Peculiar Pittsburgh

Jeff Goldblum — yes, that Jeff Goldblum — is the new voice of Carnegie Science Center’s Buhl Planetarium

Star power among the planetarium’s stars.

Credits include: Jurassic Park, Independence Day, Buhl Planetarium shows.

Credits include: Jurassic Park, Independence Day, Buhl Planetarium shows.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Rossilynne Culgan

As a kid growing up near Pittsburgh, Jeff Goldblum visited Buhl Planetarium, a place that honed his sense of awe and sparked his curiosity.

Now, the famed actor’s voice greets visitors at Carnegie Science Center’s Buhl Planetarium before laser shows, planetarium shows, and SkyWatch programming.

“Welcome. Welcome, welcome, welcome to you because here you are at the Buhl Planetarium, which we like to say is a theater of the stars,” Goldblum says in the recording. “I grew up in Pittsburgh, and when I visited the Buhl Planetarium, I think that’s where I, at least partly, located my sense of wonderment and curiosity.”

Here’s a snippet — you’ll have to visit the planetarium to hear the rest.

This all came about on a whim a few weeks ago.

Ralph Crewe, program development coordinator of Buhl Planetarium & Observatory, thought that it might be fun and meaningful to have a famous Pittsburgher introduce the shows. Then he thought about Jeff Goldblum’s “amazing voice.” So he decided to find Goldblum’s agent and send a message asking if the Pittsburgh-area native would record a greeting.

He expected to hear nothing in return — or to receive some lawyerly contract.

And yet, one hour later, he received a “yes” answer from the agent.

“All of a sudden, I’m sitting at my computer writing a script for Jeff Goldblum. That’s a really surreal moment in my career,” Crewe said.

Less than two days later, Goldblum himself responded with the donated audio recording, complete with plenty of characteristic ad-libbing, joking, and even a purr thrown in for good measure (he’s a curious cat, you see).

“He was very gracious and happy to contribute,” Crewe said. “It’s easy for him, but it’s a big deal for us.”

Like, a really big deal. Crewe remembered screaming “Jeff Goldbum emailed me!” when he got the message.

“I grew up watching ‘Jurassic Park,’ ‘Independence Day.’ I’m a kid of the ’90s, so I’m freaking out,” Crewe said. “He’s still making big movies all the time.”

Planetarium staff play the greeting before shows when they know the audience will appreciate it.

“Anytime we have an audience of a certain age — not for the ‘Big Bird’ show,” Crewe said, “we’ll be like, ‘Let’s let Jeff welcome people.'”

Audiences love it — “you can see them hanging on every word he’s saying,” he added.

For Crewe, Goldblum’s greeting is about more than star power. It’s a chance to spark inspiration.

“I want to use every moment of his voice to inspire surprise and delight. The idea was to get people extra excited and to realize the planetarium they’re sitting in has this big history,” Crewe said. “Jeff went to the planetarium as a child and really did gain a sense of wonder from it. It helps us give people an idea of the magnitude of the type of experience they’re in for. … Who knows if the next Jeff Goldblum is sitting in the audience.”