Family & Companions
An endearing film, television and stage actor, John Goodman skyrocketed to leading man status on the strength of his meat-and-potatoes, regular-guy affability and easygoing charm. For eight years, he was a crucial part of the top-rated series "Roseanne" (ABC, 1988-1997; 2018), playing the title character's forthright husband and comic foil before taking over as the series lead of "The Conners" (ABC 2018- ) after Roseanne Barr was fired from her series following controversial remarks on social media. And while he enjoyed mainstream feature film success with the box office hits "The Flintstones" (1994), "Monsters, Inc." (2001) and "Evan Almighty" (2007), he maintained an art house fan base as a perennial favorite in Coen Brothers movies like "Raising Arizona" (1987), "Barton Fink" (1991), "The Big Lebowski" (1997) and "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (2000). Adept at any medium, Goodman thrived on the stage in productions of "Waiting for Godot" (2009) while returning to the small screen for the acclaimed drama "Treme" (HBO, 2010-13). His widely diverse roles throughout the years allowed the actor to display charm and menace - sometimes within the same role - making Goodman both an assured leading man and dependable character performer with broad audience appeal, wide range and a great deal of respect among peers.
John Goodman was born on June 20, 1952, in Affton, MO - a small, unincorporated area of St. Louis County. His father, a postal worker, died of a heart attack when he was only two years old, leaving his barbeque joint waitress mother to raise three children on her own. Goodman was a dedicated football player - as well as a smart aleck devotee of Mad Magazine - and following high school graduation in 1970 he earned a football scholarship to Southwest Missouri State University. An injury squashed any hopes of a professional sports career, forcing the funny, outgoing charmer to switch his major to drama. In 1975, Goodman graduated with a theater degree, then moved to New York with a suitcase in hand and some money lent by his brother, Leslie. He had never been to the Big Apple - as a small town Midwesterner, he immediately felt out of place. Undeterred, however, Goodman hit the audition circuit running and in a month landed work with a touring dinner theater production of "1776."
Over the next few years his average working-guy looks paid the bills in a series of commercials, including a rather infamous one where he slapped his face with skin bracer and commented "Thanks, I needed that!" He moved up the ranks of the New York theater community with his 1978 performance in a disco version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Equity Library. The following year he scored a slot on Broadway in "Loose Ends" and fell in with a crew of struggling actors (Bruce Willis, Kevin Kline, and Dennis Quaid among others) known for frequenting Café Central on the Upper West Side. Goodman was still eking out a living doing commercials when he auditioned for the notorious 1980-81 season of Saturday Night Live, though he failed to make the cut. Little did he know at the time that he would wind up hosting a dozen episodes of the show.
In 1983, Goodman began to build serious career momentum. He landed on a road tour of the musical "The Robber Bridegroom" while making his film and TV film debuts with "Eddie Macon's Run" (1982) and "Face of Rage" (ABC, 1983). He finally got the chance to show a large audience his enormous talents when he originated the role of Huck Finn's father in the Tony-winning Broadway musical "Big River" (1985-87) at the Eugene O'Neill Theater. Goodman stayed with the long-running production until he was cast in his first sizable film role in David Byrne's stylized Texas comedy "True Stories" (1986). This led to another quirky Southwestern feature, the Coen Brothers comic gem "Raising Arizona" (1987), in which Goodman made a memorable impression as an escaped convict who tangles with a reformed stick-up artist (Nicolas Cage) over a kidnapped baby. That same year he and fellow Café Central patron Dennis Quaid shared the screen in the Louisiana crime caper "The Big Easy," which would also mark the beginning of Goodman's lifelong affair with New Orleans where he later met his future wife, Anna Elizabeth Hartzog. Meanwhile, during the mid-1980s, Goodman wrote and performed sketch comedy on the monthly radio show "Citizen Kafka" on WBAI radio in New York.
Goodman was acting in a 1987 stage production of "Antony and Cleopatra" in Los Angeles when he was spotted by an ABC talent scout looking for a TV mate for comic Roseanne Barr. Goodman was perfect for the role of working-class Midwestern dad with a goofy streak and a penchant for beer and ball games. The show became a top of the ratings hit for its outstanding writing and performing, as well as its groundbreaking approach to sexuality, poverty and feminism. The role of Dan Conner was a career-making one for Goodman, who received a Best Actor Golden Globe Award in 1993 and seven Emmy nominations from 1989 through 1995, quickly establishing him as an in-demand supporting actor for features. In 1988, Goodman showed some dramatic range as the tragic Edward Lawrence in "Everybody's All-American," then followed by playing the first of several salesmen roles of his career in "Punchline" (1988) with Sally Field. Goodman took a co-starring role in the successful Spielberg send-up "Arachnophobia" (1990) and reached top billing status the following year in the unfortunate dud "King Ralph," though he fared much better in a crucial supporting role as a creepy traveling salesman in the Coens' film fest hit "Barton Fink" (also 1991). He again received top billing - and critical kudos - for his bravura portrayal of baseball legend Babe Ruth in the sentimental biopic "The Babe" (1992). In 1993, Goodman starred in "Matinee," a worthy albeit kitschy homage to 1950s B-movies, as well as a disastrous remake of "Born Yesterday" co-starring Melanie Griffith.
For the live-action take on "The Flintstones" (1994), Goodman convincingly played cartoon icon Fred Flintstone as a flawed but basically good-natured oaf and devoted husband who succeeds despite his loudmouthed manner and co-dependent relationship with Barney Rubble (Rick Moranis). The summer blockbuster grossed $37 million its first weekend, making it the first film to truly benefit from Goodman's rising star power. By then a part-time resident of Louisiana, Goodman produced and starred in the TNT biopic of its infamous son, "Kingfish: A Story of Huey P. Long" (1995), earning himself an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special. He also co-starred opposite Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lange in that year's TV remake of "A Streetcar Named Desire" (CBS), snagging his ninth Emmy nod. Goodman was a natural to play Shakespeare's larger-than-life Falstaff in a San Diego stage production of "Henry IV (Parts 1 and 2) at the Old Globe Theatre during his 1995 hiatus from "Roseanne," then followed with small roles in "Pie in the Sky" and "Mother Night" (both 1996). His growing film career led to his decision to leave "Roseanne" at the end of the eighth season. Producers accommodated him and decreased his presence in the story line of the sitcom, which was flagging in popularity after a sudden departure into the surreal. But for his breakout role, Goodman would forever be ranked No. 13 on TV Guide's list of "50 Greatest Dads of All Time."
Fully devoted to the big screen post-"Roseanne," Goodman was villainous in the film adaptation of the children's book "The Borrowers" (1997), then was brilliant as irascible Vietnam vet Walter Sobchak in the Coen Brothers bowling crime caper "The Big Lebowski" (1997). After a "Saturday Night Live" appearance where Goodman performed alongside Dan Aykroyd as a new member of the reformed Blues Brothers, the two filmed a lackluster sequel to the original film, "Blues Brothers 2000" (1998), directed by John Landis. Following a role as a hyperactive paramedic in Martin Scorsese's "Bringing out the Dead," (1999), Goodman churned out a string of uninspiring features, including "What Planet Are You From?" (2000), "One Night at McCool's" (2001), and "Coyote Ugly" (2001). He managed to redeem himself as the one-eyed Bible salesman Big Dan Teague in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (2001), a Coen Brothers' retelling of Homer's Ulysses set in the Depression.
A voiceover role for "We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story" (1993) opened up a whole new line of work for Goodman - he subsequently voiced "Frosty Returns" (CBS, 1995), "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie" (1998) and the series "The Pigs Next Door" (Fox Family). He began a relationship with Disney and voiced "The Emperor's New Groove" (2000), "The Jungle Book 2" (2003), "Clifford's Really Big Movie" (2004), and "Cars" (2006). His most memorable voice was that of the hulking, but soft-hearted monster James P. "Sully" Sullivan in the much-loved "Monsters, Inc." (2001) as well as its various sequels and tie-ins. In 2000, Goodman returned to series TV playing a gay single father sharing his home with another single dad in the short-lived Fox sitcom "Normal, Ohio" (2000), which earned him a People's Choice Award for Best Actor. Back on the big screen, he had a supporting role in "My First Mister" (2001), an hysterical turn in Todd Solondz's "Storytelling" (2001) and another supporting job in the Bob Dylan-penned oddity "Masked & Anonymous" (2003). Following the off-Broadway Nazi drama "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui," Goodman had an excellent run on 2003-04 season of "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006) as Glenallen Walken, a Republican Speaker of the House who temporarily relieves President Bartlett as Commander in Chief during a moment of personal crisis involving Bartlett's daughter, Zoey (Elisabeth Moss).
