I adored dinosaurs as a child, so my excitement for Jurassic Park was palpable. I’d even started the original Michael Crichton novel in anticipation. You can imagine that 11 year old me had some difficulties with the abstract chaos theory mathematics scattered throughout the book. Dr. Ian Malcolm, source of the math-related hardships, was interesting enough. However, he didn’t stand out especially when compared to the ideas behind Jurassic Park itself.
We finally got to see the movie at the cinema. My mum, being her usual mischievous self, insisted we were going to see the re-release of Bambi. She admirably kept the bit going until the rating screen for Jurassic Park (PG) appeared before us.
I nearly squealed in joy, but soon sat in rapt silence as incredible beasts began to rip their way across the screen.
Then, without warning, Dr. Ian Malcolm showed up and dazzled me for entirely different reasons.
I had read of Malcolm in the novel and thought I was familiar with his character. However, seeing Jeff Goldblum embody the part was something else. He made wit look effortless, deploying his easy smile and rock star looks to try and chaos theory the pants off Ellie Sattler. At the same time, he was a genius with a strong moral conviction.
I think my 11 year old mind exploded.
The problem was that I couldn’t quite conflate these ideas in my head. Up to that point, pretty much all media had taught me that nerds and geeks had their charms, but that they would never be charming. They definitely weren’t supposed to be sexy. Most stories I read or watched involved others eventually appreciating the boffin in the end as he or she won victories against their “popular-kid” rivals. I took solace in this; I was one of the kids known for being smart but not very socially adept. This was partly thanks to my as-of-then undiagnosed autism. It was also because other kids considered my weight an issue, and they made sure to remind me of this often. I used to think, sure, nerds like me might not look attractive or be popular, but hey, who needed beauty when you had brains?
Then Ian fucking Malcolm rocked up on the big screen. Suddenly here was someone with both, flaunting them with a ridiculously exposed chest and an arched eyebrow as he threw out clever one-liners and delivered slams to Hammond for his naivety.
I came away from the movie hyped up thanks to the incredible effects, but also because I had finally seen someone represented as smart AND attractive. The audience wasn’t meant to pity Dr. Ian Malcolm. He certainly wasn’t the “good guy” that the girl eventually realises is really the one for her after all.
I adored him from the get-go.
Hoping for a Malcolm fix, I finished reading the novel and sought out any news relating to the almost inevitable Jurassic Park sequel. I began to find geekier boys attractive, unfairly expecting them to live up to Malcolm’s charisma. It was a hell of a pressure to put on 13 year old boys. They were still just trying to work out the most effective ratio of cheap body spray to square inch of skin.
Four long years later, Jurassic Park: The Lost World arrived in cinemas. I was ecstatic. Not only would there be more dinosaur wonders, Ian Malcolm was leading the story this time. I remember nervously waiting for the film to begin, a grin on my face as the lights faded out.
I left the cinema disappointed. Yes, I had got Ian Malcolm all right, but things had changed. He looked more haggard, but I had tried to reassure myself. I argued that this was of course reasonable considering everything he had gone through in the first movie. Then, early in the film, his daughter turned up. I suddenly realised I had a crush on a character who had a child only a few years younger than me. In an instant, it felt very strange to adore Malcolm; the crush dispelled soon after.
It also didn’t help that The Lost World was utter pants compared to Jurassic Park.
Over the years, I’ve been intrigued by similar types of characters, though it’s not quite the same. Yet thanks to the recent Thor: Ragnarok, I’ve found my crush re-ignited and this time it feels like I’ve got the correct target: Jeff Goldblum himself. As much as I appreciate Dr Ian Malcolm teaching me that smart people were also attractive, and not just in the “consolation prize” way I had so often seen in films and TV, that smile and that charm always came from Goldblum. He reprises his role as Ian Malcolm in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom this year. To be honest, I couldn’t be happier to see him and Dr. Malcolm again.