What it’s like Bigfoot hunting with Jeff Goldblum
“This is not real,” Greg Newkirk said. “This cannot possibly be real.”
Not Bigfoot. He and his wife Dana, professional paranormal investigators, have spent countless hours in the woods searching for the mythic Sasquatch in their careers. What he couldn’t believe was that Jeff Goldblum, the multi-hyphenate renaissance man who’s experiencing a late-career renaissance of his own, was asking for the Newkirks to take him Bigfoot hunting for his Disney Plus show.
On “The World According to Jeff Goldblum,” the actor takes a deep dive into one seemingly familiar topic for each episode. On the first season, which aired in late 2019 and early 2020 and earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding hosted nonfiction series, the actor explored things like tattoos, sneakers and ice cream. For season two, the first five episodes of which drop today on Disney Plus, he’s exploring topics like fireworks, magic and — this is where the Newkirks come in — monsters.
“At first glance, no matter what, most people always think the existence of Bigfoot is weird and strange,” Greg Newkirk said, “but the more you actually dig into Bigfoot and the legends and experiences that people had, you realize that Bigfoot is much weirder than you initially thought.”
The thing is, the Newkirks aren’t traditional Bigfoot hunters like the cryptozoologists (those who study legendary animals like the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti) who appear on shows like “Expedition Bigfoot,” traversing the woods looking for physical evidence of cryptids.
“We can’t track animals,” Greg Newkirk said. “I’m not going to pick up scat and tell you what it belongs to.”
Courtesy of Disney
“We can’t put our finger in the air and tell which direction the wind is going,” Dana Newkirk added. “There are a lot of weirder directions we take when it comes to Bigfoot.”
But as you might expect from Jeff Goldblum, weirder is better, even when it comes to very weird subjects. It turns out he asked for them specifically, as a producer told the Newkirks, because “he wants to hang out with people he thinks are fun.”
In a (what some might call pseudoscientific) field saturated with ghost hunters, UFOlogists and cryptozoologists, the Newkirks have carved a niche for themselves by taking a multidisciplinary approach and looking at the areas where these strange phenomena overlap.
“We’ve tried very hard over the last decade to not just stick to one genre of weird stuff,” Greg said. “So we hang out with alien abductees. We hang out with ghost hunters. We hang out with Bigfoot hunters. We’ve noticed there’s a lot of similarity between all of them.”
In ghost encounters, people often report lost time, seeing strange lights, getting tingling sensations — which are all things that some people who claim to have encountered Bigfoot also say they’ve experienced.
“The famous joke about Bigfoot is that he’s blurry in every photo,” Greg said. “Well, so are ghosts. They’ll find large swaths of Bigfoot tracks that can go for hundreds of yards and then suddenly disappear in the middle of a field. They can’t find a body. They can’t find any hair or scat. They can’t find anything conclusive.”
Courtesy of Disney
That doesn’t mean, though, that they’ll stop looking. So Greg and Dana packed up their car with some artifacts from their Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and Occult, like casts of Bigfoot footprints and “Bigfoot pheromones,” and headed to the woods to teach Dr. Ian Malcom himself how to search for a being that, if it’s real at all, is particularly adept at avoiding being found.
Where they went, of course, was Mount Shasta.
“Originally they were looking for a place with Bigfoot sightings in Southern California. And we were like, ‘Sorry to say, there’s not a whole lot of those down south,’” Greg Newkirk said. “We actually had to convince them to go up to Northern California, in Humboldt County, because that’s the birthplace of most of the modern Bigfoot legends.”
Bigfoot legends are so pervasive in Humboldt County that there’s even an “Intro to Bigfoot Studies” class at Humboldt State University, and the fabled creature has been accused of murdering people there.
But it turns out, that area of Northern California isn’t just famous for Bigfoot — it’s also where parts of “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” was filmed.
“They had us sitting in the woods on this fallen redwood tree,” Greg said. “We see some rustling in the distance and there’s a camera crew. And then we see this just tall tan creature, literally this mythical creature comes out of the woods.”
