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Jeff Goldblum is in Wes Anderson's Asteroid City? Who Does He Play?

Jeff Goldblum, a Wes Anderson repertory player in his films, does a cameo in Asteroid City.

By Tara Bennett
Jeff Goldblum GETTY

Bless, Jeff Goldblum. The actor, musician and all around bon vivant always brings his eclectic style and line readings to every role he inhabits, so it's no surprise that director Wes Anderson consistently gives the man a "five Goldblums out of five Goldblums" rating, as he continues to cast him. Their first collab was The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which they followed up with The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs and now Asteroid City. 

Anderson's Asteroid City, is essentially a play that's being realized in the movie. Whether what we're seeing is a projection of what the actors are "seeing" in their minds as they play their roles, or the intentions of the playwright (Ed Norton) is left to the audience to decide. But there are two distinct halves to the whole presentation: the black and white world of the playwright and his players, and the color world of the story playing out. 

How does Jeff Goldblum fit into all of this? Well, he technically plays two roles in the film, but we really only see him at his Goldblum-iest in the final minutes.

A diorama at the Asteroid City Pop-Up in Los Angeles

Who does Jeff Goldblum Play in Asteroid City?

He plays the alien.

In the color portion of the film during the Asteroid Day celebration and the Junior Stargazer's honoree ceremony, the whole hootenanny is interrupted when a glass UFO arrives. As the humans look up in shock, a rather skinny alien dressed in black descends into the crater and "yoinks" away the piece of meteor the scientists have long kept in a wire cage.

For the production, Anderson used puppetry to bring the reticent, silent alien to life. Later on in another color portion of the film, the alien returns to the crater and puts the meteor back where he found it then flies away. The two scenes are technically what make this Anderson's first sci-fi movie. But if you interpret the color sequences as the high-end version of the play being produced for television, then you'll have to rethink the "aliens" of it all when a black and white scene towards the end reveals none other than Jeff Goldblum in the very same black alien costume, sans mask, in the makeup chair behind the scenes at the theater where it's being produced. The "blink or you'll miss it" cameo infers that good 'ole Jeff has been cast to play that sinewy alien for the color sequences. Since the visiting alien never speaks, it's basically a very funny inside joke that earns a solid laugh in the waning minutes of Asteroid City

If you're disappointed in not getting more Goldblum alien screen time, then we highly recommend you catch his long ago performances in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and his very funny alien performance as Mac in 1988's Earth Girls Are Easy. Until then, let's hope some other brilliant director sees the benefits of "Goldblum and alien" being used together in a sentence while writing or casting their next project. 

Get your sci-fi film fix with Asteroid City now in wide release or check out some of these flicks on Peacock!