Jeff Goldblum said his latest film, The Mountain, “de-romanticizes” American life in the 1950s, tackling beliefs about masculinity and mental health at the time.
Goldblum plays Dr. Wallace Fiennes, a medical professional who specializes in lobotomies. Along the way, he meets a young photographer named Andy (Tye Sheridan), who joins him on his travels.
“It’s very evocative, it’s very hilarious, I think,” Goldblum told BuzzFeed News’ Profile. “And dark.”
The main character, he said, was based on Walter Freeman. Freeman was a doctor who performed lobotomies on patients with an ice pick, though he had no formal surgical training.
As a result, many of the people he operated on were left severely disabled, including president John F. Kennedy’s sister, Rosemary.
“He’s got an American ailment, narcissistic disease of some kind, that has spread,” Goldblum said of his character. He added the doctor operated in “the mode of the American huckster and snake oil sales,” performing a “fast-food version of lobotomies.”
These operations, Goldblum said, would be performed on “wives who they imagined were misbehaving and didn’t exactly fulfill their traditional roles the way they thought they should be doing, on kids sometimes with some unusual verve of one kind or another — that’s what happened.”
Goldblum said people often like to “romanticize” this time in American history in a “nostalgic way,” but it wasn’t great for everybody.
The star said that many of the male characters in the film drink a lot and “are kind of trying to, you know, drown themselves and relieve themselves from the burden of this masculine, old-fashioned role.”
While making the film, Goldblum said he learned that “mental illness comes in all sorts of baggage.”
“And one thing that this movie deals with is storytelling and fairy tales and mythology and American mythology whereby a mountain, for instance, can represent, you know, a utopia that is, will solve everything right,” he said. “But it’s just made up, it’s just invented nonsense, and health and mental health perhaps includes divesting ourselves from that kind of thing and getting our fingertips on reality.”
On a much lighter note, the longtime actor, who has starred in a laundry list of iconic movies, including Jurassic Park and Independence Day, remained mum on whether he’d be reprising his role as the Grandmaster in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He appeared as the character who in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
“Oh, I can’t say. I’m not at liberty to divulge publicly anything about that, but I hope so. I hope so,” Goldblum said.
Watch a clip from the interview below.