Courtesy of Disney
“[Jeff] walks up impeccably dressed, and he puts his fingers to his temples and he goes, ‘You, you’re Greg Newkirk and you, you’re Dana Newkirk,’” Greg continued. “I could barely talk because I was so entranced. And I even said to him, ‘You have to understand, this is about as incredible as us actually finding Bigfoot.’ He’s equally legendary.”
The Newkirks spent two days exploring the woods with Goldblum looking for Bigfoot, using techniques like knocking on trees — knocks in the woods are commonly reported with Bigfoot encounters — and using those pheromones, which the Newkirks say smell worse than you can possibly imagine.
“We gave him a real strong whiff,” Greg said, “and he almost fell over.”
According to the Newkirks, Goldblum maintained an open mind about Sasquatch, and all the other “weirdness,” as they call it, they threw his way.
“[Goldblum] had so many questions and he just was incredible,” Greg said. “We sat and shared ghost stories with him around a campfire. He held our haunted objects from the museum. He asked questions about them. He told us all of these stories about his life. He was unbelievable.”
“He has the best sense of humor,” Dana added, “and also weirdly humble and curious. It’s infectious. He has a very fun, ready-to-embrace-all-things attitude.”
Courtesy of Disney
While the Newkirks won’t reveal what happened in the episode, they did give some insight into how the actor reacted to their strange passion.
“I think what we found was why Bigfoot is important,” Greg said. “Things like Bigfoot teach us to maintain a curiosity about a world that is becoming increasingly more mundane. When we can get creative about it, when we can imagine monsters and we can chase monsters, it gets us out into the world that we feel like we know back and forth already.”
“And so I think he saw some of that in us and was like, ‘Oh, OK, I get this. This is, this is fun. This is valuable. We’re learning about ourselves,’” Dana said.
“I think Jeff felt the same way we did after the adventure,” Greg added. “He asked if he could be an honorary Newkirk. So we’ll take it. We’ll see if he’ll come for Thanksgiving.”
The Last Word: Jeff Goldblum on Achieving ‘Self-Trustfulness’ and Making Movie Scientists Cool
Jeff Goldblum logs onto Zoom exactly the way you’d hope: First, he’s just a voice (“I’m quite honored to do this interview,” he says), then he’s awkwardly charming (“Do I see myself at all? Oh, shit. … ‘Start video’”); then he smiles, and the conversation becomes delightful. “I am in my house in Los Angeles,” he says, sitting in front of a colorful mural of commedia dell’arte harlequins. “I’ve in been that same house for about 36 years now, up in the Hollywood Hills. Where are you?”
Goldblum has made a fruitful career out of being awkward and endearing. It’s what made the sarcastic magazine reporter character he played in The Big Chill likable, his anthropomorphic “Brundlefly” in The Fly desperately human, and his suave chaotician Dr. Ian Malcolm in the Jurassic Park movies so effortlessly cool. Outside of acting, his idiosyncrasies have helped him to become a welcome pitchman in TV commercials, a celebrated jazz pianist, and the subject of innumerable memes online. In his 69 years, Goldblum has lived many lives while maintaining his one unique perspective.
That singularly Goldblumian outlook serves as the beacon for his current TV series, The World According to Jeff Goldblum. On the show’s first season, which premiered on Disney+ in 2019, the actor indulged his interests in everything from RVs to coffee, ice cream to tattoos. And on the upcoming season, which launches Nov. 12, he explores monsters, fireworks, magic, and dance, among other topics.
Watching the show, it becomes clear that Goldblum’s insatiable thirst for knowledge, a hallmark of his lovably quirky characters, reflects his off-camera mindset. In an interview for Rolling Stone’s Last Word column, he explained how the show broadened his outlook and reflected on how he achieved his worldview in the first place.
Is The World According to Jeff Goldblum just an outgrowth of your natural curiosity?