Goodman made a brief return to the sitcom universe with "Center of the Universe" (2004-05) but the show was cancelled after 12 episodes. That same year he appeared in "Beyond the Sea" (2004), Kevin Spacey's biography of jazz singer Bobby Darin before hitting the stage in a production of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" at Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse (2005). In 2006, he co-starred in the little seen film "Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School" and made a couple of appearances as a small town Nevada judge on "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" (NBC 2006-07). Goodman kept up his three-picture-a-year average in 2007, following up the universally panned "Evan Almighty" with a voiceover in the Jerry Seinfeld-penned animated feature "Bee Movie" and the Kevin Bacon thriller "Death Sentence." Meanwhile, Goodman earned himself yet another Emmy award nomination, getting the nod for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for "Studio 60." After playing Pops Racer in "Speed Racer" (2008), Goodman returned to the stage for the Roundabout Theatre Company's Broadway production of "Waiting for Godot" (2009). He next had a recurring role as a college professor on the acclaimed series, "Treme" (HBO, 2010), which he followed with a co-starring role in Barry Levinson's biography on Jack Kevorkian (Al Pacino), "You Don't Know Jack" (HBO, 2010). His performance earned Goodman Emmy and Screen Actors Guild award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie.
Working at one of the more breakneck paces that he had in years, 2011 saw him in no fewer than five projects, among them a leading role as a by-the-book ATF agent in charge of a botched raid on a radical religious cult's compound in Kevin Smith's incendiary horror movie "Red State" (2011). Later, he was perfectly cast as a larger-than-life movie studio chief during Hollywood's Golden Age in the Academy Award-winning comedy-drama "The Artist" (2011). On television, Goodman picked up a recurring role as unscrupulous government contractor Howard T. Erickson on the fourth season of "Damages" (FX, 2007-2010/Audience, 2011-12), in addition to a hilarious recurring turn as the Machiavellian Dean Laybourne on the continuing education sitcom "Community" (NBC, 2009-15; Yahoo!, 2015). Closing out the season for the veteran actor was a small cameo as Stan the Doorman in the critically-maligned 9/11 melodrama "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" (2011).
Showing no signs of slowing down, Goodman ventured across the Atlantic, where he appeared in several episodes of the British television series "Dancing on the Edge" (BBC, 2013), a period drama set against the backdrop of London's jazz scene in the 1930s. Over the course of the summer, he voiced a small-town misfit who speaks to ghosts in the animated horror comedy-adventure "ParaNorman" (2012) and lent his support to Clint Eastwood in the actor-director's baseball-themed drama "Trouble with the Curve" (2012). Goodman delivered another memorably gregarious performance when he played a crafty Hollywood makeup effects artist in writer-director-star Ben Affleck's universally acclaimed Iranian hostage crisis docudrama "Argo" (2012). Continuing his winning streak, he also took on a role as the drug-dealing friend of Denzel Washington's troubled airline pilot in director Robert Zemeckis' return to live-action filmmaking, "Flight" (2012). The fun-loving actor then capped the busy year off by voicing Santa Claus for the animated TV-movie "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!" (Nickelodeon, 2012).
Continuing his resurgent hot streak, Goodman had bit roles in the broad comedies "The Internship" (2013) and "The Hangover Part III" (2013) and reprised one of his most beloved animated characters in the Pixar prequel "Monsters University" (2013). Goodman joined with creator Garry Trudeau for the political sitcom "Alpha House" (Amazon, 2013-14), a satire about a group of Republican senators who share a Washington D.C. townhouse. Finally, Goodman rejoined his longtime friends Joel and Ethan Coen for a memorable supporting role as junkie jazz musician Roland Turner in "Inside Llewyn Davis" (2013), a character study set in the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. Goodman next co-starred in the World War II comedy-drama "The Monuments Men" (2014) and Mark Wahlberg crime drama "The Gambler" (2014) before appearing in the Blacklist-era Hollywood biopic "Trumbo" (2015). Goodman starred in the surprise semi-sequel "10 Cloverfield Lane" (2016) and reunited with Wahlberg in the Boston Marathon bombing drama "Patriots Day" (2016) before appearing in "Kong: Skull Island" (2017), action drama "Atomic Blonde" (2017) and comedy "Once Upon a Time in Venice" (2017).
In 2017, it was announced that the entire cast of "Roseanne" was returning for a reboot of the series, with Sara Gilbert serving as executive producer. The new season appeared in spring 2018 to solid ratings despite some qualms about Roseanne Barr's social media support for a bizarre right-wing conspiracy theory known as Qanon. Shortly after the season ended, Barr was fired from the series after some racist tweets concerning former Barack Obama staffer Valerie Jarrett. In the summer of 2018, it was announced that the reboot would continue as "The Conners" (ABC 2018- ), with Goodman revealing in an interview that August that Roseanne Conner was being killed off.
