Jeff Goldblum has never been very good at sitting still. So when he was asked earlier this month to pose for a portrait, he handled the situation in his typical antsy fashion.
"Let's play a game. It will be a social lubricant," he implored a room full of publicists and assistants observing his photo shoot, from which he was trying to distract himself. "I name two actors, and you have to say which one you'd rather have sex with."
The onlookers approved — on the condition that Goldblum would answer such a question himself. He agreed, that is until he was asked to choose between Rachel McAdams and Diane Keaton, his costars in the new film "Morning Glory."
"Well, well, I can't answer that," he smiled coyly.
Goldblum, 57, is the kind of guy who likes to keep people on their toes — in his own life and on screen. The actor, perhaps still best known for his droll turns in the sci-fi classic "The Fly" and Steven Spielberg's " Jurassic Park," admits he has had no practical approach to his career.
"I'm more higgledy-piggledy. More flibbertigibbet," he said, sitting in the corner of a hotel restaurant after the photo session. "Not flibbertigibbet. But, um, but, um — more present-oriented."
Whatever that is, it's a method that seems to work for him.
In "Morning Glory," out Nov. 10, Goldblum plays Jerry Barnes, a television network executive who hires an inexperienced producer (McAdams) to run the station's flagging morning news show, "Daybreak." When his new hire is unable to rein in the show's eccentric hosts ( Harrison Ford and Keaton), Barnes threatens to cancel the show unless the ratings turn around.
Playing the grumpy authority figure is something that's slightly out of Goldblum's wheelhouse — he's more often the comic foil, as he was this summer opposite Jason Bateman in the romantic comedy "The Switch."
When asked why he found "Morning Glory" more appealing than any number of other projects sent his way, Goldblum seems to credit his collaborators.
"The director, Roger Michell, was particularly smart, sweet, generous — you know, interesting, fun, funny," he said, shrugging slightly. "And Rachel McAdams. Doing all those scenes with her. I liked that idea."
Still, the actor — who describes himself as "nothing if not conscientious" — said he prepared duly for the part, despite the fact that the supporting role did not entail much screen time. The rest of the cast had spent time with the producers of such morning shows as "Today." Goldblum too wanted to meet with a real-life counterpart to do his own research, so the producers set up some time between the actor and Phil Griffin, president of MSNBC.
"He's the guy who I think held the comparable job to my job in the film," Goldblum recalled. "He was very open and took me around the show sets and talked to me for a few hours and told me all sorts of things about how the job works and what that entailed."
The actor recently completed a four-month stint in London, where he appeared in a production of Neil Simon's "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" at the Old Vic Theatre. Since, he's returned to his home in Los Angeles, where he often plays gigs with his jazz group and has also begun taking voice lessons. He may soon resume teaching classes at North Hollywood's Playhouse West, the acting school he helped found in the '80s.
In August, he announced he would not return to "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" after two years on the USA drama.
"It had sort of exhausted its interest for me. I was deliciously satisfied with my delicious experience," he said. "I now feel particularly picky. Like, I want to do something only if it's of severe interest to me."
How those choices affect his reputation as an actor, Goldblum says, isn't of any concern to him.
"I don't know what people think of me. What do I care?" he asked. "I don't even know what I think of myself. I like being nothing in particular."