More than 20 years into his career, John Goodman is in the highest demand he’s ever been in — even if he’s too humble to realize it.As with most great actors, it’s impossible to imagine anyone else doing what John Goodman does on-screen. Radiating working-class nobility on Roseanne, knuckle-whitening malice in Barton Fink, unctuous egoism in The Babe or unhinged lovability in The Big Lebowski, the 60-year-old Goodman is a singular talent, possessed of immense physical presence and emotional depth.
Having moved to New Orleans in 1997, Goodman is enjoying the most gilded run of his career, with two films, Argo and Trouble with the Curve, currently courting theatergoers. When we speak late one Big Easy evening, Goodman’s between jobs. “You know what never changes? That feeling when you wrap a job that you’ll never work again. Right now, I’m unemployed like everyone else,” he says, dead serious. “I’m trying to enjoy it, getting to the gym every day so I’m ready for whatever comes next. Hopefully, it will.”
Goodman’s recent string of good luck has been an enormous blessing, allowing him to talk jazz with Curve’s Clint Eastwood, a filmmaker Goodman says works “so smoothly, so confidently, and you never see him lift a finger. The other side of the pillow is always cool with Clint.”
Goodman also relished his role in Ben Affleck’s Argo, playing John Chambers, a real-life Oscar-winning makeup man recruited by the CIA. “[Chambers] kept his work close to the vest, but he was absolutely revered as a makeup man,” Goodman says. “He got to serve his country and work on a movie lot at the same time. That’s pretty cool.” Of his casting, the actor kids, “They probably should’ve gotten Daniel Craig to play the role. I guess there was no shooting or kung fu, so they got me.”
Though Goodman is hardly anybody’s second choice, he shrugs off such praise. “I put one foot in front of the other,” he says.
Between jobs, Goodman is anything but idle. Sometimes he’ll wander his adopted hometown for hours at a time, walking his dogs and taking in the legendary city. “At first I moved here for the music, but it’s hard to define. It’s more than that for sure,” he says. “There’s something in the air. If I had any past-life experiences, I’m sure they were all here. And the people? Let’s just say I’d be happy to play any of them in a movie.”