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Jeff Goldblum brings his offbeat persona to 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent'

Rick Bentley
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

PASADENA, Calif. — Until now, episodes of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" featured only one cast member who is definitely a character. Robert Goren, as played in strange fashion by Vincent D'Onofrio, is a New York police detective who always seems about one emotional push away from insanity.

Now Goren has some competition. Jeff Goldblum has joined the cast, playing Detective Zach Nichols, a man with a mysterious past and a strange present.

D'Onofrio and Goldblum will alternate weeks as new episodes of the series air on the USA Network.

In recent seasons, story lines have gone more into Goren's personal life. That changes this year.

"One of the things that we wanted to do with this eighth season, from my side of the show, is to go kind of back to the early years where Goren was completely fixated on his job. Obviously, we all know that he's been a bit strange. The character. So he's that guy again," D'Onofrio says during an interview.

"He's the guy that's odd. And you can't put your finger on him. You don't know what he's thinking. But he's solving crimes."

Goldblum, seated next to D'Onofrio, explains his character in a way only Goldblum could.

"Well, I don't think we find literally out a lot about my back story. But you kind of glean things from the way I go about things. You know, a little bit. But the specifics, hmm, it's rationed, rationed," he says.

The role on "Law & Order: CI" is not Goldblum's first as a regular on a television series. He starred in the short-lived 2007 NBC series "Raines." Goldblum played a police detective who also was a real character. He would talk to imaginary people during the course of an investigation.

Goldblum has spent recent years splitting his time between acting and fronting his own jazz band. The writers incorporated his piano skills into the show.

"I haven't seen the finished episodes. I could have a nice part in some of them," Goldblum says.

There are no plans for D'Onofrio and Goldblum to work together this season. That could happen if a ninth season is ordered.

And if there is a ninth season, you can count on D'Onofrio to be there. He says he will stay with the series as long as they will have him. He likes being one of the welcomed characters.

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