Goodman In A Very Bad Place


 |  | By

John Goodman sits on the couch, immobile as Mount Rushmore, his forearms parked aboard meaty knees. Fishing responses from him is like chipping at granite. He says, “No, sir” and, “I don’t know”; “I suppose” and, “I wouldn’t know about that.” From time to time, he emits a long, breathy groan, as though invisible doctors are subjecting him to some invasive medical procedure. I don’t know whether he’s exhausted or sick; whether he hates interviews or this particular interviewer. On balance, with the benefit of hindsight, I decide it’s all four of these things with the gas turned up.

It is perhaps unfair to expect an actor to put on a show when the cameras aren’t rolling. But after barely five minutes, I’m floundering, rattling through the questions, desperately attempting to snag his interest. Clearly, there is no sign of the joie de vivre Goodman brought to his role as earthy, expansive Dan Conner through nine seasons of Roseanne. Nor, for that matter, is there much evidence of the playful gusto and twinkling intelligence he smuggles into even his most baleful screen incarnations (volcanic Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski, the one-eyed Bible salesman out of O Brother, Where Art Thou?). Forgive the preconceptions: I walked in to meet a warm, funny, abundantly gifted actor whose work I’ve loved for years. Instead, this feels like dinner with Grendel.