Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
Roseanne, The Conners, The Big Lebowski
June 20, 1952
Currently Known For:
Roseanne, The Conners, The Big Lebowski
June 20, 1952
“Basically, though, I'm just lucky to love what I do for a living.” Often praised as “America’s scene stealer,” John Goodman is one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood whose career spans over four decades. While Goodman launched his career in the mid-1970s, he’s best known for the role he landed in 1988 when he was cast opposite Roseanne Barr in the family sitcom, Roseanne. Spending the next nine years on the award-winning show, Goodman earned a Golden Globe Award for his performance and even reprised his role as Dan Conner for the show’s 10th season in 2018 before Barr’s controversial remarks abruptly ended the series. Now, he’s set to star as the fun-loving patriarch in the spinoff series, The Conners.
Beyond his work on television, Goodman has proven his talents on the silver screen and first turned heads for his performance as the coach in the 1983 teen comedy classic Revenge of the Nerds. Over the years, he’s often collaborated with the Coen brothers on projects like Raising Arizona (1987), Barton Fink (1991), The Big Lebowski (1998), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). He’s also lent his voice to numerous characters in animated flicks like The Emperor’s New Groove (2000), The Jungle Book 2 (2003), Monsters, Inc. (2001), and Monsters University (2013). So, how does the 66-year-old make time for everything and what’s the latest on his incredible career? Join us as we take a closer look at the life and career of one of Hollywood’s finest actors!
“When I was a kid, I loved Popeye, but the old ones, the real old ones.” John Stephen Goodman came into this world on June 20, 1952 in Affton, Missouri where his mother, Virginia, was a waitress at the local BBQ restaurant while his father, Leslie, was a postal worker. When he was two years old, Goodman lost his father to a heart attack, which left his mother to raise him and his siblings—his sister, Elisabeth, and his brother, Leslie—on her own. Because of this, she took on several jobs as a retail store associate and even did other people’s laundry to support the family.
Meanwhile, Goodman was the “loud mouth” in his group of friends at Affton High School where he played football and even dabbled in theater before he graduated in 1970. After taking a year off, he accepted a football scholarship to Missouri State University, then known as Southwest Missouri State College, in Springfield, Missouri. While there, he became a star football player and a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. However, his future took a new path when a football injury took him off the field and he was forced to find a new passion. That’s when he discovered the college’s drama program and befriended aspiring actors Kathleen Turner and Tess Harper, both of whom would one day become Hollywood stars.
“I remember finding myself in the middle of a drama department that I thought I wouldn’t be able to crack,” Goodman recalled. “And the more I learnt about the basics of acting, the less I cared about anything else. It was about self-expression through interpretation of someone else’s art, finding my own voice that way.” It turns out, Goodman was a natural both on stage and at making people laugh.
In 1975, Goodman earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Missouri State University. Knowing his future was in acting, he packed his bags and moved to New York where the 23-year-old started from scratch without any money, an agent, or any contacts. Not even his mother could help, a reality that didn’t really matter to Goodman because his dreams were far too big to cause worry. “I don’t think she cared just as long as I was happy. And I think the concept was just so foreign to her that it just didn’t register as anything to object to,” Goodman said of his mother. As for living in a new city on his own, that posed its own problems. “There were times when I’d run out of money,” Goodman recalled. “One night, I had some beans on the stove. I left them on the stove to simmer and I got locked out of the apartment, so they were gone. And that was the last meal for a while.”
Taking on odd jobs as a waiter and bartender to cover the rent on his apartment in the Theater District, Goodman finally caught a break when he found modest success as a voice-over artist. He then appeared in several plays before starring in the Mennen’s Skin Bracer commercial where he notoriously slapped himself and uttered the famous tagline, “Thanks… I needed that!” From there, he performed in several off-Broadway productions before landing character roles in multiple films throughout the 1980s. In 1983, he made his film debut in the crime drama Eddie Macon’s Run starring Kirk Douglas. From there, he snagged supporting roles in Revenge of the Nerds (1984), C.H.U.D. (1984), Crackers (1984), Sweet Dreams (1985), True Stories (1986), and The Big Easy (1987).
As his talents became better known, Goodman made the rounds on late-night television and eventually caught the attention of the Coen brothers who cast him as Gale Snoats in the 1987 flick, Raising Arizona. The following year, he auditioned for and won the most iconic role of his career—the part of Dan Conner opposite Roseanne Barr in ABC’s newest family sitcom, Roseanne. Spending the next nine seasons on the show, Goodman became a household name and even took home a Golden Globe Award for his performance as the patriarch. “It was such a good time for me, an exhilarating time,” Goodman said of his experience on Roseanne. “I’d never made money before and I never was comfortable with the fame, but all of a sudden there it was. I didn’t think I ever had that great need for attention, although I guess on some level I did when I was a kid, but it was more about being accessible on a professional level. Knowing that things would get easier.”
Amid his incredible success on Roseanne, Goodman’s film career never slowed down as he collaborated with the Coen brothers on Barton Fink (1991), The Big Lebowski (1998), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). He also appeared in The Babe (1992), The Flintstones (1994), Coyote Ugly (2000), The Artist (2011), and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011) in addition to lending his voice to characters in We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story (1993), The Emperor’s New Groove (2000), The Jungle Book 2 (2003), Monsters, Inc. (2001), and Monsters University (2013).
Despite his hectic schedule on television and on the silver screen (or perhaps because of it), Goodman’s personal life shifted in the early 1990s after he married Annabeth Hartzog in 1989 and welcomed his daughter, Molly Evangeline, into the world. Determined to protect his family from his growing fame, Goodman moved his wife and daughter to his favorite town—New Orleans. “It took a while for me to deal with it. It was very unnatural,” Goodman said of his growing presence in the tabloids. “I’d had it with show business, publicity, tabloid stuff—I’d just had it. I kind of wanted to get her, my daughter, away from that.”
Settling down in his wife’s native Louisiana and finally closer to family, Goodman thought the move was an excellent idea until his own demons surfaced and his battle with alcoholism spiraled out of control. For years, he was a functioning alcoholic both on and off the set before he finally entered rehab in 2007. “I mean, there’s many times I could have gone under. Not overdosed, but… well, misadventure,” Goodman admits. “I was an alcoholic parent. If I saw a bottle of vodka, I had to have it; it was a compulsion. My wife had given up on me. I sometimes wondered if she was just waiting for me to die. She’d had enough.”
In 2007, Goodman entered the Promises Treatment Center in Malibu for alcoholism. After his stint he rehab, he hired a trainer in New Orleans and focused on his physical health, finally getting the knee surgery he’d needed for years. “I don’t know how much the old Jackie Daniels’ franchise ruined my memory, which is going anyway, because of my advancing decrepitude,” Goodman said in 2009 when he publicly addressed his alcoholism. “I had a 30-year run, and at the end I didn’t care about anything. I was just fed up with myself. I didn’t even want to be an actor anymore…” Goodman even admitted that he often had the shakes so bad on set that he had to drink to get through the show. “I’m lucky I never got fired.”
Admitting that his battle with alcoholism is an ongoing struggle, Goodman has been sober ever since and is healthier than ever after losing 100 pounds in 2010. He’s shed even more weight over the last few years and has recently returned to television in his iconic role as Dan Conner in the 10th season of Roseanne. When Goodman was asked to reprise his role, he was ecstatic and told the network, “I’m your boy.” “When the show ended, I said good riddance,” Goodman said. “The material had run its course after about six years, but we stayed on for nine. But then I missed it.”
In 2018, Goodman returned to primetime alongside Barr and the rest of his on-screen family for the newest season of Roseanne. However, Barr’s often confrontational style backfired when she posted a series of controversial tweets that led the network to abruptly cancel the show. “I was broken-hearted, but I thought, ‘OK, it’s just show business, I’m going to let it go,’” Goodman said. “But I went through a period, about a month, where I was very depressed. I’m a depressive anyway, so any excuse that I can get to lower myself, I will. But that had a great deal to do with it, more than I wanted to admit.”
While the network’s response to cancel the show surprised him, Goodman quickly bounced back when he was invited to star in the spinoff series, The Conners, after Barr signed away her rights to the show. “She had to sign a paper saying that she relinquished her rights to the show so that we could go on,” he said. “I sent her an email and thanked her for that. I did not hear anything back, but she was going through hell at the time. And she’s still going through hell.”
As Goodman prepares his return to primetime television in The Conners in 2018, the 66-year-old actor continues to prove why he’s one of the finest actors in Hollywood. Over the last few years, he’s graced the silver screen in Patriots Day (2016), Kong: Skull Island (2017), Atomic Blonde (2017), Once Upon a Time in Venice (2017), Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), and Captive State (2019). His television work includes credits in Alpha House (2013-14), Saturday Night Live (2016-18), Black Earth Rising (2018), and The Righteous Gemstones (2019).
Of course, regardless of his ongoing success as “America’s scene stealer,” Goodman remains humbled by his achievements even after he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For him, it’s simply a perk of doing what he loves—chasing the actor’s high. “It’s like falling in love,” he says. “Almost out of body. The feeling of wanting to share everything with someone, in one case an audience. In the other case, another human being. And whether that’s a reflection of your ego or your hopes… either way, it works on the same area of the brain. It’s like a solid couple of lines of good blow. It’s dopamine. And in my brain, dopamine receptors are blocked or something. I don’t receive enough of it, which is probably why I was an alcoholic for 30 years. Well, I still am one, but I haven’t had a drink in quite some time. And I’m sure that all had a lot to do with what I do for a living.”