Well, the show has inflamed my already substantial curiosity. I wind up going places that I wouldn’t ordinarily go. I was in the Sequoia National Forest climbing one of those trees, talking to forest scientists and experts, and I have always highly esteemed scientists anyway. My dad was a doctor, and now I’ve gotten a chance to play scientists, too.
What have been your favorite scientific discoveries on the show so far?
We did an episode on dogs. I had to hide in a cement pipe while this dog who works with first responders, firemen, and people who attend the scene after an earthquake or when a building has collapsed [searched for me]. And these dogs can go over a terrain better [than people] and with their noses they can find survivors. So I put myself in the position of a survivor in a kind of a concrete pipe, and this dog found me, and the firemen followed suit. It was very touching and emotional. There’s plenty to learn about animals.
You once said about Jurassic Park that your approach to Dr. Ian Malcolm was that “scientists are cool.” Have you always felt that way?
There were things in the Michael Crichton book that made that character interesting and smart and not a cliché of somebody who’s socially stunted. My experience with scientists with whom I’d come in contact — even the chaoticians that I talked to seemed cool and smart and were interesting to talk to. I’ve always found people who are passionately interested in something and contributing something to be very attractive and cool to the nth degree.
You kept a pet fly on the set of The Fly. What did you learn from watching it?
Geena [Davis] and I were rehearsing every day before we got to the set. As we got to the set, there was a fly in the trailer and either she or I caught it and put it in a plastic bag for a little bit. I’d never have called it a pet; I don’t think it ever became a pet, but I did look at it without trying to harm it. No animals or insects were hurt on this movie or in the actors’ preparatory period. But if you really stop and look [at a fly] for some period of time and see what it does and how it moves, which I had to incorporate in some way, I think I learned a thing or two about its stillness and herky-jerky movements and what its experience might be.
In 1985, you told an interviewer, “I’m not mainstream. I’m special.” How did you learn to embrace being quirky?
I was lucky enough to study with a great [acting] teacher, Sanford Meisner, who said, “You shouldn’t copy anybody. You should try to find your own voice. It may take you a long time to do that, and a lot of continual digging, but it’s worthwhile.”
And more and more, I aspire to more self-trustfulness. I’m nothing if not disciplined and conscientious. So I played piano today, as I do every day, and I tell you, I played better today than I ever had before. It’s sort of interesting to me to keep my eyes on my own paper and keep developing and working on what I love and what seems to bring my insides to full life.
What excites you about the piano, and how does it complement the rest of your artistic sensibilities?
Well, I just love it. It’s mysterious what really turns you on and gets your juices going. Music has always done that [for me], including jazz. And finding out what gets you going has something to do with acting, of course, or anything creative. You’re the authority, finally, about what does it for you.
What music still moves you the most?
[Composer Samuel Barber’s] “Adagio for Strings,” that lovely piece of music that has been used in movies. It’s the saddest and one of the most moving pieces of music. David Lynch uses it in The Elephant Man. Oh, God. It’s just heart wrenching and music does that to me.
I’ve seen On the Waterfront many times and, yes, Kazan’s direction is spectacular, and Brando just grabs you in like nobody else can. But I’ll tell you, even in the back-of-that-cab scene, it’s Leonard Bernstein’s score that moves me — and I think it’s the only movie he ever wrote a score for. The themes in that just grab my insides and do something. It can mysteriously just hurt your heart immediately and inspire something. … And I was just looking at Vertigo again and the music is by Bernard Herrmann, who did Taxi Driver and Psycho and many of those Hitchcock movies. But Vertigo, especially, my God, that movie wouldn’t be the same without that score.
I listen to jazz and my bandmates turn me on to the stuff I should have known about for all these years anyway, so I’m catching up with Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, and many people. And I’m crazy about it; I love it.
When you were making your breakthrough film, The Big Chill, the cast would get together and have dance parties that weren’t even for the movie. What’s the secret to that kind of bonding on a set?
