Never underestimate the power of losing your shirt on the big screen. Urban legend claims that when Clark Gable stripped off his white button-down in 1934’s It Happened One Night, the hysteria surrounding his bare chest caused sales of undershirts to drop 75 percent nationwide in the aftermath. And when Jeff Goldblum showed some skin as Dr. Ian Malcolm in 1993’s Jurassic Park, it helped turn him from a reliable character actor into one of the internet’s favorite people.
Like so many iconic movie moments, there was nothing in the script telling Goldblum to unbutton—this exercise in the timeless art of seduction was completely his call. In an interview with Yahoo!, the actor recalled that part of the reason he made the decision was to add a little more believability to the moment.
“It’s supposed to be Costa Rica, right? So things are hot and I’m sure I’m in some sort of fever,” Goldblum said. “So all the logic is that we gotta get some of these wet clothes off immediately. As I remember, I don’t think anybody fought me on that.”
According to Uproxx, during a recent interview with the movie’s cast and crew for its 25th anniversary, Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts corroborated the story with Jurassic Park’s assistant director. So not only was this a spur-of-the-moment decision, but no one on the set even thought it was a big deal.
The decision to let Goldblum bare all (or at least some) paid off handsomely, as the scene has become the source of countless memes, YouTube parodies, and even toys and magnet books 25 years later. And it’s doubly satisfying that such an insignificant, improvised moment could become so memorable for Goldblum, whose character of Malcolm is a chaos theorist with an understanding of how insignificant actions can have huge, unintended consequences.
The legend of Ian Malcolm continues on June 22 when the character makes his return in Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom.