If the ouch is living in you, let it out,” implores Jeff Goldblum. ”No matter how difficult, no matter how much of a struggle, if you have an ouch inside you — an organic ouch — let it out!” Goldblum is offering this helpful tip inside Playhouse West, an acting school in North Hollywood where he teaches an improvisation class every Friday afternoon. As he struts and frets upon its dinky stage, waxing energetic on the Ouch Method, 20 young thespians-to-be follow him with big, awestruck eyes. Over the next three hours, he’ll teach them how to express the ouch through dramatic experience, how to contextualize and particularize the ouch, how to tell the difference between an organic ouch and a big fat phony one.
”What we’re really doing here,” he tells the class, ”is learning how to live truthfully through imaginary circumstances. That’s what acting is all about.”
Of course, living truthfully isn’t exactly a snap when your imaginary circumstances are filled with seven-ton prehistoric carnivores who’ve never studied the Meisner technique — but then, that’s what makes Goldblum a star. Endearingly quirky, sexily neurotic, with a semiautomatic delivery that makes every line of dialogue sound like it’s been fired from a jammed Uzi, Goldblum, 44, manages to turn even his straightest parts into off-kilter acting adventures. In The Lost World, Steven Spielberg’s $80 million sequel to Jurassic Park, opening May 23, he reprises his role as Dr. Ian Malcolm, the slightly chaotic chaos-theory expert who once again finds himself potential snack food for a pack of Jeep-stomping T. rexes. Turns out there’s another dino-infested island — Site B, which somehow got overlooked in the first film — and two rival human groups are claiming dibs. The bad guys, led by Arliss Howard (To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar), want to trap and exploit the dinosaurs. The good guys — Goldblum, along with Julianne Moore (Nine Months) and Vince Vaughn (Swingers) — want to protect and study them.
Goldblum says the sequel is ”darker” than the first, with ”more danger and more bad stuff for human beings” — and reports from an early screening indicate a high body count for a PG-13 film, as well as some brutal surprises (even the dog gets it). But it’ll probably be similar in at least one respect: Like its predecessor, Lost World should rake in behemoth bucks. The original is the highest-grossing film in history, having earned more than $900 million worldwide since 1993. The only film to come close was 1996’s Independence Day — which, curiously enough, also starred Goldblum. Even a brontosaurus could see where this is heading: If Lost World fulfills its hype as the most ferociously anticipated film of the summer, Goldblum will have pulled off a hat trick not even Luke Skywalker could manage, headlining in the three biggest hits of all time.
Hard to find the ouch in that.
I remember going to my first Event Movie,” Goldblum recalls. ”I must have been about 11 years old. It was at this beautiful old movie palace outside of Pittsburgh, in West Homestead, where I grew up. And all three balconies were packed. Kids were screaming. Popcorn boxes were flying. You couldn’t hear a thing. It was a semi-riot. I still dream about it.”