Look, I love John Goodman. We all love John Goodman. John Goodman is great! But all of a sudden he’s the biggest ticket to getting an Oscar for Best Picture. He was in three of the nominated films this year—Flight, ParaNorman, and Argo—and its the second year in a row that John Goodman has appeared in a Best Picture-winning film. Last year, of course, he had a small, silent role in The Artist. But don’t forget! He was also in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a movie so terrible that everyone was stunned to see it get a Best Picture nomination. The secret? John Goodman. I’m telling you, put John Goodman in your movie. You’re not going to regret it.
For nine years, John Goodman appeared to millions of Americans as Dan Conner, Roseanne Barr’s beleaguered husband on the sitcom Roseanne. It is a testament to the breadth and believability of his post-Roseanne roles that nearly a decade of constant exposure hasn’t pinned the actor to that one character specimen. Goodman has brought his heft and range to iconic roles, such as the overbearing Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski, the Polyphemus stand-in “Big Dan” Teague in O Brother, Where Are Thou?, and the curmudgeonly studio head with a heart of fool’s gold in The Artist. In Robert Zemickis’ Flight, one of the three movies Goodman stars in this season, the actor plays Harling Mays, a man whose personality, like that of many of Goodman’s characters, is expansive to the point of offensive and, although perhaps not good, always loveable. We asked Mr. Goodman to describe the process of becoming Mr. Mays.
My character is an oaf. He has no sense of his surroundings. He’s pretty much wrapped up in his own head, so he just stumbles around. I picture him banging off the walls of the corridor wherever he is. He’s like a medicated bear on both stimulants and tranquilizers. In that shot you’ve got there, he’s listening to the Rolling Stones. “Sympathy for the Devil,” I think. He’s a contemporary guy really hung up on the early ’70s, still living in that era, like a character out of Key West who likes to fancy himself a good ol’ Southern boy. Maybe he read too much Hunter S. Thompson. Or maybe he listens to too much Jimmy Buffet. He’s just a Parrothead–type of guy. In fact, he’s a pretty bad guy. He thinks he’s helping but he’s not. He’s what they call an enabler. He provides Denzel’s character with drugs, and he’ll be your friend until the money runs out.
Whether he is likeable, I don’t care. That’s not up to me to judge. That’s up to the audience. I just try to do what’s on the page and flesh it out with some details. I’m not trying to be mysterious, I just don’t understand a lot of what I do. I do, however, think it is a mistake to say that I bring a lot of my own quirks to the character. The hair, the outfit, the mannerisms—most of it is in the script. I just take whatever details the script provides and then try to go about it with my own observations of why. It’s also a mistake to say that I’m drawn to these types of characters. It just depends on the script. Now, it’s true: I’ve been cast as this type of character often. I did some quiet stuff on Roseanne, but recently I guess I’m just a loudmouth all the time.
It’s been a while since Back To The Future director Robert Zemeckis made a live action movie—and one we wanted to see at that. But now that the trailer for his forthcoming Flight has dropped, all that’s about to change. The movie, set to be released in November, stars Denzel Washington as a seemingly troubled pilot who saves nearly an entire plane worth of people when the equipment on board fails and he maneuvers them through a potentially deadly crash.
Things don’t end there, at least as far as we can tell from the trailer. It looks as if Washington’s character is forced to lawyer up (bringing on Don Cheadle) because of what might be revealed about the circumstances around the events.
Between the intense-looking crash scene and the dramatic, what-the-fuck-happened-to-these-people build up that the rest of the film promises, this trailer’s got us thinking beyond summer blockbusters to all the multiplex fun we’re gonna have come fall.