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Ranking Jeff Goldblum's most memorable genre appearances

Contributed by
Oct 23, 2018

National treasure Jeffrey Lynn Goldblum just celebrated his 65th birthday on October 22, and thus we at SYFY FANGRRLS have dedicated the entire month to the celebration of our favorite moments, movies, outfits, and noises from this absolute zaddy of a man. (And if you don't know what "zaddy" means, Google it, because Jeff Goldblum already knows.)

While we've taken advantage of such long-standing FANGRRLS franchises as Deja View and Chosen One of the Day to celebrate Goldblum genre characters great and small, we also thought it was about time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and create the definitive ranking of the man's most memorable roles in sci-fi, fantasy, and horror.

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Hideaway

When your adaptation of a horror novel is so bad that even the author themselves tries to force the studio to remove their name from the credits, not even the majesty that is Jeff Goldblum can save you. 1995's Hideaway, in which Goldblum plays a man who begins receiving visions of a serial killer after having a near-death experience, is technically genre, but only in the very loose, very '90s sense of the word. Hatch Harrison may be a man's man who enjoys grilling by the lake, wearing buttery leather jackets, and seeing the face of God while banging his wife, but he's one of the least memorable Jeff Goldblum genre characters (of which there are so, so many more).

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Mister Frost

You might not remember the film in which Goldblum plays actual, literal Satan. But we at FANGRRLS do, and we recently revisited Mister Frost in all its amazing, long-haired glory. There are a few factors, but not many, that elevate this film above its lesser supernatural cousin — namely, the mullet-that-isn't-quite-a-mullet that Goldblum rocked for much of his film appearances in the mid-'90s. Any man who can pull off a style like this deserves to be acknowledged; any man who can play the actual Devil infused with the trademark Goldblum brand of sexually-infused magnetism is a character worth recognizing.

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Transylvania 6-5000

Real talk: there's a lot about this movie that has not aged well. What remains a delight, for the most part, is Goldblum as tabloid reporter Jack Harrison, who ventures out to modern-day Transylvania with fellow reporter (and I'm assuming occasional boyfriend) Gil Turner (Ed Begley Jr.). Goldblum's oversized suit jackets are a thing to behold in this film, which is good because it usually distracts you from the poorly aged humor and whatever Michael Richards is doing the entire time. 

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Hotel Artemis

In this year's Hotel Artemis, Goldblum makes a late-in-the-game appearance as a mob boss referred to as "the Wolf King," and if that wasn't enough to grab your attention he also wears full suits paired with dress sandals. In fact, I'm half-convinced that Goldblum showed up to shoot this movie wearing his own clothes and was basically permitted to make his own creative choices. The only reason this appearance isn't higher on the list is because it's basically a glorified cameo, but if there's one actor who could infuse even the smallest part with the most memorable joie de vivre, it's our boy Jeffy-Jeff Goldblum.

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Earth Girls Are Easy

This flick pulls very important double duty by not only giving us Goldblum in furry blue alien makeup but a Goldblum at what was unquestionably the height of his young prime. (To clarify: right now, he has most definitely achieved his mature prime, as evidenced by his whole current silver fox situation.) Earth Girls Are Easy is a veritably strange movie, but what it offers definitely trumps all of the bizarre — like Goldblum's alien Mac literally giving Geena Davis' Val a rainbow-infused orgasm (after giving one to her cat first via a mere touch, because of course he does). And they live happily ever after! It's the true predecessor to all that sci-fi alien romance that's just so popular with the millennials these days.

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers

One of Goldblum's earliest roles, as well as his earliest well-known genre role. The only downside to Invasion of the Body Snatchers' Jack Bellicec is that he doesn't play as much of a part in the overall story as, say, Donald Screaming Sutherland, but watching Goldblum's performance now it's easy to spot the predecessors to what would become some of his most recognizable acting choices — from his distinguishable cadence to his occasional stammer — and given that it's Body Snatchers that positions him across from such sci-fi greats as Leonard Nimoy in some of the film's most tense scenes, it's definitely earned its placement here. Plus: trenchcoat.

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Thor: Ragnarok

We'd anxiously waited for the day that the MCU would finally wake up and realize the one presence it was truly missing, and that day came last year with Thor: Ragnarok. Although Goldblum's Grandmaster was originally intended to be blue from head-to-toe, director Taika Waititi scrapped that idea after realizing it would be too similar to previously tread ground in Earth Girls Are Easy. The result was a wonderfully subtle stripe of blue along his chin and a similarly subtle, albeit brilliant performance. As the Grandmaster, Goldblum infuses just the right amount of weirdness into the character, paired with an underlying current of menace that serves to remind the audience that he is, in spite of initial appearances, a Bad Guy. It's an understated role that's doing more than it often gets credit for.

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Independence Day

When you try to picture the individuals who could save the world from an alien invasion, the faces that come to mind probably aren't those of a Marine pilot and a tech expert from MIT. Yet since 1996's Independence Day was released, effectively solidifying Goldblum as a genre star with the backing power of high box office returns to boot, one doesn't have to dwell long to recall that final scene in which Goldblum, along with his co-star Will Smith, enjoy a couple of cigars while striding across the Nevada desert as the invading alien ship explodes overhead. Although its sequel, Resurgence, wasn't nearly as well-received, we'll always have the original — and the vision that is Goldblum's David Levinson in all of his puka-wearing splendor.

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The Fly

1987's The Fly marks not only the second of three films Goldblum starred in with then-wife Geena Davis (the other two being Transylvania 6-5000 and Earth Girls Are Easy), but it also showcases Goldblum in an arena that genre audiences had never really seen him tackle before: body horror. As Seth Brundle, Goldblum experiences the disturbing and oft-times disgusting metamorphosis into a hybrid creature when his DNA accidentally merges with that of a fly's. Although technically a remake of a 1958 film, director David Cronenberg's version of The Fly is as tragic as it is gruesome, and that's in large part due to Goldblum's excellence in the lead role, as Seth approaches his transformation into Brundlefly with equal parts fascination and terror.

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Jurassic Park

Come on. You didn't think any other Goldblum role was going to inhabit the number one spot, did you? Only 1994's Jurassic Park gave us a glistening, panting, lounging Dr. Ian Malcolm who, even after suffering a severe leg injury after being pursued by a T-rex, still managed to serve utter LEWKS with his shirt conveniently unbuttoned in the process. Only Jurassic Park gave us the iconic laugh that should, frankly, have its own exhibit in the Louvre. Only Jurassic Park gave us the frequently quoted sentiment that life, uh, finds a way. When considering all of Goldblum's genre roles over the years, only one has been memed over and over again, rendered timeless thanks to a beautiful, beautiful chaos theorist with a penchant for black leather and a smile that don't quit. 

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