|Earlier this week, I was very fortunate to be able to participate in a media conference call with Jeff Goldblum, star of Law & Order Criminal Intent (USA Network). I am very grateful that Jeff took an hour out of his busy schedule to talk about the show and to offer a few tidbits about himself. Jeff also gave listeners some details about the upcoming season premier two-part episode, but sorry, I’m sworn to secrecy and can’t pass along what I know about the exciting episodes. Let’s just say that the episodes are not to be missed! Based on some of the information Jeff relayed in this interview, I think that we could be in for a thrilling season of Law & Order Criminal Intent. (Part 1 airs on Tuesday, March 30. 2010 at 10PM ET on USA.)|
The transcript of the call is extremely long and, as I think Jeff made some excellent points along the way, let me summarize some of the statements that I think would be most important to fans. (Please note that there were several people in on this conference call so Jeff was responding to multiple questioners.) Jeff also spoke highly of Vincent D’Onofrio, Kathryn Erbe, and Eric Bogosian. But I think Jeff’s answer to one question about the concerns that fans have about the departure of these three fine actors was very insightful and he had an interesting outlook to how fans should approach the change:
"Well, let’s see. I mean, I totally under—First I’ll say to them, I totally understand you’re upset. Those were as fantastic a bunch of characters as I’d ever seen. And fantastic actors as we’ve ever had individually or together. And I’ll be watching for all of them wherever they go. I know Eric Bogosian is in a play right now here in New York and haven’t had time to see it, but I look forward to seeing it. And likewise, Vince and Katie.
As for what we’re doing, I’m doing my best and I’m enjoying it no end. And I think the writers, who are terrific, have written different characters but fascinating characters, at least to me.
I know in Saffron Burrows’s case, she’s such a special actress. I would encourage anybody—I would recommend and as part of this grief counseling of the loss of the old show and the old characters, I would recommend that they consider appreciating Saffron Burrows and Serena Stevens, her character. Saffron is such a uniquely beautiful actor inside and out. And wildly intelligent. Wildly intelligent. And so that they know, has passions, if they look her up a little bit, politically and having to do with the world that are very interesting and compelling to me. So fun to be around for me.
And she brings all of this to the show. She’s passionate and she’s been a movie star that I’ve been very interested in for a long time. We did a movie together called Fay Grim in Berlin some years ago with Parker Posey that Hal Hartley directed. And I’ve loved her in The Guitar and The Bank Job and Troy. So I would encourage people to really get into her and appreciate her. She’s sexy as can be and does this part they’ve written for her. A very interesting part, this detective from Chicago who has an interesting back story that we can only guess at a little bit and a daughter that we can guess at a little bit. We have to imagine about. But a very whole and multifaceted life.
And then, let me encourage them to get into Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. And seeing her every week. I adore her. We’d done a play together some years ago. But for anybody who’s seen her from the beginning in Scarface or The Color of Money or an eye on the stage here in New York through the years. She is spectacular, as talented deeply, richly talented and an actor as there is. Given to a rainbow of color choices in her paint box. And they’ve written for her just the beginnings already of a character that is very—that is not only unique, but multidimensional and colorful and complicated.
So I would, as a fan, I would tune in to see those two. That’s for sure."
He also added about Saffron Burrows and her character, Serena Stevens:
Well, I now know. We’ve done several cases together. And we work beautifully together, very dynamically. I think she’s great. You’re right. She is brilliant and has her own skill set and we just work very creatively together. And it’s, as much as anything, even given the dark and horrific and nightmarish circumstances that we’re always faced with, dead bodies and gruesome places and gruesome events, we seem to both get a thrill out of the fun and the adventure of the hunt, hunting down the bad guy.
And then, of course, I sort of—we get enrolled together and she gets enrolled in my by and by, in my other peck agenda, which is not so beside the point, which is, of course, finding out what the whole story was and why, criminal intent of course, that’s why it’s named that. Why, psychologically speaking, the person has done it? Not only who did it, but why they did it? And like I said, and I say it’s not beside the point because when we finally take it to court, that’s very much the point. Part of it you got to tell a jury hey, here’s the—we’re not going to get a conviction unless they can buy and believe the whole story and the motive and why this person might have done it.
But it’s beside that, a personal thrill for me. And a personal kind of side and overall contextualizing investigation to deepen my understanding of the deeply criminal types and thereby all of us and me. I’m on a kind of psycho spiritual investigation that fascinates me and that’s infinitely mysterious. And she and I become partners in that. And it’s absolutely thrilling.
Jeff also spoke about his ability to enjoy a laugh at his own expense, taking the rumors of his death on Twitter and turning it into a humorous appearance on the Colbert Report, but also indicated that the incident was “bizarre and engendered a rainbow of feelings in me, of course. It was upsetting. People called who hadn’t heard right away or had—and would be—and called up sad. Nobody, thankfully, ran their car off the road or had a heart attack or anything, but there was some trauma. And for that, I would dissuade people from doing this. And I’m sorry that it happened and all of that. But it was not of little interest to me to get in touch with, in some cases, people I hadn’t been in touch with for a while. And said oh, my gosh, is it true. …I’m glad you’re alive and it made me think of you and all that kind of stuff. And it was trippy, trippy.”
