Jeff Goldblum’s Disney+ Docuseries Looks at Motorcycles

·11 min read
Photo credit: NatGeo/Disney+
Photo credit: NatGeo/Disney+

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Jeff Goldblum is the science teacher you wish you had in high school, the tour guide you wish you had at the museum of science and industry, and the next-door neighbor you wish you had who is always throwing fabulous dinner parties full of interesting people and he invites you along. He is exactly the guys he portrays in the movies, from Earth Girls Are Easy to Jurrasic Park (“Taking dinosaurs off this island is the worst idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas.”) For the last two seasons he has taken that quirky cool character of his and brought you along with him as he examines almost everything on The World According to Jeff Goldblum, available now on Disney+.

“Are you like me, Jeff Goldblum? Maybe we share an interest in monsters, fireworks, magic, dogs…” Goldblum says in the trailer to the show.

He covers all those topics and more in the two seasons so far. He has not done an episode on cars yet, but he did do one on motorcycles, which is going to debut January 19 and is why he called us. Yes, Hollywood megastar Jeff Goldblum called to publicize his show. And not surprisingly, he seemed more interested in me than the other way around. We may or may not have convinced him to do a segment on cars and he may or may not have recruited me to help out on it. You never know exactly what's happening in Hollywood. The motorcycle segment will be available in January on Disney+. Keep a flying eyeball peeled for it.

Photo credit: NatGeo/Disney+
Photo credit: NatGeo/Disney+

Autoweek: Nice of you to take some time to talk to the car world here through Autoweek.

Jeff Goldblum: Thank you so much for doing this.

AW: Yeah, though I must say I'm a bit disappointed. If you had done your segment, instead of doing it on motorcycles, if you'd done it on cars instead, that would have made my job a little bit easier.

JG: You like cars? What kind of car do you have? What's your favorite kind of car?

AW: Oh, you know, supercars are always fun. McLarens, Ferraris, those actually perform as advertised.

JG: If you were going to art-direct me in a car what's the most fun car to have? What should I get? What would be the most fun car for me?

AW: It depends what you want to do with it. If you want to go fast and scare yourself to death, you know, get a McLaren.

JG: We've got a couple of these electric cars now. We haven't been to a gas station in a few years.

AW: We all assume that movie stars have fabulous cars. What cars do you have?

JG: Right now? My wife, mostly, although I drive it sometimes because it's good for the kids, they've got a big kind of Tesla, with those gullwing doors. And then on my side of the garage, which is a little smaller. I have an electric BMW. What is it?

AW: An i3?

JG: An i3. Yeah. That's kind of nice, it's zippy and just big enough for me. I've always hankered for a fun color or a fun-looking design, but I never seem to break down and get stuff that's fun. This is fine and I think it's right for the environment, I'm enjoying it, but you know, my eyes always pop open for a fun car.

Photo credit: NatGeo/Disney+
Photo credit: NatGeo/Disney+

AW: Having done a segment on motorcycles now, are you thinking about getting a motorcycle?

JG: Well, let me see. I don't know if I ever owned one. The studio lent me one for those couple of times I did movies. I did Nashville way back in 1973, '74. And so I took lessons because I'd never been on a motorcycle before then, except with my cousin once when I was 12 or something, riding around the block. That seemed exciting. But for this movie, I was very motivated. I took lessons. I was living in Manhattan, and had a teacher and we drove around the streets of Manhattan. I was doing pretty well. Then I took a test (New York State Driver's License written permit test and road test). And the results came back once I went to Nashville. And it turned out I failed. I don't know if you know that movie, I at the end of the episode I drive one of those three-wheel things, which I also didn't know how to drive. So I had to learn how to do that down there. And then had a blast doing that. There was another movie that I had to drive a motorcycle for. But no, I don't have one now. Do you? Are you into motorcycles too? Do you like motorcycles?

AW: Well, as a matter of fact, I'm calling you from the Progressive IMS Motorcycle Show down here in Orange County. It goes all weekend.

JG: Oh my God, really?

AW: Yeah, you could come down here and see every motorcycle made. It's a lot of fun.

JG: What do you think? What has your eye fallen on?

AW: You being an electric car guy, you might have an interest in some of the electric bikes. They're fun, they're easy to ride. It's a blast.

JG: Good! And they're cute looking? There's some designs that are snazzy?

AW: Oh, yeah, BMW just introduced an electric scooter (the CE 04) and the guy told me it looks like what the future was imagined to be in the 1980s.

JG: Wow, hey, that sounds right up my alley. Yeah, I should look at something like that.

Photo credit: NatGeo/Disney+
Photo credit: NatGeo/Disney+

AW: In the motorcycle segment of your documentary you got out on the dirt and rode. How would you describe your experience riding in that segment?

