He burns really, really hot


…At 61, with more than 80 feature films under his belt, Mr. Goodman has cemented his role as one of the great character actors of this generation. He’s not of the “I-know-him-but-I-don’t-know-his-name” variety, though—he’s a star…

…Short but forceful performances have become Goodman’s specialty.  He is in the movie for 15 minutes and 54 seconds. He creates a never-before-seen character but one that is quintessentially John Goodman. He berates the people around him, burns up his scenes. And his work is done…

…Goodman has spent the last two decades as master of a certain type of role: the potentially menacing regular guy, the teddy bear you don’t want to annoy because you might remind him he is a bear. There’s a video online called “John Goodman Loses his S—,” a mashup of his work, scene after scene of him blowing his stack, from TV’s “Roseanne” to Coen films like “The Big Lebowski” to his lead role in the baseball movie “The Babe.”…

…”The moment he appears you feel, ‘Oh, here we go, he’s gonna deliver,'” Mr. Thomson says. “He always gives it a twist. As a character actor he’s on a par with Sydney Greenstreet, He had nastiness in him, he had menace, but once he started talking you just wanted him to go on and on.”  Thomson says Mr. Goodman allows viewers to “imagine the madman inside” his characters: “So much of the time he is a sweetheart, but the rage is there. I suspect it’s directed against himself in lot of ways.”  “I guess I’m able to tap into some undealt-with anger a lot,” Mr. Goodman says. He laughs. “My innate rage.”

…Goodman arrived in New York in the late 1970s, broke and hopeful. He’d been born in St. Louis, where his father, a postal worker, died of a heart attack when John was two. He grew up big and funny and, it seems, forever wondering when his good fortune might vanish.

…Goodman has never won or been nominated for an Oscar, but he has a noteworthy Academy Award win streak going. He is the only name actor to be in the last two films to win the Oscar for Best Picture, “The Artist” and “Argo.” Mr. Goodman suggests one explanation for this: “Entirely a coincidence.” Another possible interpretation is that it is like learning that your favorite foods all have butter in them. Some ingredients just make everything taste better. Mr. Goodman laughs at that, his face squishing into a big cheeky smile: “I’m ketchup,” he says.

…Oscar Isaac, who plays Llewyn Davis, was struck by Mr. Goodman’s stream-of-consciousness monologues from the back seat of the car. “Normally an actor gets something back from the other people in the scene, but he was doing that to the back of my head. He burns really, really hot. He reminds me of a capsule coming in through the atmosphere.”

Read entire article here: John Goodman: America’s Scene Stealer (wsj.com)

Credits: Image – Movie.com


  1. Well he is great — Sydney Greenstreet comparison holds up, I’ve seen him belch and fart at an awards show — does that add to or detract from the greatness?


  2. Shoes Summerfield says:

    He had a wonderful role in Flight…he always goes over the top on his characters! He’s awesome!


  3. If he’s ketchup, then he is the most gourmet of condiments..


  4. Alex Jones says:

    A character that reminds me of those harsh moments when I bite a hot chilli.


  5. I do like him. There is something so vulnerable and real and authentic which shines through and makes me want to engage with his work.


  6. I’m stayin’; I’m finishin’ my coffee….lol!


  7. This article is so true. The minute he enters a scene I brighten up. It means I’ve got to be on my toes as a viewer or I’ll miss something wonderful.


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