John Goodman turns in two movie-stealing performances this year, one in Argo (“Argofuckyourself”) and one in Flight. In this interview he talks about New Orleans, alcoholism and Denzel Washington’s character in Flight hitting close to home. It’s an uncharacteristically revealing interview with the great Goodman (aka Walter for all time):

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  • Mark

    Scene-stealing? I can barely remember him in Argo and I only saw it on Saturday night. (Brilliant film, by the way). This is where I don’t understand why some performances are singled out for awards attention: what was so good about John Goodman in Argo? Was the role difficult? Didn’t seem so. The same can be said about Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech. Did this really deserve the attention it received? Mila Kunis in Black Swan? Really? There appears to be some ‘random’ factor involved in the singling out of supporting performances for awards consideration. Can anyone enlighten me?

  • phantom

    In the last two years he pulled off one of the quietest yet most impressive comebacks I have ever seen. Since 2010 he has been featured prominently in 3 TV Shows : the critical darling ‘Treme’, a recurring role on the No1 sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and his best one, a regular role on the 4th season of Damages, he played against type and he was a brilliant villain.

    Also, he was in two best picture nominees last year including the winner, Argo will make the cut, as well, meanwhile he has a critically acclaimed supporting turn in Denzel Washington’s Flight, and also starred in Trouble with the Curve alongside Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams.

    Next year he will be in the new Coen-film (Inside Llewyn Davis), a summer comedy starring genre all stars Will Ferrell, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn (The Internship), the surefire smash hit The Hangover III and is also signed on for Clooney’s ‘The Monuments Men’ which will star Clooney (directing himself once again), Cate Blanchett, Daniel Craig and sounds like the kind of historical drama the Academy usually LOVES.

    Also, his voice work includes this year’s Best Animated Feature hopeful Paranorman and next year’s Pixar sequel, Monster University.

    Bottom line : He became one of the very best character actors working today and we barely noticed.

  • There appears to be some ‘random’ factor involved in the singling out of supporting performances for awards consideration.

    From your 3 examples, enthusiasm for each of those performances might be largely reliant on our affection for the characters. More a function of the role rather than the actor’s work? And the Oscar goes to: Affable Uncle, Lovable Wife, Playful Cousin. The category is Best Fascinating Character We Wish We Knew.

  • The difficulty of a role does not determine the quality of the performance. It takes talent to deliver such natural performances as John Goodman regularly does. The best thing about him is that he never seems to be acting. Mark, you bring up Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech and Mila Kunis in Black Swan – not groundbreaking work, either of those performances, but did you ever question their believability?

    In that he understands the understatement required to give effective, humble performances in the right circumstances, John Goodman is one of Hollywood’s best actors.

  • Mark

    @ Ryan: good point. I think affection for the character does play a role.
    @ Paddy: another good point. But believability is the basic requirement for any good performance (ask any actor); it is not enough of a justification (or should not be) for awards consideration. The majority of the acting I see on prime time tv is believable. There should be something in an Academy Award-nominated performance that sets it well and truly above other performances. That ‘quality’ seems to be hard to pin down. As a further example from Argo, I found Victor Garber, as the Canadian ambassador, particularly affecting. He was sensitive and (yes) believable. Yet he has not entered the awards talk. Perhaps because he is not John Goodman?

  • The Great Dane

    People slap never mention the amazing fact that he was in TWO of last year’s Best Picture nominees. A feat that only Viola Davis also achieved.

  • Name*

    I thought he was better than Alan Arkin in Argo.

  • DaneM

    I think scene-stealing is also a stretch for Goodman in Argo. He was good, quite affable. Arlin was funnier — and wasnt Arkin’s character the first to say “Argo fuck yourself”?

    Nonetheless, if Argo wins BP that would make appearances in back to back BP winners for Goodman. Good luck charm?

  • phantom

    The Great Dane

    Also Brad Pitt (Moneyball, The Tree of Life) and Jessica Chastain (The Help, The Tree of Life.

  • The Great Dane

    You got me, Phantom. Keep forgetting that the Oscars were bold enough to nominate Tree of Life. 🙂

    If only people would stop whining over War Horse and Extremely Loud getting in. The Academy were the only ones who truly embraced Tree of Life as well.
    Had there not been the new #1 voting system, Tree of Life wouldn’t have gotten in either.

    So people need to ask themselves: What would have been best? To have Tree of Life nominated but also including War Horse and Extremely Loud, or all three of them not nominated?
    When you know your answer, you know how you really feel about the new voting system.

    I’ll take a War Horse and an Extremely Loud any day if it also makes room for Tree of Life, a film that I’m not the greatest fan of – but it means something to me that the Academy would nominate a film like that. So yes, most of the nominated films last year were sobby, but DON’T forget Tree of Life also made it, so the Academy is not all unimaginative and suckers.

  • Joao Mattos

    Haven’t seen “Argo” yet, but Goodman was robbed of a nomination for Supporting Actor in the year of “Barton Fink” (nothing against Michael Lerner, both deserved to bem nom). One of the most scandalous omissions ever in this category at the Oscars.

  • phantom

    The Great Dane

    Now the only question remains, if there will be a treeoflife-slot this year, which film will get it ? Which film will have the most passionate fanbase that could provide that crucial 5% No1 against all odds? Could it be another indie ? If that’s the case, ‘The Master’ seems like the most likely contender with its great pedigree and all BUT ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is in the mix, too. Or could it be a genre film this time around ? ‘Skyfall’ which had a smash Academy-screening or maybe ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, the final part of the trilogy that reportedly resulted the BP-expansion ? Maybe a sweeping, daring, misuderstood epic film like Cloud Atlas or Anna Karenina ? OR a potentially disappointing yet-unseen contender like Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, Promised Land or Django Unchained, that could benefit from the late release date and early Academy-deadline because most ballots will be mailed before their critical consensus comes in AND if that’s the case, could members vote for them simply based on pedigree ? Hmm…this year the Academy DEFINITELY has several viable options to surprise us all.

    P.S. I didn’t mention ‘Life of Pi’ and ‘The Impossible’ because I firmly believe both will make the cut.

  • I wouldn’t say that Les Miz or Zero Dark Thirty are movies that would fill the “Tree of Life slot”. If they live up to their hypes, they are in no matter what, taking the “Hugo slot” if you want to call it that.

    As for a critics-darling film that divides audiences like Tree of Life did, but made everyone respect the Academy for nominating it, I think this year that would be “The Master” or Haneke’s “Amour”. I’m seeing “Anna Karenina” next week, and as much as I loved “Cloud Atlas” – the chances of it getting any kind of nomination are slim to nil.

    But back to John Goodman. His Walter from Big Lebowski will forever be one of the greatest characters of modern cinema, for me. I love seeing him in anything, his recent TV work (especially Damages like someone pointed out earlier) is stellar stuff. This year, his work in Argo and Flight is fantastic, but as far as Flight goes he plays a comic relief guy, a throwaway character more than anything else. He’s hilarious, and one of the best things about the film, but story-wise he’s lost.

    That’s why I’d like to see him nominated for Argo instead. It’s less of a showy performance but he’s excellent in it and delivers some fantastic lines (“If he knew how to act he wouldn’t be playing a Minotaur”).

    It would be the kind of nomination that you give to a respected actor for his body of work over the course of the past few years, and his steady solid work. He’s not winning, no matter what he gets nominated for.

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