’s nothing wrong with it and the more you accept it, acknowledge it and include it, the healthier and the more creative and alive you’ll be.

You’ve come a long way in your career, too.
Yeah, sure. I was so lucky. I fell into the right school at 17, and even before I finished the course I fell into a fantastic job, acting on stage, and then the first audition I ever had was for a movie and I got it… Then a play I auditioned for after the movie, I got that. In between, in the last three decades there has been a lot of “I hope this” and “I’m disappointed about that”, but mostly it’s been continual, one thing after another. I feel nothing but predominantly grateful.

You’ve fought dinosaurs and aliens. Who would you rather face?
Well, if aliens were like the ones in Independence Day… not good aliens. But if the animals come around again,  respect them and let them have their own space. We have to figure out how to live peacefully with them. They don’t want to fight with us, so leave them alone and let them do what they need to do. The aliens of course, in our movie, they come looking for trouble and their ability to destroy us is so much greater than that of the animals. So, you know, I would say I would choose the challenge of an animal. Yeah, I’d choose the dinosaurs, because they’re more likely to leave us alone and not come after us. I do have bad dreams about animals that come and get me and stuff, though…!

Independence Day is released on July 7.

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