Sometimes Hollywood screenwriters are so preoccupied with whether or not they could do something, they didn’t stop to think if they should. Such was apparently the case during pre-production of the original Jurassic Park, when the film’s best character was almost written out of the script entirely.
Such is the news we recently learned from Ian Malcolm himself, Jeff Goldblum, during a new video interview with Vanity Fair in which the actor and ongoing cabaret show star reminisces about several of his most iconic roles. In addition to delightful re-enactments of beats from Independence Day and confirming that Wes Anderson’s everyday life is just as fey and dreamlike as his films, Goldblum revealed the surprising tidbit that the writers and producers of Jurassic Park almost cut the character of the rock-star mathematician out of the movie altogether:
I read that Michael Crichton book—Ian Malcolm, wow! Smart, funny, interesting character. [Spielberg] was so nice… but he said, ‘You know, there’s a sort of movement afoot with our little committee here...to have that part removed from the script. So since we’ve had this meeting, there’s this little wrinkle that may render this moot.’ I kind of said, ‘Well, gee!’ I felt moved to advocate for my inclusion.”
Goldblum explains that the creative team considered simply combining the character of Malcolm with Sam Neill’s straight-arrow, more uptight paleontologist. “I said, ‘What do I know about storytelling, but, I gotta tell ya,’” Goldblum reportedly said to Spielberg, urging him to reconsider. “I said, ‘No no no, you’ve gotta keep that character...’ [Shrugs.] I dunno, whatever I said. But it turned out, I got to be in it.”
Indeed, even trying to imagine Jurassic Park without Ian Malcolm is like picturing Rocky without Mickey the trainer, or Pretty In Pink without Duckie, or Turner & Hooch without Hooch. (It’s not a perfect comparison, but you get the idea.) Goldblum also ends the interview by talking about how he’s still trying to learn acting, and “I think I’m on the threshold of my better stuff,” as he puts it. If that’s not a promise of something to look forward to, then you may as well write the fly out of The Fly.