5 Reasons John Goodman is the Greatest Actor

Rob Lewis
John Goodman probably isn’t the first name that comes up when deciding who “The Greatest Actor Ever” is, but maybe it’s worth debating. Here are 5 tough-to-argue facts that make John Goodman the greatest actor of our time:

John Goodman doesn’t conform to his roles. He makes the roles conform to him.

Take a look at John Goodman in anything he’s done since the final season of Roseanne in 1997. How else could an actor pull off a role like Dan Conner on Roseanne and then transition nine years later into a role like Howard Stambler in the movie 10 Cloverfield Lane? He went from a big lovable oaf and every-man on television to a crazy, paranoid, psychopathic serial killer. It’s easy. You trust him and you don’t know why. He’s a genuine person in real life, and that relatable quality shines through in every role he plays.

A key trait for any great actor is the ability to create a suspension of disbelief with the audience, regardless of the actual role, and regardless of his or her off-screen personality. John Goodman does that without changing who he is.

John Goodman lost a lot of weight for himself.


Like anyone else, John Goodman has personal hopes and dreams. He didn’t land his role on Roseanne until the age of 36. Prior to that, he was a bartender and server, and a struggling low budget actor in NYC. Also much like most of us, he’s lost weight, and gained it over his career.

In recent years, we’ve seen John Goodman lose over 100 pounds off of his massive frame. But the man admittedly did that more for his health than any other reason. “I know it sounds sappy, but it was a waste,” the 58-year-old actor tells People.com. “It takes a lot of creative energy to sit on your a** and figure out what you’re going to eat next… I wanted to live life better.” Notice that he didn’t say a word about a special role or a suggestion from his agent. That’s what’s so amazing about him. As both a man, and an actor, he is who he is, unapologetically.

John Goodman is always looking to hone his craft.


The man eats, sleeps, and breaths acting. He loves it! Clearly. You can see that just by looking at his body of work. He went from a show like Roseanne (1988-1997), where he played a lovable, goofy, oaf, Dan Conner, to portraying a paranoid madman, Howard, in 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). Now, consider 5 more films: Barton Fink (1991), The Flinstones (1994), The Big Lebowski (1998), O’Brother Where Art Thou? (2000), and Monsters Inc (2001).

He has played Barton Fink, a serial killer. He also played an iconic cartoon character, Fred Flinstone, in The Flinstones just three years later. He went from a gun-toting, bowling-obsessed war veteran in The Big Lebowski in 1998, to a con-man and Ku Klux Klan leader in O Brother Where Art Thou? just two years later. Let’s not forget his portrayal of Sully, a beloved cartoon movie monster and childrens’ toy from Monsters University.

To protect their careers, most successful actors tend to shy away from roles that are too different from the roles they are known for. John Goodman, on the other hand, seems to embrace every opportunity he gets, and molds the role to suit him. That is the sign of a truly great actor.

Has he tossed some scripts into the trash? We can be sure of it. But a quick look at the man’s body of work clearly shows his desire to never be pigeonholed into a certain type of role.

John Goodman is an honest celebrity you and I can relate to.


In a somewhat recent interview on The Howard Stern Show, John Goodman talked about everything from losing weight to being sober for eight years after drinking regularly on various sets, and realizing it was problem. “I got sober in L.A. and I was really worried about going home.” John told him. “I found a good community and good support.”

Before getting sober, however, the actor admitted to sometimes drinking on set. In the aforementioned interview, Howard asked if the Coen brothers stopped casting him in his films because he was getting drunk. “I was drunk a couple of times during ‘[The Big] Lebowski,’ but that was way too many for me,” Goodman said. “That was something I swore to myself I would never do – drink at work.” He said he also drank on the set of his ABC sitcom Roseanne. Vodka was his libation of choice, he explained, because it is so much harder to smell. Well, until it’s “coming out of your pores,” he added.

John Goodman Howard Stern
John Goodman appearing on the Howard Stern Show.

At an after-party when he tried to interject himself into a conversation, Goodman was famously snubbed by SNL’s Kristen Wiig. He admitted publicly that he would “probably hate it if someone did that to me too.” But he didn’t stop there! He could have played it off as an accidental slight or no biggie.” But that’s not his style: “I interrupted the conversation,” Goodman explained, “And she was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll talk to you in a minute.” Followed up by one of the most honest and blunt responses I’ve read from a celebrity of his stature: “I shrunk down to an atom size,” he continued. “I really like her.” 

John Goodman doesn’t like to talk politics and keeps an open mind.


“I keep it to myself and it will, you know, give me the cancer,” he joked. It’s an election year, though, so politics are a hard thing for him to escape. “I hate political ads,” he continued. “I hate seeing people… getting swept up into a mob mentality.” In the interview, Howard Stern wondered whether “mob mentality” referred specifically to Republican frontrunner Donald Drumpf. “I just don’t get it,” Goodman said. “I can understand because he’s a very popular figure from reality TV.” He stopped himself there, joking that he doesn’t “want any death threats.”

John Goodman also defended President Obama however: “I just feel bad for Obama. As soon as he got into office they started kicking the @#$% out of him. For no reason… He could have a cancer cure and it’s like, ‘No, it’s not good enough.’ ”

So is he the greatest actor of all time? If he isn’t right now, he’s making sure he will be:

“When I look at myself on film, I just see shit I should’ve done. I’m incapable of watching myself objectively. Unless it’s The Big Lebowski. The writing is so god****ed good, you can just enjoy it, go along for the ride like everybody else.”
– John Goodman


Rob Lewis
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