Jeff Goldblum: On My Culture Radar
The actor-turned-jazz musician on working with Imelda May, Martin McDonagh and Bryan Cranston
Jeff Goldblum: “Imelda May is the cream of the crop, you don’t get better than her.”
Current favourite book?
I recently read a book called Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire by Kurt Andersen. It’s a very stimulating, thought-provoking book on the nature of the American character from the very start of their European adventure. It really appealed to me especially as I was doing this movie called The Mountain, which has themes of American failings of one kind or another. Kurt is a heck of a thinker.
There’s a Thai restaurant in a mini-mall in Los Angeles called Jitlada that was recommended by [restaurant critic] Jonathan Gold, who was the subject of the documentary City of Gold. We did a 10-minute video of us cooking together. He passed away a couple of months ago, too early, but I have good memories there.
Sarah Silverman, who plays on my album. She’s not only a hilarious performer but an interesting thinker and an activist. I like her very much; I’ve known her over the years and I’m so glad she was on the album.
I keep revisiting Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. I saw it most recently as the production of Mike Nichols before he died, with Philip Seymour Hoffman in the role of Willy Loman before he died. It was fantastic. Also I did a play called The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh, who wrote and directed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. He spent every day with us on that play, so I came to know him and loved him very much. I love that play and I love all his plays. He’s found a unique, brave and high-integrity artistic voice, and he can combine grotesque violence with wild humour. He’s so wildly talented. Also Light at the Piazza is a musical that drives me crazy with delight, it’s a romantic musical.
I revisit the work of Philip Guston who is a wonderful painter. And I love Francis Bacon, whose painting are featured at the start of The Last Tango in Paris, a movie that I love. There’s no one like him. I loved seeing pictures of his studio as he worked a very chaotic way, but he was so brilliant and gets to the depth of the human soul somehow; our madness, complication and the contradictory facets of the human experiences.
I was just playing with the band, including Imelda May, with whom I am thrilled to work, in Paris, Berlin and London, and I liked all three of those cities. I was left with a very sweet taste in my mouth from the audiences that came to our shows. Imelda is the cream of the crop, you don’t get better than her. I love her so much. She’s so much fun that I wish I could have gone out with her, but I had to go home and get my rest. But she said we should go to Dublin and play music there, so I want to figure that out with her, I’d love to play in Ireland.
Of course I love our album a lot, and someone just turned me on to the ballad album that Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane did together. It’s a wildly romantic album.
I watched every episode of Breaking Bad. I came to know Bryan Cranston a bit during Isle of Dogs, which was just nominated for a Golden Globe. He’s spectacular in Breaking Bad and I love anything that he does.
I’m a fan of all the actors in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. It’s the Coen Brothers’ episodic short films on Netflix, and all the cast are wonderful, but I particularly loved seeing Tom Waits again. He’s a musician who I’ve admired and I always love to see him in movies. He worked with Robert Altman in Short Cuts too, which is a favourite of mine.
Social media profile
Till Bronner, who plays on our album and is the best trumpeter in the whole world, played again with us on this European tour. He’s also a great photographer, so he’s a fountain of not only musical inspiration but visual brilliance. He’s on Instagram as @tillbroennerphotography.
Jeff Goldblum’s album, The Capitol Studios Sessions, is out now.