Jurassic Jeff: The inside story behind the viral sensation

Tom Butler
Senior Editor
Find out how Jurassic Jeff went from a 3D model into an internet sensation (NOW TV/Chris Woods/facebook.com/olivanic.cerna)

On Wednesday, 18 July a 25ft statue of Jeff Goldblum was unveiled in front of Tower Bridge in London, and it became an instant viral sensation.

People flocked to take a selfie in front of the effigy, modelled on his appearance as Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, and it quickly began to trend on Twitter and Instagram under the hashtag #JurassicJeff.

The statue had been erected by streaming service NOW TV to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park, and when it caught the attention of Mr Goldblum himself, who responsed on Instagram, you just know the marketing bods responsible were congratulating themselves on a job well done.

Life found a way: 25ft Jeff Goldblum statue unveiled in London

But where did the statue come from, and who was responsible for this magnificent erection? We tracked down the artist behind Jurassic Jeff to learn more about the greatest sculpture of the last 65 million years.

God creates dinosaurs, God destroys dinosaurs, God creates man

Although the statue apparently appeared out of nowhere overnight, work had actually begun on Jurassic Jeff around a month ago by 3D artist Michael Woods.

The original 3D model of Jeff Goldblum that caught NOW TV’s eye (Michael Woods)

Woods, an unemployed artist who lives in Germany, had been approached by the people responsible for the PR stunt after he’d shared a 3D model of Jeff Goldblum he’d designed on Sketchfab, a design sharing forum used by artists to publish 3D models.

His model of Jeff as Ian Malcolm in his iconic, reclining pose from Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film was incredibly detailed and it quickly caught the eye of the team planning the Jurassic Jeff stunt. They contacted Woods to see if he could help them to construct a giant version of his model, and he says he “felt honoured and proud that someone liked [my design of] Jeff Goldblum.”

Spared no expense

The incredibly detailed 3D model of Jeff, up until then, only existed within a computer. It was designed to be printed using 3D printers, but what NOW TV wanted was something on a whole new scale. They wanted it dinosaur-sized: 25ft long, and 10ft high.

Jurassic Jeff was sculpted from styrofoam at a workspace in London (Nicholas Alexander)

Rather than building the statue in Germany and shipping it over Nicholas Alexander ltd, a London-based creative construction company, began work on recreating the model in a workspace on an industrial estate in Woolwich.

Jurassic Jeff would be modelled using Woods’ design and built out of huge styrofoam sections, carved using computer-controlled machines, a process that took about 3 weeks in total.

Jeff was carved from styrofoam using state of the art machines that recreated Woods’ design in astonishing detail (Nicholas Alexander)

Once constructed and painted with weather resistant acrylic paint, the statue weighed a whopping 150kg. That’s just over 23 stone, about the same weight as an adult panda.

After careful consideration, I’ve decided, not to endorse your park

Woods, a self-confessed perfectionist, can only see faults in the finished product, despite it winning legions of fans around the world. “I see every mistake on animations, or how things are built,” Woods tells Yahoo Movies UK.

The finishing touches were applied to Jurassic Jeff using weather-proof acrylic paints. (Nicholas Alexander)

“I wish for more details on the pants… more details on his shoes, his skin was too golden and maybe I’d make small changes on his face.”

Regardless of the artist’s misgivings about the finished product, fans began flocking to Tower Bridge to get a picture with the giant Jeff, sharing their selfies on Instagram and Twitter.

Hold on to your butts

Goldblum himself eventually responded awarding the sculpture, in his own inimitable way, “10/10 Goldblums”.

Woods, a lifelong Goldblum fan, was thrilled by the actor’s response.

“My first reaction of Jeff’s 10/10 was just 😲,” the artist tells Yahoo. “Damn, the real actor gave you now 10/10 Goldblums, it feels like the ultimate accolade or like a dream. He is my childhood idol and one of the best actors in show business.”

I hate being right all the time

Jurassic Jeff has now been removed from London’s South Bank and has been put back into storage at a top secret location.

The original design for Jurassic Jeff is still available to purchase on Sketchfab, but Woods hopes to be able to sell smaller, physical versions online in the future.

He’s looking to learn more about 3D modelling too, and hopes one day to get a job as a 3D artist. In the meantime he continues to model other Jurassic Park animals and characters, to go with previous designs he’s created from Titanic, Back To The Future, Knight Rider, and Superman.

You can can follow Michael’s progress online here.

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