Well, it’s a sort of a miracle when it happens. On that movie, [director] Larry Kasdan set us up for it. He was all about these people being friends for years before in the backstory and had actors had who’d never met each other. So he wanted us to rehearse for four weeks together and then live all together in this sort of isolated place in Buford, South Carolina. And sure enough, his methods worked, and we just had a great time. [Kasdan’s] wife, Meg, had chosen the music that was going to be in the film, and they had that tape going on the set all the time in rehearsal. So we were, sure enough, dancing. We connected thanks to all of that.
That’s the way it’s always been for me with acting pals: You get together, like the circus, with people who were roaming and only have a fleeting brush with each other, but it demands that you are intimate in the deepest and most spiritual way and have an interesting and passionate experience that may mean something to somebody else if it’s witnessed and filmed.
You’re known for asking the crews you work with to wear name tags. Why is it important for you to have a connection with everyone on set?
I like to get the call sheet with all the crew members on it and get a little bit interested in them and learn their names. I go over it as if I’m going over my lines. It makes me feel better. Robert Altman and Wes Anderson, who works in a similar way, would say that besides the resultant movie that we make, the important thing that we were doing [on a set] is having a kind of art experience by being together.
I don’t think the actor is necessarily any more important to part of the democratic community than any other person. I feel strongly that actors certainly are not entitled to act in a childish or discourteous way toward anybody any more than the dolly grip would.
What’s the most indulgent purchase you’ve ever made?
The other day I took my six-year-old, Charlie, to his piano lesson on Ventura Boulevard and next door to it was a caviar store. While Charlie was in the lesson, [my other son] River started to wander around and he said, “Hey, let’s go in there.” He’s only four and the guy working there said, “We only have three kinds of caviar right now. We’ll give you a sample of all of them.” I said, “Sure,” and so he gave me and River a sample and then I figured, I don’t like to be the kind of person who samples anything without buying — I don’t know why, I think it’s not nice. So I said, “OK, yeah, we’ll take a tin. Give me that middle line.” It was a little more than I’ve spent for food usually. So that’s indulgent.
You’re 6’4″. What should people know about the very tall?
I guess 6’4″ feels like the perfect height for me. I wouldn’t want anything else. It was nice being tall when I grew up in high school and had to hold my own in a difficult society. It was nice getting taller, because taller meant, “Watch out. I can take care of myself. I’m big.” That’s been fine and dandy.
I’m working on a part now that requires me walking on stilts. So I’m not too tall that I don’t have a part that the director has said, “You know what you need for this part? To be about a foot taller. You need stilts.” About an hour ago, I did my stilt practicing today. So I’ve been walking around on stilts.
As your career has gone on, more people have considered you a sex symbol. Is that ever a burden?
I don’t know that I am, but it’s never been burdensome. I’m as vain as the next fella. It’s nice to feel that there’s some interest. What can I say? I’m blushing.
Jeff Goldblum Says He Has An Active Creative Collaboration With Taika Waititi
Thanks to a supporting role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Thor: Ragnarok‘s Grandmaster, his own docuseries that’s proven popular enough on Disney Plus to get a second season, and his bookending cameos in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom being followed by a full-blown supporting role in next summer’s Dominion, Jeff Goldblum is riding the crest of a wave at the moment.
Not that the actor and beloved eccentric has ever fallen on hard times having been working almost constantly since making his screen debut in 1974, but his levels of popularity have reached new heights due his neurotically wholesome persona and general chaotically endearing vibes.
Goldblum will be returning to the MCU in Thor: Love and Thunder, and he revealed in a new interview with the I’m So Obsessed podcast that he has an active creative collaboration with writer and director Taika Waititi.
“I can’t divulge something about this either. But Taika Waititi, I’ve been in touch with him recently. And we have an active creative collaboration. And that melt stick — working with him is just the greatest. He’s a comic force of nature and a deeply good and soulful, heart-possessed artist. I love the Grandmaster and fooling around coming up with that.”
Marvel Fans Discover Another Taika Waititi Cameo In Thor: Ragnarok 1 of 2
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Does that mean we can expect to see Goldblum in Waititi’s in-development Star Wars blockbuster? We certainly hope so, because more Goldblum is never a bad thing. The pair clearly get on like a house on fire, and with the Academy Award-winning filmmaker’s schedule continuing to add more and more projects, there’s every chance they’ll be reunited sooner rather than later.
