John Goodman is a big man in movies Actor: His films released this year are 'Fallen,' 'Blues Brothers 2000,' 'The Borrowers' and 'The Big Lebowski.'

March 29, 1998|By Bob Strauss | Bob Strauss,LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS

It's as if "Roseanne" never went off the air. Or, at least, as if Dan Conner never died.

Four films featuring John Goodman, the big, versatile actor who co-starred in the wildly successful sitcom, have been released in the first 10 weeks of 1998.

In "Fallen," he plays a cop on the trail of a supernatural killer. In "Blues Brothers 2000," the sequel to the 1980 car wreck and R&B comedy, Goodman can be spotted in the regulation black suit, shades and porkpie hat, belting out songs as he hasn't since his Broadway breakthrough, "Big River," 13 years ago.

In "The Borrowers," a Gulliver-esque children's fantasy, 4-inch-tall sprites take on Goodman's greedy, full-size lawyer. And earlier this month, he appeared in "The Big Lebowski," by Joel and Ethan Coen, the filmmaking brothers behind some of Goodman's best roles ("Raising Arizona," "Barton Fink").

Add Goodman's recent "Saturday Night Live" portrayals of Moses and White House scandal figure Linda Tripp to the mix, and you clearly have a guy who has escaped the weekly TV grind and is enjoying the chance to display his diversity.

"It's weird the way it turned out," Goodman, 45, says. "Four things coming out at once; I don't know if it's going to be good or bad, but they're all pretty different. I never looked at 'Roseanne' as any barrier to doing that, though. I usually got to do two movies a summer while I had that job."

Indeed, Goodman can boast some dozen movie credits since "Roseanne" debuted in 1988, including such noteworthy efforts as "Sea of Love," playing Babe Ruth in "The Babe" and bringing the well-known cartoon cave man to life in "The Flintstones."

His current films fulfilled a variety of desires. "The Borrowers," based on Mary Norton's series of children's books, was a chance for him to make a film his 7-year-old daughter, Molly, could enjoy. It was also a gas to shoot the film in England on ultra-stylized sets, designed with giant props of everyday items the tiny heroes "borrow" from their human neighbors.

"I lose things all the time, and I like to think there's a reason behind it other than creeping senility or stupidism," he admits.

TC "Also, this guy I play, Ocious P. Potter, is a real weasel. This guy has no redeeming qualities; he's mean-spirited, short-fingered, money-grubbing, pushy. Did I say greedy yet? It's really fun to play somebody that rotten."

Also fun, for Goodman, was participating in the sequel to one of his favorite movies.

"It took four years to get 'Blues Brothers 2000' made; the studio just didn't want to do it," he says. "Originally, I approached Dan Aykroyd when I heard a rumor that he might have been starting a sequel. I would've played a cop, moved traffic cones for it, anything; I wanted to be part of that energy."

Goodman was pleased to discover that surviving Blues Brother Aykroyd had already written a role with him in mind: Mighty Mack McTeer, a bartender whose dream to sing R&B comes true when Aykroyd's Elwood Blues gets out of prison and tries to re-form his destruction-prone band.

As for "Lebowski," Goodman enjoyed bringing to life a character only the Coens could create.

"They knew a couple of guys like Walter. I can't make up my mind whether he saw a lot of action in 'Nam or whether he was in the rear with the gear, but I like the way he handles himself in a crisis."

Since "Lebowski" wrapped last fall, Goodman has done very little -- for the first time in a decade.

"It's been interesting. I've found out how lazy I can get; I've reached the bottom of that barrel. I even did more when I first got off than I do now; before, I could play golf and do more outdoor stuff, but now it's too chilly."

And he has no plans to work, or to do anything more than spend time with his family, in the near future.

"I never was really much on planning," he admits. "I'm just waiting for whatever comes next down the line."

There is one call he'd be happy to get, though.

"Y'know, [Roseanne's] devoting a lot of energy to the talk show she's developing now. I don't expect to be a guest on it; I think she just wants to put the sitcom behind her and move on.

"But if she does ask me to appear, I'll be there in a minute."

Pub Date: 3/29/98

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