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SYFY WIRE Jeff Goldblum

Watch Jeff Goldblum try to explain why he had to open his shirt for iconic 'Jurassic Park' scene

Watch the Jurassic Park star try to recall why that famous shirtless moment happened.

By Matthew Jackson
Jeff Goldblum and Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show

The original Jurassic Park film is full of iconic, Steven Spielberg-engineered moments of pure awe. It's been almost 30 years, and fans of the blockbuster can still instantly recall their favorite visuals from the movie, whether they're talking about the water rippling in the cups to signal the arrival of the T. Rex, the first time Dr. Grant sees living dinosaurs, the kitchen raptor attack...or, of course, that time Jeff Goldblum opens his shirt.

Yes, despite dozens of legendary shots featuring dinosaurs appearing in ways they'd never been seen onscreen before, many fans still think of a bare-chested Dr. Ian Malcolm reclining on a table as one of Jurassic Park's most iconic visuals. It's a shot that's inspired memes, toys, and even tattoos, but how it actually came about remains something of a mystery, even to Goldblum himself. 

"It wasn't in the script," Goldblum told Vanity Fair earlier this year. "It had nothing to do with my character, it had nothing to do with the movie! I don't know, it just happened somehow."

Goldblum's been making the promotional rounds again over the last couple of weeks to hype another dinosaur-centric movie, Jurassic World Dominion, which reunites his character with Sam Neill's Alan Grant and Laura Dern's Ellie Sattler for one last round of Jurassic fun. Naturally, that means the legendary Dr. Malcolm shirtless scene has come up again, several times, which means Goldblum's had the opportunity to think a little more about what exactly was going on there. 

On The Tonight Show this week, host Jimmy Fallon brought the scene up again by showing off yet another new toy featuring Dr. Malcolm's famous pose, leaving Goldblum to attempt to explain how the scene came about. According to Goldblum, he can't remember if opening the shirt was his idea or Spielberg's, but in speaking with Dern on the Dominion promotional tour, he thinks he's actually come up with new reasoning. Malcolm is reclining because he injured his leg during the T. Rex encounter earlier in the film, but his shirt is open because of another, unseen upper body injury. 

"My leg of course had some difficulty," Goldblum said. "I think I had an injury that is not depicted [on the toy], but in the movie, whether you see it below the screen or not, there's something going on there. If you can get some evidence for that, that'll be my story."

In the video below, beginning at about 9:55, you can see the whole discussion. In an effort to provide evidence, Fallon pulls up a still from the film, and Goldblum points out that there are flecks of blood on Malcolm's chest, hinting at some other unseen injury that's perhaps somewhere in the waist area. 

Looking at the entire chronology of events leading up to the open-shirt moment in Jurassic Park, Goldblum's story is at least plausible, if not definitively proven. Malcolm's black shirt is already sort-of open just as a style choice, and looks to still be that way when he falls in the collapsing bathroom hut during the T. Rex attack. Minutes later, when Sattler finds him in the debris, his shirt is still mostly tucked in, but is unbuttoned all the way to the waist, which could have happened in the fall or as he struggled to move around. By the time he gets back to safety, it's simply open all the way, both because it works visually and because Malcolm probably was less concerned about his clothes at that point in the story. 

However it happened, no one is likely to forget the shot, or stop immortalizing it, anytime soon. 

Jurassic World Dominion is in theaters now.