Jeff Goldblum is capable of making any character a memorable one. How did he prepare for the role of Adam Stein, an Oscar-worthy performance and Goldblum’s best work?

“I like to prepare,” he says. “I’ve taught for the last 20 years, and I like the craft and new investigations, new experiments about how you can best prepare so good things can come out. I had this a year before I did the part. I learned the whole thing like a play.”

For Goldblum, creating the character was not limited to reading. “I went to Germany,” he recalls. “I went to Israel for the first time, to suss out where my character might actually be living, what that life might be like.”

Goldblum also had to learn new talents. “I knew I had to attack the problem of the violin. You see me play before the war, then of course in the concentration camp. I’m a pianist. I know music, and I play the piano. I have a jazz group in Los Angeles, but I’ve never played the violin. I got a violin teacher early on, took lessons, got a violin and played it every day.”

Adam Resurrected seems easy to obsess over. “At one point,” director Paul Schrader explains, “Orson Welles wanted to do it with Betty Davis. Charlie Chaplin was actually interested in it at one point. The current life [of the project], this man, Ehud Bleiberg, who read this book while he was on leave from the second Lebanon war, he became obsessed with the book and spent 20 years getting the rights, getting the script and getting it made.”

Adam Resurrected releases in select theaters Dec. 19.