The Scariest John Goodman Roles


The Scariest John Goodman Roles

The scariest John Goodman roles

There are monsters living at 10 Cloverfield Lane, the unconventional thriller that was directed by Dan Trachtenberg earlier this year. But there was no monster bigger than John Goodman’s character, Howard Stambler!

Although Goodman had his breakout role as the affable Dan Conner on Roseanne, he’s demonstrated greater versatility on the big screen with an unexpected sense of menace. Goodman can easily portray everyone from a charming everyman to a sinister threat. Yet even Goodman’s darkest performances still have their shades of humanity. That’s one of the many reasons that audiences find Goodman so compelling. His characters are many things, but rarely one-dimensional.

To celebrate the release of 10 Cloverfield Lane on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK on July 25, is looking back at some of Goodman’s most terrifying cinematic roles.

The Scariest John Goodman Roles: 10 Cloverfield Lane

The Scariest John Goodman Roles: 10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane may be one of the most recent Goodman films, but it’s also one of the best. As Howard, Goodman managed to be intimidating and oddly sympathetic at times. The story kept the audience guessing about whether Howard was correct about the attack that took place, or if he was just crazy. Howard also demonstrated compassion to his “guests,” Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.). But when Howard got angry, anyone would probably be better off facing whatever was outside of his bunker!

The Scariest John Goodman Roles: The Gambler

The Gambler

Mark Wahlberg may have been the title character of The Gambler, but it was John Goodman’s Frank the loan shark who left the biggest impression. Frank had an odd sense of honour for a heavy, and he actually offered Wahlberg’s Jim Bennett the opportunity to keep some of the money beyond what he owed. But don’t mistake Frank for a good man. When he threatened to have everyone in Jim’s life killed if he wasn’t repaid, Frank clearly meant to follow through on that.

The Scariest John Goodman Roles: The Hangover Part III

The Hangover Part III

The Hangover Part III had a greater sense of danger thanks to Goodman’s portrayal of a mob boss named Marshall. For a hardened criminal, Marshall was fairly reasonable…and yet he was still capable of casually killing his right-hand man for failure. Goodman’s presence alone gave the film a more serious tone, and he was a genuine threat to the lives of the Wolfpack and their frenemy, Chow.

The Scariest John Goodman Roles: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

O Brother Where Art Thou

Goodman is a longtime collaborator of the Coen brothers, who almost always have a great role for him to fill. In O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Goodman was Big Dan, a one-eyed Bible salesman who ruthlessly robbed the Soggy Bottom Boys (a trio of escaped convicts played by George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson). This film had several intentional callbacks to The Odyssey, which would make Big Dan the cyclops of that analogy. Big Dan even proved to be more dangerous when he stood revealed as a member of the KKK.

The Scariest John Goodman Roles: The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski 

John Goodman is not a villain in The Big Lebowski. And yet Walter Sobchak was so quick to anger and violence that he’s easily one of the most intimidating characters that Goodman has ever portrayed. Walter was the best friend of the Dude (Jeff Bridges) and one of his bowling partners. Walter also laid out a vicious beating to the Nihilists, and he even threw the title character of the film out of his wheelchair!

Yet Goodman really makes you feel for Walter when he and the Dude lost someone close to them. Walter could have been a one-joke character, but Goodman gave him a heart.

The Scariest John Goodman Roles: Fallen


“Time is on my side, yes it is.” Fallen was a supernatural thriller that gave Goodman the opportunity to play two characters. As Detective Jonesy, Goodman was the loyal partner of Denzel Washington’s Detective John Hobbes. However, when Jonesy was possessed by the fallen angel, Azazel, Goodman’s darker performance upped the tension for the film’s final showdown.

The Scariest John Goodman Roles: Barton Fink

Barton Fink

Barton Fink was one of the earliest examples of Goodman’s duality on screen. As Charlie Meadows, Goodman’s character was just about the best friend that John Turturro’s Barton Fink ever had. He was so warm and friendly that it came as a genuine shock when Charlie was revealed to be a serial killer named Karl “Madman” Mundt. Karl even implied that he murdered Barton’s family after slaughtering the cops who were sent to arrest him. It was a dark turn for an offbeat comedy, which may be why it’s still considered to be one of the best films by the Coen brothers.

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