Jeff Goldblum appears on the Today show after Richard Wilkins awkwardly reported he was DEAD
He famously reported on the Today show that Jeff Goldblum had died live on-air back in 2009.
Now presenter Richard Wilkins has come face-to-face with the Hollywood star on the same program 12 years later.
Richard, 67, and the Jurassic Park star, 69, spoke on Friday about season two of Jeff’s Disney Plus docuseries’, The World According to Jeff Goldblum.
Coincidental encounter: On Friday, Jeff Goldblum appeared on the Today show with Richard Wilkins who awkwardly reported the Hollywood star was DEAD live on the same program 12 years ago
‘How are you sir? That’s the question. You look fantastic,’ Jeff said to Richard at the opening of their Zoom call.
‘Those famous specs of yours need a correction I would’ve thought,’ the Today presenter joked in response.
Jeff continued complimenting Richard’s appearance and stated he looks ‘as manly and as spectacular as ever’ with his open shirt and the recorded blue sky behind him.
Friendly banter: The conversation started with Jeff complimenting Richard’s appearance before the TV presenter joked to the Hollywood star that he should have his ‘famous specs corrected’
The pair discussed season two of Jeff’s Disney Plus show, which sees the actor ’exploring the world’ and covering a variety of random topics that are usually used or consumed.
The first season featured topics such as sneakers, video games, ice cream, coffee, bikes and cosmetics.
Richard then commented on Jeff’s innate curious nature about the world.
New: The pair discussed season two of Jeff’s Disney Plus show, The World According to Jeff Goldblum, which sees the actor ’exploring the world’ and covering a variety of topics
‘The most curious man in the world, how does that title resonate with you?’ Richard asked.
‘I like being interested and I like this show,’ the Independence Day actor replied. ‘It makes use of my natural curiosities and fascination with the wonders of our world.’
Jeff then listed some of the topics he’d cover in the upcoming season including dance, dogs, monsters, magic and fireworks.
What’s ahead: The Jurassic Park star said the new season of his show will look at dance, dogs, monsters, magic and fireworks. It comes after Richard referred to the actor’s title of the ‘most curious man in the world’
The pair did not talk about the awkward moment when Richard famously declared that the actor had died following a fall from a cliff in New Zealand in 2009.
At the time, Richard reported that New Zealand police ‘were saying Jeff Goldblum fell from a cliff to his death while filming in New Zealand’.
The 2009 ‘death’ report was actually a prank being circulated online in the immediate aftermath of pop singer Michael Jackson’s death.
Whoops: Richard wrongly reported that Jeff had fallen off a cliff and died in New Zealand back in 2009
In 2016, Jeff granted Richard an interview and laughed the incident off.
Richard began: ‘Sir, it’s great to have you in the country, lovely to see you back on your feet,’ before adding: ‘Er, sorry about that!’
Jeff replied: ‘Think nothing of it, totally understandable. Could happen to the best of them - which you are’, prompting Richard and co-hosts Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson to burst into laughter.
John Waters Joins Jeff Goldblum, Alia Shawkat On ‘Search Party’, First Look Photos!
Actress Alia Shawkat is known for her role as Maeby Fünke in Arrested Development and as Dory in the HBO Max Original comedy series Search Party. She plays a young woman who enters “a very public business partnership with charismatic tech billionaire Tunnel Quinn (Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park, The Fly) on the other side of her near-death experience.”
Search Party, Season 5 (Jon Pack/HBO Max)
Jeff Goldblum on Search Party (Jon Pack/HBO Max)
The fifth and final season of Search Party will be released and available to binge on Friday, January 7. Until then, feast your eyes on these first look photos, above and below.
John Waters on Search Party (Jon Pack/HBO Max)
And yes, that’s the legendary filmmaker John Waters (Hairspray, Cry-Baby, Pecker) in the window-pane suit.