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The Good, The Bad & The Badass: John Goodman

Last week’s subject was all-purpose character actor Ben Kingsley. This week’s subject is similarly gifted in that regardless of what he’s in; be it a masterpiece or a turd, he can’t help but be the best thing in it.

John Goodman
 
john goodman damages

John Goodman has had an exceptional career. First making an impression as Roseanne Barr’s good-hearted, blue collar husband on ROSEANNE, Goodman was able to build on his small screen fame and establish one hell of a body of work as a character actor. Whether on the big screen or small, Goodman’s one of those guys that you always know is going to deliver regardless of how big the part is, and whether you want him to play it broad or straight. He can do it all.

john goodman roseanne

Goodman’s big-screen career arguably kicked into high gear around one year into his run on ROSEANNE, with key supporting parts in Steven Spielberg's ALWAYS and the Al Pacino vehicle, SEA OF LOVE. Typically playing a big tough guy with a heart of gold, Goodman’s career kicked into the stratosphere sometime around the mid-nineties, with him even getting a large degree of stardom as a leading man in films like THE BABE and THE FLINTSTONES.

john goodman john turturro barton fink

While playing Fred Flintstone’s probably not one that they’re going to put on Goodman’s career-best highlight reel, nevertheless it gave him some box office clout, but he soon returned to playing character parts and as such has endured more than many of his contemporaries. He seems to have a nose for quality parts and all the best people, from George Clooney to Joel and Ethan Coen, are keen to work with him. Even in a mediocre movie like THE GAMBLER (review coming soon) Goodman elevates the material and makes it worth watching just to enjoy his performance. Truly, the man is a pro.

His Best Film
 
john goodman the big lebowski

I’;m tempted to say ROSEANNE is Goodman's best work as people often forget just how good that show was in its heyday. Sure, the last season or two were abysmal, but at its best it was one hell of a show, and Goodman was a huge part of its success. Still, as far an enduring work goes it can’t be denied that his part as the near-psychotic bowling enthusiast Walter Sobchak in THE BIG LEBOWSKI is the movie he’ll always be remembered for. Goodman is so damn good in the part. According to legend, his part is based on legendary writer-director John Millius. Goodman has so many classic scenes in this (see below) and while the Coens have always used him particularly well, he’s never been better and his chemistry with co-star Jeff Bridges is spot-on.

 

His Most Overrated Film
 
john goodman monsters inc

People are going to hate me for this one, but I’ve never been crazy about MONSTERS INC or (especially) the sequel, MONSTERS UNIVERSITY. I can’t fault Goodman or co-star Billy Crystal nor the good folks at Pixar as they’re still good movies, but I’m not sure they deserve to be considered classics as far as the company’s output goes. However, the public seems to disagree, with both being close to billion dollar grossers. Oh well.

His Most Underrated Film
 
john goodman glenn close rose byrne damages

There are tons of underrated films on Goodman’s CV, from THE BIG EASY early on, to ALWAYS, MATINEE (MANT!) and more (including a great HBO movie called THE JACK BULL), but to me some of John Goodman’s best recent work has gone unseen with it being on the TV show DAMAGES. Goodman was the baddie in the fourth season, with him playing the head of a corporation of “private contractors” / mercenaries, giving the season a ripped-from-the-headlines feel. As the CEO of this Halliburton-esque company, Goodman makes for a compelling and often sympathetic bad guy, with the tragic conclusion to his tangling with Glenn Close’s Patty Hewes being particularly affecting. Sadly, the show’s fifth season was a train wreck, ruining what had been one of the best shows on TV. Still, this is a good example of how Goodman isn’t adverse to taking solid small-screen parts (see ALPHA HOUSE or TREME), which I believe has added to his longevity.

His Most Memorable Scene

Well, what else can it be but “this is what happens when you f*ck a stranger in the ass!” I mean, this is a no-brainer, right?

His Top 5 Films


5. ARGO
4. (TIE) RAISING ARIZONA & OH BROTHER WHERE ART THOU
3. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
2. BARTON FINK
1. THE BIG LEBOWSKI

 

Up Next

As always, Goodman’s in high demand, with him due to appear in the long-awaited TRUMBO, opposite Bryan Cranston as screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. He also has a part in the next ‘Bad Robot’ mystery project, VALENCIA, opposite Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

Source: JoBlo.com

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