Goldblum and Yost discuss bringing this visionary, hard-boiled cop to the small screen

Jeff Goldblum may be best known for such varied films The Fly and Independence Day, but he is one of those rare actors who is known for what he brings to the work rather than what the work brings him. This is especially true of Raines, the new one hour police drama he is doing for NBC. The show mixes noir and comedy and in the role of Michael Raines, Goldblum plays a detective who turns victims of crimes into his partners.

We recently had a chance to sit it on a conference call with both Goldblum and Raines executive producer/creator Graham Yost.

Jeff, what was it about Raines that caught your attention?

Jeff Goldblum: Not just because he's here but I love Graham Yost. He's very smart and brilliant. We met at the Chateau Marmont... and Frank Darabont, the brilliant director who directed the pilot episode was there. We got to talking and they told me what the rest of the book might look like, and the other episodes of it and it was delightful. I was thrilled about it. I love noiry kinds of things. They said, "In tone we're thinking about something like The Long Goodbye," which I loved. There's something about this character where this guy whose 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 friend and is wounded himself. We find out in later episodes that his marriage has broken up a couple of years ago. With death always around him and confronting him... his mind plays tricks on him and he not only loses faith in himself and his mind... it's disturbing but I also think it has an interesting, very lively, very present making effect on him.

There isn't too much focus on why Raines can see these dead people. Was that an important part of the series for you guys?

Graham Yost: It's the kind of thing that evolved in the writing and then in the execution. In a pilot, I think if you spend too much time... I didn't want to belabor the whole thing and try and spend all that time in the pilot setting up how this was happening. We sort of deal with it very quickly early on and then run with it. I always felt that the dynamic between Raines and his hallucinations was what was going to be entertaining for the audience.

What did Frank Darabont's directing style bring to the series?

Graham Yost: Well, first of all to work with not only a director but a writer of that caliber, he gave me advice on scenes. "How about this? How about that?" Visually, he has a very clean style. He doesn't get involved in flashy cinematography and tricks or anything. He just wants to tell the story in a very clean and beautiful way. Then when it gets moving it gets really propulsive. He is a great student of cinema. He knows what colors to use from his palette when he needs them.

Jeff, would you say this intellectual is similar to other characters you've played? How is he different?

Jeff Goldblum: I don't think he's such an intellectual, he's a hard-boiled, kind of effective cop. Very smart and very professional. He's not such a high-falutin thinker. I've done a couple of cops recently but, you know... in some ways he's different from the things I've done. He can be unexpected and unique but is at times very quiet and just simple and straight ahead. He, like some of these classic noir characters, he's a lone wolf of sorts and claims to having seen it all. We find out that he cares very deeply, especially during this period of newfound vulnerability and identity adventure.

Why do you think right now is good time for a show like Raines?

Graham Yost: Part of it is, something like Medium or Ghost Whisperer they're supernatural shows. I think that ours falls between that or Monk, or Psych. I think that... I was in the Salt Lake City airport over the weekend coming home. Going into the little bookstore and half of the bookstore is mystery! That is the predominant genre today. It used to be just another category in books, but if you look at the best seller lists now it's... people love the series characters.

It is part of the larger culture and it's not just television. I felt that Raines is different because Raines is more like them. It's more like what we see in the books. Going back to the noir fiction of the 30s, 40s and 50s. Yet, it's very contemporary. The spin we put on it is that he's having this drastic mental crisis. To me that's a way to get inside his character.

There seems to be a real renaissance of quality TV on right now. What do you think Raines brings that isn't already on the menu?

Graham Yost: I agree with you. I think there's been quality TV on for awhile. I think that's why you're able to attract someone like Jeff Goldblum. I think what Raines brings to it is a bunch of things. First of all, I think it brings Jeff Goldblum into America's and Canda's living rooms every week. I hope we get to do it a lot. I think it also brings... yes, it's a man with a mental crisis we try and deal with that compassionately and realistically. It's basically Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This guy had his partner die in front of him and he himself was shot. Something that used to be just a technique of his, talking with the victim, it was all behind his eyes but now it's out in front of him. I think we're dealing with a realm of human experience that doesn't get all that much attention on television.

What is driving Raines? How much will we see his mental crisis spill over into his daily life?

Jeff Goldblum: It's been brought up in the several episodes we've done. I've said a couple times, "Being a cop. I love being a cop and this work is kind of all I have in a way. I've never had kids." We find out my marriage didn't go so well. It's all I have and yet it does go over. In that episode with my wife... her new husband was killed actually. I get on the case about that. At one point I start fantasizing/hallucinating about her in another life that she might have had, that we may still have. Hoping that we may still have a life together. I actually realize through this hallucination that maybe we weren't supposed to be together anyway. It sort of helps me heal.

Raines will air at 10pm on NBC March 15.

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