Jeff Goldblum isn’t really a morning person – much of the time, his sleep schedule is dictated by his work – but that doesn’t stop him from catching MSNBC’s Morning Joe whenever he can, sometimes as early as 3 a.m. if he’s lucky enough to be staying at his Los Angeles home.
Goldblum, the 58-year-old star of David Cronenberg’s 1986 sci-fi classic The Fly and, more recently, the USA network’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent, returns to the big screen this week with Morning Glory, the new comedy from director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) about a work-obsessed TV producer charged with rescuing a floundering morning talk show.
Cast as a network executive who never shelters his newest hire, played by a preternaturally perky Rachel McAdams, from the grim reality of her show’s sinking ratings, Goldblum says he relished the chance to get reacquainted with co-stars Diane Keaton, with whom he appeared in 1977’s Annie Hall, and Harrison Ford, who plays a curmudgeonly anchor relocated from prime time to the morning zoo.
As it happens. Goldblum shares the movie’s fascination with TV journalism, and has firsthand experience as a morning talk-show guest. “I’ll be on Today later this week and I’m going to be on Martha Stewart’s show too,” he says. Doing what? Martha, of course, will decide; guests do as they’re told.
“I think we’re going to be making ravioli this time. The last time I was on, it was around the holidays, and it was arranged that she and I would be making a menorah. This time, I’m told, we’re doing something related to a phyllo crust. I don’t do much cooking myself, but I’m interested to see what that might be.”
Jerry, his character in Morning Glory, isn’t quite as controlling as Martha – he gives McAdams’ embattled producer just enough rope either to lift herself up or tighten the noose around her last-place show. His wry deadpan plays beautifully against her irrepressible effervescence, and Goldblum sees Jerry as a major catalyst in her character’s journey of personal growth.
“I think she’s ripe for an experience from which she’ll learn something about how to artfully balance her work, her ambition and her addiction to thinking about the future with something more soulful,” he says.
“She finds something in her life that is more substantial than a job. That’s what the movie comes to be about, how she is humanized by what she learns, and I’m the tough-love guy who nurtures that in her. I like that.”
Goldblum, who recently finished a lengthy run in London’s West End in an Old Vic revival of Neil Simon’s The Prisoner of Second Avenue, has no immediate acting plans – he left Criminal Intent after two seasons in August – but when you see him again, be assured that it will be for all the right reasons.
“The only reason I do anything these days is for the creative thrills,” he says. “I had a wonderfully satisfying two years with Law & Order, and in the end I left not because I felt creatively stifled but so I could have new experiences – spending these last four months in London, getting back on stage and doing the kind of work I envisioned as a young man with a rather romantic view of acting.
“With Morning Glory, I thought it was a smart, funny story, I loved working with Rachel and Roger, and I think it makes a very valid point, which is that life is basically a flop for everyone, but what a wonderful flop it can be if we pause to appreciate the things that really matter most.”
Morning Glory opens Wednesday at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. For tickets and showtimes, click here.