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Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Moved to New York City to pursue acting
Performed in children's theater productions and had walk-on or bit parts in off-off-Broadway plays
Broadway debut in Michael Weller's "Loose Ends," starring Kevin Kline
Cast in the touring production of the musical "The Robber Bridegroom"
TV-movie debut, "The Face of Rage" (ABC)
Feature film debut, "Eddie Macon's Run"
Originated role of Pap Finn (Huck's father) in the American Repertory Theatre production of "Big River"
Reprised role of Pap in his Broadway musical debut "Big River"
Left cast of "Big River" to appear in David Byrne's "True Stories"
Portrayed a murderously crooked cop in "The Big Easy" opposite Dennis Quaid
Cast in the Los Angeles production of "Antony and Cleopatra"; spotted by casting directors for "Roseanne"
Played Sally Field's insurance-salesman husband in "Punchline"
Re-teamed with Quaid for the football-themed "Everybody's All-American"
Breakthrough screen performance as a larcenous lout in the Coen bothers' comic gem "Raising Arizona"
Played the title character's blue-collar husband on the long running ABC sitcom "Roseanne"; nominated for an Emmy as Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for seven consecutive years (1989-95)
First starring role in a feature, "King Ralph"
Re-teamed with the Coen brothers as a traveling salesman in "Barton Fink"
Portrayed George Herman 'Babe' Ruth in the feature biography "The Babe"
Played Harry Brock in remake of "Born Yesterday" opposite Melanie Griffith
Credited as Karl Mundt for his role as the newsreel announcer in the Coen brothers' "The Hudsucker Proxy"
Starred as Fred Flintstone in the live-action feature "The Flintstones"
Cast as Mitch in the CBS remake of Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" opposite Jessica Lange; earned an Emmy nomination for Suporting Actor
First stage role in eight years, playing Falstaff in "Henry IV (Parts 1 and 2)" at San Diego's Old Globe Theater
Played title role (also produced) in the TNT biopic "Kingfish: A Story of Huey P. Long"; earned a Best Actor Emmy nomination
Re-teamed with the Coen brothers for "The Big Lebowski"
Made recurring appearance on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" playing Linda Tripp during the Lewinsky scandal
Replaced the late John Belushi as Dan Aykroyd's music-making partner in John Landis' sequel "Blues Brothers 2000"
Portrayed a hyperactive paramedic in Martin Scorsese's "Bringing out the Dead"
Played a high-strung FAA agent in the Mike Nichols directed "What Planet Are You From?"
Re-teamed with the Coen brothers for the feature "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
Appeared in the NY Shakespeare Festival Central Park staging of "The Seagull" directed by Mike Nichols
Had a recurring role on Aaron Sorkin's "The West Wing" (NBC) as House Speaker Glen Allen Walken
Portrayed Bobby Darin's (Kevin Spacey) best friend turned manager, Steve Blauner in "Beyond the Sea"
Cast in the short-lived CBS comedy "Center of the Universe"
Returned to the stage, as Harvey 'Big Daddy' Pollitt, the terminally ill, bullying patriarch in Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"; performed at the Geffen Playhouse
Won an Emmy guest-starring as a judge on Sorkin's NBC drama, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"
Co-starred in Randall Miller's "Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School"
Cast opposite Steve Carell in "Evan Almighty," a sequel to the 2003 comedy "Bruce Almighty"
Cast as Bones Darly, an arms dealer opposite Kevin Bacon in the psychological thriller "Death Sentence"
Played Pops Racer in the Wachowski brothers' live action film adaptation of the 1960s Japanese series "Speed Racer"
Starred in Roundabout Theatre Company's Broadway production of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot"
Starred as a college professor on the HBO drama series "Treme"
Co-starred in the Barry Levinson directed HBO film "You Don't Know Jack" about Dr. Jack Kevorkian, played by Al Pacino; earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Nominated for the 2010 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie ("You Don't Know Jack")
Nominated for the 2011 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries ("You Don't Know Jack")
Co-starred with Melissa Leo and Michael Parks in the action thriller "Red State"
Joined the cast of the crime drama series "Damages" (FX)
Cast in "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," Stephen Daldry's feature adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's novel; co-starred opposite Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock
Cast in the critically acclaimed black-and-white, nearly silent film "The Artist"
Acted opposite Clint Eastwood in baseball drama "Trouble with the Curve"
Co-starred in political thriller "Argo," directed by Ben Affleck
Cast opposite Denzel Washington in "Flight"
Cast as Senator Gil John Biggs on "Alpha House"
Portrayed a drug-addicted drifter in the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis"
Reprised role of Sully in "Monsters University"
Appeared in WWII drama "The Monuments Men"
Was a force to be reckoned with in psychological thriller "10 Coverfield Lane"
Portrayed Kong hunter Bill Randa in "Kong: Skull Island"
After "Roseanne" was abruptly cancelled followed Roseanne Barr's social media meltdown, Goodman was retooled as the lead of the now Roseanne-free series "The Conners"
Reprised role of (formerly deceased) Dan Conner in the successful "Roseanne" reboot