He's one of Hollywood's most recognizable actors (on an episode of "Will and Grace," his character was described as "a tall, sexy whooping crane"), and for the first time in almost 27 years, Jeff Goldblum is getting ready to star in a prime-time network series. "Raines," created by Graham Yost ("Boomtown"), is the story of an LAPD detective who, um…well, to put it succinctly, he solves murders by using hallucinations of the victims as a sounding board for his theories. (We've seen the pilot, and it plays out as a pretty cool premise, with Goldblum at his deadpan comedic best.) Bullz-Eye had an opportunity to sit in on a teleconference with Goldblum and Yost, where we quizzed them about the show, how it should be promoted, and if there's even a dividing line anymore between "movie actors" and "TV actors."
Bullz-Eye: Hi, guys.
Jeff Goldblum: Hi, William.
Graham Yost: Hi, William.
BE: Jeff, good to have you back on the small screen.
JG: It's so nice. Thanks.
BE: This is your first regular series gig since "Tenspeed and Brownshoe," I guess.
JG: That's right. The first one regular one. I've been here and there, but this is the first regular one, that's right.
BE: What was it about "Raines" that caught your attention?
JG: Uh, well, not just because he's here, but I love that Graham Yost!
JG: He's very, very smart and brilliant. We met at the Chateau Marmont some, now, what, six months ago?
GY: It's a year ago now.
JG: Holy cats, is it?
JG: Time flies. And there they were on this nice noir-looking couch in this noir-looking lobby. Frank Darabont, the wonderful, brilliant director who directed the pilot episode, was there, and we all got to talking, they told me what the rest of the book might look like in the other episodes, and it was, uh, delightful. I was thrilled about it. You know, I love noir-y kind of things. They said, "You know, in tone, we're thinking about something like ‘The Long Goodbye,' which I loved…and I've loved a lot of noir things. And there was something about this character where, y'know, this guy who's been effective all his life and strongly identified and confident about his place in the world as a cop has these bad events happen where he loses his best friends, gets wounded himself, and we find out in later episodes that his marriage has broken up a couple of years ago. And with all this loss, and now with death, as it's always been around him and confronting him, he starts to – and very intriguingly for me – kind of, you know, his mind plays tricks on him. He starts to not only lose faith in himself as his mind, but, y'know, I think, kind of finds some kind of …lose confidence in all mental things and it sort of has, it's disturbing but I think it has an interesting, adventurous sort of very lively and present-making effect on him, if you know what I mean. It's a real inside odyssey that really intrigued me.
BE: And, Graham, I'm sure this is probably rhetorical, but had you been a fan of Jeff's work before this?
GY: Yes, from way back, and would actively seek out movies that he was in, to go see them. So even the chance to meet him was a blast, and then that he agreed to do the show when Frank and I met him at the Chateau Marmont was just thrilling. It was just a match made in heaven for the part. People always ask me, "Who did you have in mind when you were writing the part?" And, of course, the answer is me, because I see myself in all the characters when I'm acting them out as I'm writing them. But once I met Jeff, and then the first day of shooting, Darabont and I looked at each other and said, "Well, that's it. That's perfect."
BE: This one is for both of you. Do you think that the whole, "movie actors and TV actors, never the twain shall meet," thing mostly faded away these days?
JG: Well, for me, I'm no expert, it's not really my field, the ups and downs of the marketplace and if the plaid pants are in the window this week or back in the store, but, yeah, from what I gather. I mean, for me, acting is acting, and I go where the most interesting people and material are. There's no difference for me.
GY: And I would say, my perspective on it is, y'know, the reason I like to write in television is that you get to write a lot. You get to tell a bunch of stories and go deeper into a character than you could in just a two-hour movie. And I think that, for some actors, like Jeff, especially with a character like this, it's fun to get on the long journey, because you're not exactly sure where it's going to go when you start out, and you're gonna get to explore every part of this person's life. With Jeff on board, it gave us a sense of where we could go.
JG: Yeah, I love that. I love that. It's a real creative sort of opportunity, too, with really good people. That's a fun thing: not knowing where you're going a little bit, and kind of having it organically evolve. It's really, really fun.
GY: Yeah, it's been great so far.
BE: Last one for you, Graham: I don't know that you have any input into this side of things, but do you have any thoughts on how NBC should promote the show so that its cool premise stands out? Because at a glance, you would think, "Oh, it's another ‘Medium.'"
GY: You know, listen, that's something that we have faced right from the beginning, even in developing the idea, even before I wrote it, when it was just a pitch, and then an outline, then a script, and then shooting the pilot and on. It's always been something that we have, whenever we're speaking to the press or the public in any way, been trying to make clear that it's hallucinations, it's not ghosts, it's all an internal process. It's a man in a mental crisis, and that's what we're watching. I think NBC has done a pretty good job of differentiating it. There was stuff online, on NBC.com, and they had, like, a two-minute or three-minute promo for the thing that I thought was pretty great. Now, you know, you don't get two or three minutes to really lay it out; you get 20 seconds. So I think they're doing a good job. I mean, how do you do it? You just keep on hitting it. There's clips of Jeff going, "Maybe that's my hook: I'm the crazy detective. Wooooooo! Watch out, he's nuts!" And they'll use that in a promo and sort of hit upon that, hit upon that. My feeling is that people are gonna tune in because of Jeff, and they're gonna stay because of Jeff, because the work he does is so great…and to pat myself on the back, I think I've come up with a great character for him to play. And all the writers – one of which I worked with on "Boomtown," Fred Golan – they're people that we've met who we've brought into "Raines," and I think we've done a good job in writing for Jeff, and for all the characters. I think that's what's gonna hook people: seeing Jeff Goldblum playing this very interesting and different hard-boiled detective. I think that, my hope is that, once they spend an episode or two with us, they'll see the emotional side of the concept, that seeing him interact with the victims is a pretty interesting thing to see week in and week out. It can change week by week. We have one episode where…it's a really gut-wrenching episode, but it's perhaps our most beautiful, where a 10-year-old girl is murdered, and he really doesn't want to deal with that. He doesn't want to have a 10-year-old girl in his head, because it's just so disturbing. And, yet, where they get to in their relationship is his own coming to peace with that, and solving her murder, is, I think, some of the best stuff I've been involved with. So that's my hopes for it: they'll come for Jeff and they'll stay for Jeff, and then they'll fall in love with the concept.
BE: And, Jeff, just to close with a question out of curiosity for you that my editor has always wondered about: did you ever see David Duchovny's impression of you on "Saturday Night Live"?
JG: Yes, I did. (Chuckles) It was very funny. Very funny.
BE: Great. Thanks, guys.
GY: Thank you.
JG: Thanks so much.