JEFF GOLD­BLUM

The Observer Magazine - - NEWS - BY BRE GRAHAM To read all the ar­ti­cles in this se­ries, go to ob­server.co.uk/ a-brush-with-great­ness

It wasn’t that long ago, but it was in the days be­fore In­sta­gram and smart­phones with cam­eras. I was wan­der­ing around the Lower East Side in New York City in the mid­dle of Jan­uary. It was a freez­ing Sun­day af­ter­noon and most things seemed closed. All the shop lights were dimmed with their win­dows steamed up. I saw the fa­mil­iar bright lights of a nail sa­lon at the end of a street and knew that a man­i­cure can make even the greyest of days a bit brighter.

Just as I started to set­tle into my huge mas­sage chair for a man­i­cure and pedi­cure combo, I re­mem­ber think­ing how happy I was to see that I was the only per­son in there. Nail bars are uni­ver­sal in their aes­thetic; I sipped tea and started flick­ing through the pol­ish-flecked magazines, when I recog­nised a fa­mil­iar laugh among the chat­ter of Viet­namese soap op­eras. I looked up to see Jeff Gold­blum, who at 6ft 3in seemed to tower over ev­ery­thing, which now seemed minia­ture in the small sa­lon. He walked into the shop with his wife, the lovely Em­i­lie Liv­ingston, who said hello and sat down next to me.

I thought he’d let her get her nails done and re­turn to what­ever Jeff Gold­blum does on a Sun­day, but no. In­stead, as she was choos­ing colours he pulled over one of the tiny stools the nail tech­ni­cians use and he, a man of limbs, sat down on it with his knees to his chin. He was be­tween our two chairs.

What hap­pened next, I still have to re­mem­ber was real – but it was. From his jacket, he pulled out an

comic book and be­gan to read it out loud to his wife – and me. With ev­ery inch of Jeff Gold­blum panache Archie in his de­liv­ery, he did dif­fer­ent voices for Archie, Veron­ica and Betty. The way his voice changed in tone for each char­ac­ter and the way he com­manded the space of that sa­lon was Os­car-wor­thy.

I think it must have been a per­sonal joke be­tween them. She was howl­ing with laugh­ter and his in­cred­i­ble and very famous laugh was boom­ing through the room, and I was, well, just sit­ting spell­bound.

Once both our nails were done we moved over to the dry­ing sta­tions and dis­cussed the dif­fer­ences be­tween man­i­cures in LA, Syd­ney and New York, and I thought the per­for­mance was over.

But as I was putting my boots back on, ready to leave this strange scene, he picked up his wife’s now beau­ti­fully painted feet, and asked in song, “My lady has sexy, sexy feet, right?”

“Yes,” I said to Jeff, not know­ing re­ally how else to re­spond to this lovely man who had en­ter­tained us so beau­ti­fully on a very snowy Sun­day.

Jeff pulled over one of the tiny stools and be­gan to read out loud from a comic book

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