The Emmy Award-winning television and film actor John Goodman first gained worldwide acclaim with his masterful acting before making headlines with his jaw-dropping 200-pound weight loss. The veteran actor fell victim to the celebrity death hoax earlier this year in January (via Monsters & Critics). He then again made headlines for a possible heart attack or stroke. However, the man behind several larger-than-life characters is fortunately alive and well.
John Goodman has been a prominent TV and film industry figure since his early 20s. Originally aspiring to become a football player, he had his career trajectory altered by an injury, leading him to the world of cinema. Call it fate’s work; Goodman turned out to be one heck of an actor who has appeared in more than 200 movies and TV shows. Here are 10 of his most memorable performances!
5. Treme (2010–2011)
John Goodman had an outstanding performance in HBO’s Treme as an ensemble cast member exploring the lively cultural landscape of post-Katrina New Orleans. His emotionally charged performance as English professor and aspiring author Creighton Bernette stood out in season 1. Goodman meticulously crafted his persona to capture the essence of real-life New Orleans blogger Ashley Morris. The production was praised for its creative accomplishments, and Goodman competed favorably with the extensive cast.
4. Roseanne (1988–1997; 2018)
In the well-liked ABC series Roseanne, John Goodman portrayed Dan Conner, the middle-aged head of the Conner family. With the warmth and relatability he brought to the role, he became one of the most adored TV dads of the age. The audience also widely loved his banter and realistic couple chemistry with Roseanne Barr, who played his on-screen wife. Goodman garnered praise from critics for handling the series concept, which focused on a working-class family’s challenges and daily life.
3. Alpha House (2013–2014)
John Goodman is beloved for his role as Gil John Biggs, a Republican U.S. Senator from North Carolina, in the popular political satire Alpha House. Inspired by several real Democratic Senators who share a row house in Washington D.C., the Amazon Prime Video series is among Goodman’s best comedies. Being a major character in the show, Goodman won praise for his ability to balance humor and sincere emotional depth. Alpha House takes an irreverent look at the world of American politics, and Goodman delivers the message perfectly.
2. Black Earth Rising (2018)
In Netflix’s Black Earth Rising, John Goodman delivers one of his best supporting performances as an ICC lawyer. The British television miniseries about prosecuting international war criminals is a testament to Goodman’s unmatched range as an actor. He perfectly inhabits Michael Ennis’ strong moral compass in the part, giving it the right amount of weight and depth. Playing an essential role in unfolding the plot, Goodman excellently brings the complex narrative to life even as a supporting character.
1. The Righteous Gemstones (2019–present)
In Danny McBride’s darkly comedic crime series, The Righteous Gemstones, John Goodman seizes a prime opportunity to showcase his exceptional talent for portraying complex and dysfunctional characters. He steps into the shoes of Eli Gemstone, the widower patriarch of a well-known but chaotic televangelist family. His engaging and complex portrayal of a person with moral failings stands out in the series, proving his talent even at a ripe age.
5. Matinee (1993)
As a flamboyant and quirky B-movie producer and showman, John Goodman is remarkable in the 1993 comedy film Matinee. As Lawrence Woolsey, he exhibits his characteristic charm, wit, and larger-than-life personality to the fullest. He wonderfully conveys the spirit of a performer who is committed to amusing his audience. Matinee makes up for a great watch for fans who want to catch Goodman in his comfort roles.
4. True Stories (1989)
In True Stories, Goodman plays one of his most iconic larger-than-life characters, Louis Fyne. In the film, Louis embarks on a quest for love and genuine connections in the fictional town of Virgil, Texas. Goodman fully displayed his humor and charm, elevating Louis to one of the film’s standout highlights. Though the film received mixed critical reception upon its release, it has since attained cult classic status, particularly among fans of David Byrne’s distinctive creative work.
3. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
A spiritual successor to Cloverfield, a 2008 found footage monster movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane presents John Goodman in an intricate role alongside John Gallagher Jr. and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. He embodies Howard Stambler, a survivalist who meticulously builds an underground bunker to endure a purported end-of-the-world scenario. Goodman excellently conveys Howard’s volatile attitude, layered with paranoia and control. 10 Cloverfield Lane marks a notable shift from his customary comedic parts and challenges him to construct a menacing presence.
2. Argo (2012)
In Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning masterpiece Argo, John Goodman plays the role of a real-life Oscar-winning makeup artist who played a pivotal role in the CIA’s operation to free six American diplomats during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. Goodman’s accurate portrayal of John Chambers gave a dimension of mystery and humor to the film’s thrilling narrative. Against the backdrop of intense suspense, Goodman skillfully acted as a bridge, blending moments of levity and wit. The film went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture at the 85th Academy Awards ceremony.
1. The Big Lebowski (1998)
John Goodman’s performance as Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski is often cited as one of his most iconic and memorable roles. The movie distinguishes among Goodman’s extensive works with the Coen Brothers for exhibiting his signature quirkiness. He portrays a Vietnam War veteran with a propensity for exaggerated anger and a rigid commitment to his own code of ethics, frequently resulting in amusing and chaotic circumstances. The film has a cult following and sits high on the list of must-watch Goodman performances.