Believe it or not, there was a time when the term “geek” was pretty much meant as an insult. Of course, now folks celebrate their “geekdom” or “geek out” at their favorite subculture interests, no matter how nerdy. That word used to be an insult, too. That was all before celebrities such as Jeff Goldblum embraced the ethos and turned it into a badge of honor. For his contributions to uplifting geek culture, Jeff Goldblum is a 2023 inductee in the Pop Culture Hall of Fame as an Actor.
His earliest roles cast him as a nerdy professor type (The Big Chill, The Player, and others). But in 1986, he made the leap to sci-fi staple with his role as a nerdy mad scientist in The Fly, the gory, over-the-top, fun David Cronenberg horror film. Folks started to notice his handsome, earnest persona in that movie, although he would morph into a disgusting creature towards the end of it.
A few years later he would have a pivotal role in Jurassic Park, as a ‘told you so” scientist who just happened to look oh so sexy slightly beat up, with his shirt unbuttoned. Seriously, this was a major turning point in his career. What can you say, he’s a natural at the professor/scientist thing.
Next, he got to star in Independence Day as another geeky, sexy scientist type here to save the day with a little intelligence, a bit of pedantry, and some ass-kicking as well. The cinematic world couldn’t get enough of him after that. Throw in his appeal as a jazz musician and a commercial spokesperson, and he is inescapable. Which no one seems to mind.
His off the cuff sounding vocal delivery gives him an air of sincerity that serves him well as a a commercial spokesman. When he told you why you should buy a Mac, you believed him. The fact that he used it to save the day in Independence Day helped, too.
Of course, he has made his way into the Marvel universe as the Grandmaster in Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy. And to keep a highbrow image intact, he is now a regular in the films of Wes Anderson including Grand Budapest Hotel and Asteroid City. He does a lot of voice work for cartoons too. Seriously, listen to him… you would be entertained hearing him read the phone book.
The idea of Jeff Goldblum as “cool” seemed impossible at the beginning of his career. His hard work to make geeky the new sexy is the reason he is now a member of the Pop Culture Hall of Fame for 2023.