Ranking of each John Goodman character in a Coen Brothers movie

Along with Frances McDormand and John Turturro, John Goodman is one of the Coen brothers’ closest collaborators. Beginning with Coens’ second film, the classic slapstick comedy from 1987 To raise Arizona, Goodman has played both major and minor roles in six of the duo’s films.

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These roles include those that can be forgotten, as an unnamed news journalist in Skin Sugar Proxy, and memorable, as a furious veteran of the Vietnam War in The great Lebowski and a seemingly mild-mannered hotel guest who turns out to be a serial killer in Barton Fink.

6 Newsreel Announcer (The Hudsucker Proxy)

hudsucker proxy amy

Goodman’s smallest role in a Coen brothers movie is his cameo appearance as a news ad in Skin Sugar Proxy. As the actor’s only Coen brothers role without a real name, this news ad is not surprisingly the least memorable of all the characters he has played for the duo.

As usual, Goodman knocks every line delivery out of the park, but this role was more of a self-conscious wink to longtime Coen fans expecting the actor to appear in their film than an essential part of himself.

5 Daniel “Big Dan” Teague (Oh brother, where are you?)

Dan at the dinner table in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Following the structure of Homer’s The Odyssey, O Brother, where are you? has an episodic plot that allows actors to act as part of the main trio’s journey, as Holly Hunter as George Clooney’s ex-wife or Michael Badalucco as a hysterically insecure Baby Face Nelson.

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Goodman provides an unforgettable fun ride as Daniel “Big Dan” Teague, a one-eyed man similar to the Cyclops Polyphemus from the source material. Although he initially presents himself as a friendly Bible salesman, Big Dan turns out to be a robber (and a clan) who uses that facade to lure people to a remote place to rob them. Goodman plays the brutal slapstick of the battle scene brilliantly.


4 Roland Turner (Inside Llewyn Davis)

John Goodman is sitting in the back of a car in Inside Llewyn Davis

One of Coens’ most nuanced and engaging character studies, Inside Llewyn Davis, stars Oscar Isaac as a Dylan-like folk singer in the early 1960s. Instead of a traditional plot in three acts, Inside Llewyn Davis follows a series of vignettes as Llewyn drifts across America, struggling to earn a living as a musician. Midway through the film, Llewyn takes the road in hopes of hitchhiking to Chicago.

He ends up taking a tour with beat poet Johnny Five, played by Garrett Hedlund, and jazz musician Roland Turner, played by Goodman. Goodman gives one of his most understated and cerebral performances as Roland, who turns out to be addicted to heroin and dies of an overdose mid-road trip.

3 Gale Snoats (Raising Arizona)

Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter anchor Coens’ slapstick comedy To raise Arizona as an ex-con-con and an officer who gets married, wants to start a family and discovers that they cannot get pregnant or adopt a child. When a local businessman becomes the father of fives and jokingly tells the press that he has more children than he can handle, the couple decides to kidnap one and raise him as their own.

RELATED: 10 Best Quotes To Travel Arizona

The film’s main conflict is their struggle to adapt to parenthood (and avoid the bounty hunter who comes after them), but the situation becomes even more complicated as two fellow prisoners, one of whom is played by Goodman, break out of jail and come to stay. . Goodman is hysterical in the film, both with deliveries like “We Released Ourselves on Our Own Realization,” and in the more physical comic beats like throwing Cage through his own bathroom wall during a fight.

2 Charlie Meadows / Karl Mundt (Barton Fink)

Charlie is sitting on the bed in Barton Fink

Goodman was the perfect casting to play the guest in the hotel room next to Barton’s in Barton Fink, because the actor’s warmth and sympathy whims the audience into a false sense of security. At first, he just seems to be an intrusive neighbor whose talkative nature keeps Barton from getting any work done, but the character turns out to be much darker than that.

As the film takes a turn into a complete horror territory, Barton is visited by a couple of detectives who tell him that “Charlie Meadows” is really Karl Mundt, a serial killer whose MO is beheading. After putting on a convincing mild-mannered facade through the first two acts, Goodman is authentically unsettling in the grand finale as he confronts Barton in a burning hallway.

1 Walter Sobchak (The Big Lebowski)

John Goodman and The Big Lebowski

Jeff Bridges is the undisputed star of The great Lebowski as “The Dude,” a white Russian-drinking stone and bowling enthusiast, whose carefree existence is interrupted by a case of false identity and a bunch of toe-cutting kidnappers. But Goodman offers an endlessly hysterical counterpoint to the guy’s zen, relaxed attitude like a raging heathen who dares to shout at some point in every conversation. Inspired by John Milius, Walter Sobchak is a Vietnam War veterinarian who manages to bring up his military experience during any interaction.

He pulls a gun against a bowler who refuses to admit his foot moved across the line, smashes a sports car that he believes belongs to a teenager, and cites a Supreme Court ruling when a waitress at the cafe asks him to hold it down. Goodman nails every scene as Walter – it’s one of the funniest shows ever put on film.

NEXT: Ranking of all Frances McDormand characters in a Coen Brothers movie

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