Every Role In A Coen Brothers Movie, Ranked

John Goodman met for the first time Joel and Ethan Coen when he auditioned for their 1987 film Raising Arizona. Clearly, the couple saw something unique in Goodman, as they went on to cast him in six of their movies, both as a mean and a softer personality. Goodman also saw something genuine and important in the Coens.



In a colliderinterview, John Goodman says the Coen brothers’ vision is “really brilliant, and they know how to achieve it”. In various interviews, including this one, Goodman points out that he doesn’t even have to read a Coen brother’s script to accept one of their roles. In another conversation, with Rolling Stone, Goodman describes the Coen brothers’ characters as “literary” and that he “always wants to know what happens to them”. When casting for their movies, it’s clear the Coens have a knack for seeing when an actor has a lot of flexibility, even if they’ve been molded into a specific personality.

While John Goodman openly praises the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan haven’t gone into much detail about why Goodman is such a good fit for their movies. It may just be because the pair are very open about not being interested in interviews, as mentioned in a Helytimesarticle, and Goodman’s roles in the Coen brothers’ films seem to speak for themselves. He’s a versatile actor, performing in everything from television Roseane at Disney The Emperor’s New Groove while maintaining his own unique presence, and so it’s no mystery why the Coens usually choose him. Here are all of John Goodman’s roles in a Coen Brother movie, ranked.


6 News Announcer – The Hudsucker Proxy

John Goodman has a very brief role in the 1994 film The Hudsucker Proxy. A business school graduate named Norville Barnes, played by Tim Robbins, is unexpectedly propelled to the position of president of Hudsucker Industries. John Goodman appears fleetingly as a newscaster who reports on events around the business and, as usual, delivers every line with a punch despite it being a small role.

5 Roland Turner (Inside Llewyn Davis)

This 2013 Coen Brothers movie Inside Llewyn Davis follows the career of an aspiring folk singer, Llewyn Davis, played by Oscar Issac, who pursues fame while trying to maintain a stable personal life. At some point, Davis travels to Chicago to try his luck there. He rides with two other musicians: Johnny Five, played by Garrett Hedlund, and jazz musician Roland Turner, played by John Goodman.

Related Link: The Coen Brothers: How Directors Dissect American Culture

Goodman portrays Roland as a selfish, self-absorbed man who speaks in long monologues. It’s one of Goodman’s most underrated performances for the way Roland walks around and maintains a carefree demeanor, while harnessing a kind of inscrutable wisdom. When the trio stop at a restaurant, Roland dies of a drug overdose, complicating Davis’s journey across the country.

4 Gale Snoats (Raising Arizona)

The 1987 movie Raising Arizona tells the story of an ex-con named “Hi”, played by Nicolas Cage, who proposes to a police officer, Edwina, played by Holly Hunter. After the couple takes a baby away because they can’t have one themselves, they are visited by Hi’s former cellmates Gale and Evelle. Gale is played by John Goodman perfectly, handling what the actor does so well for the Coens (a combination of bullying and affable good-natured humor) with more gentleness than usual. The two escaped convicts arrive unannounced and Gale explains that they dug in when ‘the institution had nothing left to offer [them].” Goodman plays the redneck convict hilariously and excels in every scene, especially when Gale and Evelle lose Hi and Edwina’s baby.


3 Daniel Teague – O brother, where are you?

In the 2000 movie O brother, where are you?, John Goodman plays a one-eyed member of the Klu Klux Klan who poses as a Bible salesman. The film is based on the plot of Homer Odyssey and Goodman’s character, Daniel “Big Dan” Teague, who is similar to the OdysseyCyclops of Polyphemus. Goodman plays an initially charming and humorous Big Dan who, after luring his victims with salesman facade, will attempt to assault whoever falls into his trap. Goodman excels in the fight scene between himself and the characters of George Clooney and Tim Blake Nelson, and unleashes his rage at just the right time.

Related Link: 10 Best Coen Brothers Movies, Ranked

2 Karl Munt (Barton Fink)

Set in the 1940s, Barton Fink follows the titular New York playwright, lands a deal to write film scripts in Los Angeles. Fink, played by John Turturro, holed up in a run-down motel to start his job before being interrupted by a man in the next room, Charlie Meadows. Meadows is portrayed by John Goodman as overly friendly and talkative. Shortly after spending time with Meadows, Fink learns from two police officers that Charlie Meadows is actually Karl Munt, the serial killer. Similar to his roles in other Coen films, John Goodman plays an excellent and manipulative criminal. According to a Looper article by Mikeal Trench, the character of Goodman is pivotal to the film “in that his inclusion shows just how far Fink really is from the world he aims to portray.” Goodman is downright apocalyptic and terrifying here.


1 Walter Sobchak – The Great Labowski

Walter Sobchak is by far John Goodman’s most popular and arguably best role in a Coen film, although the actor himself doesn’t think so. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Goodman admits that although he loves The great Lebowskiher favorite performance is in Barton Fink. What’s so perfect about Walter Sobchak, a Vietnam War veteran with an explosive personality, is that he’s the complete opposite of his unresponsive, laid-back friend, “the dude,” and their complacent, passive, Donnie. for Walter, the guy (Jeffery Lebowski, played by Jeff Bridges), would not be so excited about this case of mistaken identity. Goodman is perfect here, and his hilarious one-sided arguments with Donnie (a wonderful Steve Buscemi) are a highlight of the film.

John Goodman has been a staple in the Coen brothers’ films since 1987. Joel and Ethan Coen aren’t currently working on any new projects together, and their last effort as a couple was in 2018. The Ballad of Buster Scruggsit is therefore uncertain whether Goodman will work with the two of them together again.


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