JG: Those two women (Ashmore Ellis and Anya Violet of Babes Ride Out, instructors in the documentary) were wonderful. I enjoyed being with them. I like being taught by them. And basically what I did was go around a few times and just get up and running a little bit and kind of remind myself, because I hadn’t ridden for a long time, I had to kind of remember a little bit. But you know, it was fun. They're kind of really fun to ride, aren't they?

AW: They have motorcycles now that have automatic transmissions.

JG: No kidding. What do you think about those?

AW: They're so much easier to ride.

JG: Really? How much are they?

AW: Oh, they're just like the cost of any motorcycle, between, say 15 grand, maybe 20. Honda makes some and there are a couple other bikes. It's like I'm selling you on motorcycles here.

JG: Sounds interesting. I'd like to check them out.

AW: There is such a wide array of topics on your series, The World According to Jeff Goldblum. Who picks the topics? Do you have input in that?

JG: It's a collaboration. They're so smart, the people from Nutopia, the production company. (He names them all.) They're so smart and collaborative and sweet. They come up with a list, and then we get to talking and they hear what curiosities and passions I may have and past associations with some of these things. And then they start to suggest a theme that strings them together, these things that people love, that are familiar, that we may not know some secrets about and some extraordinary aspects of it.

AW: And when you get to start shooting, I assume you have a script already?

JG: I'll tell you from the time we started develop the show, we sort of threw out this idea of really not having anything scripted. I said, ‘I don't want to really read a teleprompter.’ I could do something where I kind of talk as I think, I think out loud here and there. And I trust you and your editing and you'll separate the wheat from the chaff and make me look coherent and, and good. So that's kind of what we do. Then I sort of learned what I need to but no more. And we sort of build in surprises for me. They like to surprise me and I like to get surprised and then just react and then just film as I'm doing it. I don't meet the people really until they've turned on the camera. And everything is kind of as it's happening authentically that you see. And that's kind of what I enjoyed most about it.

AW: If you were to do a show about cars, that's such a broad-ranging subject, how would you approach that subject?

JG: Oh, you probably know better than I do. I'd ask you, do you think we should do it? But wow, cars? Well, of course, I imagine we get into the whole interesting history of cars. That river has so many tributaries, doesn't it? I mean, you know, American cars and foreign cars. I don't know all that much about it. I gave them all my home movies and photo albums from when I was (growing up) in Pittsburgh. And I remember a couple of cars we had. Ford station wagons. And then there was one year this was the mid-'60s, late-'60s, where they went for a Mustang. I remember being very excited about that Mustang. And, was it a convertible? It might have been a convertible. That seemed wild for our family. And I really loved that. Then they got a Lincoln. My dad was a doctor. And then I didn't even own a car. You know, when I was first going to New York I went on the subway and this and that. And then I got cars when I came out to California in the mid-'70s. And there was this place called Bundy Rent-A-Wreck. I think I had an Oldsmobile that was always breaking down. And then I started to get cars of my own. And I started talking about my own history with it. And then jeez, we would, I'm sure we'd get into the new aspect of electric cars and the environment and everything. What do you think?

AW: Let's go! I just greenlighted it. I give you the green light, as they say… You could also do a thing where they put you in the passenger seat of a race car and go around the track really fast. I think you would find that fascinating.

JG: Well, believe it or not, if you look it up, I did an episode of Top Gear. And so they put me in competition with Tom Cruise. And a couple other people. You do it separately. But the day I showed up, they gave me some quick lessons. And I raced it around. It was fun.

AW: Do you remember where you finished? They used to calibrate everybody's time and post it on that pole where they keep everybody's lap time.

JG: I didn't finish dead last, but I didn't do so well. I was not near the top because in the short time that I had, I think Tom Cruise came a couple of days before and he prepared himself very well, as you can imagine. Me, I just showed up and they took me around and then the (car) I had broke or something they said, ‘Okay, here's the one you should drive, drive this.’ And it's got a bunch of gears, you don't really have to get out of third gear or something like that. So I did it. I was still putting the pedal to the floor. I wasn't last but it was fast enough for me, I'll tell you that. It was pretty exciting.

AW: Well, thanks so much for your time, Jeff. They sent me some episodes and I enjoyed watching all of them. Enjoy your fascination with the world around you.

JG: I certainly will. You, too, you too. I've got the five (episodes of season 2) are out now, and the motorcycles and four other episodes are gonna come out in January. So there are 10 episodes in the second season.

AW: Okay, good. Look forward to seeing them.

Check out the motorcycle episode of The World According to Jeff Goldblum starting January 19, and then catch up with the rest of the show on Disney+.