Happy 64th birthday to John Goodman, one of the film world’s most diverse and entertaining actors.
It’s tempting to think that every person must have a favourite film that contains John Goodman.
Turning 64 today, the big man has given us a vast array of characters over the years, from down-home dads like Dan Conner in Roseanne to total oddballs like Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski and Roland Turner in Inside Llewyn Davis. The Coen brothers, in particular, love the big fella, using him in multiple of their flicks.
His deep, raspy voice has also starred in numerous animated films and he’s hosted Saturday Night Live more than a dozen times.
He’s done extremely well for a man who told Esquire: “There aren’t many benefits that I can see in having a large frame. It’s hard to sit on airplanes. It’s hard to get into really cool cars. It’s been hell on my knees. It’s never really done me any good.”
Except give him a unique presence on film, sometimes cuddly, sometimes intimidating, sometimes just hilarious.
“When I look at myself on film, I just see shit I should’ve done,” he also told Esquire. “I’m incapable of watching myself objectively. Unless it’s The Big Lebowski. The writing is so goddamned good, you can just enjoy it, go along for the ride like everybody else.”
Our five favourite Goodman films?
Barton Fink: As Charlie Meadows in his first Coen Bros film, Goodman is Barton’s (John Turturro) mysterious hotel neighbour, an insurance salesman with a nice line in wrestling moves.
The Big Lebowski: In a cast of excellent performances, led by Jeff Daniels as The Dude, Goodman nearly steals the show as his off-kilter, short-fused bowling buddy Walter Sobchak. Goodman’s crewcut, glasses and way with firearms makes him one of film’s most memorable creations.
O Brother, Were Art Thou?: Another scene-stealing performance as Big Dan Teague, silver-tongued small-time crook.
The Flintstones: OK, so it wasn’t the greatest film ever made, not even of a cartoon (always a bad idea), but could anyone else play Flintstone patriarch Fred other than Goodman?
Inside Llewyn Davis: As bitter and twisted jazz muso Roland Turner, Goodman delivers a typical tour-de-force of weirdo, all from the back seat of a car on a long journey. Yet another in his long list of successful collaborations with the Coens.