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As portrayed by Jeff Goldblum in Taika Waititi's upcoming Thor: Ragnarok, The Grandmaster is not your average character from a blockbuster film. Just as he is portrayed in the pages of Marvel Comics, he is an ancient and powerful being known as an Elder of the Universe, and his origins stretch back to the birth of the universe. This role would be interesting for any actor to sink their teeth into, but as I recently learned from sitting down with the actor, few probably would have dived as deep into the fantastical nature of the part as Goldblum did:
I had the immense pleasure of sitting down with Jeff Goldblum earlier this month during the Los Angeles press junket for Thor: Ragnarok -- and it was a discussion about the backstory of The Grandmaster that took up most of our interview time. At first it started with the actor talking about the character's long history in the comics and his remarkable abilities, but it did not take long before it turned to note about the lessons of famed Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and the essence of everything being comprised of stardust from the Big Bang.
Jeff Goldblum has played an alien before, starring alongside Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans as a trio of furry extraterrestrials in Julien Temple's Earth Girls Are Easy, but never a role with a history quite like The Grandmaster's. As previously noted, the character is one the Elders of the Universe, which is a group of primordial beings each known for their particular obsession (as Goldblum notes, Benicio del Toro's Guardians of the Galaxy part, The Collector, is actually his brother). Grandmaster is particularly fascinated with games, and has spent eons pitting two opposing forces against one another - which is perfectly reflected in his fascination with gladiator games in Thor: Ragnarok. It's also worth driving home that he is one of the most powerful beings in creation, not only because the cosmic life force renders him immortal, but also because he has abilities controlling life and death.
Thankfully, director Taika Waititi found the perfect odd-ball actor to play the odd-ball Grandmaster, and while it's not the biggest role in the narrative, Jeff Goldblum delivers a wonderful performance. Much like the production design of the planet Sakaar, his personality is richly colorful, and even though he's definitely an antagonist within the story and does some awful things, he's impossible to hate. It makes you really, really hope that Marvel Studios is cooking up some way for him to share the screen with Benicio del Toro's equally weird character.