I also got to ask Jeff a few questions about his musical interests, because having a musical background myself and being close to Jeff’s age, I wanted to know what kinds of musical influences he had growing up. I also wanted to know if we’d see any new and interesting “Goldblumisms” showing up in Zach Nichols in season 9:
“Let’s see. Gee, I don’t know if I have any other show business tricks up my sleeve or any other talents. I’m just trying to play, be as smart as I can, and bring what I know is passion in the writing and in the character and in the real lives that we’re trying to depict.
We have a great guy named Mike Struck, who’s on the set all the time, who’s a real and a masterful detective and police person. And I realize all the time that to really do that job would be very difficult. You have to have a very particular skill set for it, talent for it, and appetite for it. And I’m just trying to pretend in a way that is at least believable. Boy, that would be a tough job, I tell you.
… I remember the school, the earliest stuff I can remember is when—I mean, the Beatles were introduced when I was a kid. So I was very thrilled about the Beatles, including the first couple of—I Want to Hold Your Hand and Love you, yeah, yeah, yeah. All that. When those came out on 45s, the world had changed in some way and I was very thrilled about it. And then a little later, when the White Album and Sergeant Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour came out, it meant a lot to me. It was a big deal….Early on, too, Motown stuff was big in those days. Stop in the Name of Love. And all the Motown stuff around then was big with me. Then, my parents, we had a hi-fi and…they had—they were jazz lovers and they had a couple of—they had some Erroll Garner records, a jazz pianist who’s active, who’s also from Pittsburgh as I am. That made an impression on me. And I remember hearing Thelonious Monk. And then, my older brother was a big jazz fan and got the Modern Jazz Quartet… was into that. And some Brazilian music. I remember Stan Getz, this album he had from Stan Getz from the Astrud Gilberto records. That made a big impression on me. All of those"
When another caller asked about the atmosphere on the set makes it feel like a new show, Jeff responded:
“Well, let’s see. I mean, I know I did eight of them last year and you’re right, it was different. It was all different cast members that year. But the stories and the quality of the writing and the high quality of the production and the crew is still the same. So it feels familiar but—and I miss the cast members who are gone. I adored them.
But it does feel like a new show in a lot of ways. And I’m crazy about Saffron Burrows and the character. They wrote it for her and the way she’s doing it. And Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is spectacular and I love her and her character, too. So yes, it feels kind of new to me."
When one caller expressed concerns that some fans may feel the show may be losing its edge, becoming lighter, with some calling it the “Jeff Goldblum Hour,” Jeff commented:
"First of all, I don’t—it’s news to me because I kind of don’t stay very in touch with all the—I’ve been consumed with making the show… I don’t know. I mean, everybody has their own opinion. I’m doing the best that I can and I know the writers are trying—there are some very heavy and gruesome episodes that we’ve done. But it’s true. I think part of their idea about my character is that I have a—I love. I’m very passionate for the work, for solving these crimes and for particularly investigating the intent, like the title says of having to do with why these criminal people, these people so far off the rails would have done what they’ve done and what that means for knowing about the human being generally and for myself.
I think I’m on a very passionate and mysterious and infinitely interesting, at least in my own character kind of mission. But that along with it, I have a great time, too. Whatever I’ve been through before. And we’ve made up a lot of stuff that hasn’t come to the surface, that doesn’t come to the surface conspicuously or literally. I’m at a place where I find myself very present, feeling very present and alive and enjoying myself no end. I think I enjoy myself. Even in these gruesome circumstances and I guess, even especially when there’s been shocking loss and all the physical world has been thrown into chaos. It feels like an opportunity to Zack Nichols to find what’s important in life and find the deeper meanings in life in a very enjoyable way. And I like solving the puzzle, too."
He also gives some insight to Zach Nichols and how he deals with the crimes he investigates:
"There were crimes—I mean, the first couple of episodes that depict this killing of my friend that I’m personally involved with. That’s a horrible thing. I think I’m very bothered and personally—it’s not just a matter of—I’m always bothered in the sense that I’m passionate and outraged and full of a fierce kind of sense of justice and wanting to solve this thing. But more so, I’m a very kind of a susceptible, vulnerable human kind of guy that they’ve written. And when my friend, and old partner, gets killed. Yes, I think it bothers me in a whole different and deeper way."
Jeff’s suggestion to look at this new season as almost like a grieving process is an interesting approach. Some fans are experiencing this change as they would any major loss a person may experience in real life. Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe have been THE SHOW to fans for years, and it will be a change some fans may not be able to get past. As I have mentioned a few times on this blog, I am keeping an open mind with the cast changes. I became a fan of Jeff in this show as last season progressed, and I think he will do a fine job in helping fans make the transition. In addition, his exuberance for the role made me feel more comfortable about the show as it moves forward with the revamped cast. Based on the feedback and emails I get on a daily basis about the changes in the show, I know there are some fans that will not be returning to the show once the change is made. While I have enjoyed all the actors in all of the shows in the Law & Order "universe”, I also have learned not to get too attached to any one person and to learn to embrace change. So I plan on continuing to watch the series, and also doing brief recaps and reviews after each one. I hope that fans of Law & Order Criminal Intent - and of Jeff Goldblum - will come along for the ride!