We hear John Goodman before we see him, introducing himself in the booming, mock-grand tones of an emcee: “Ladies and gentlemen … The amazing … The incomparable…”
He enters the room with a round of handshakes – “John Goodman; nice to meet you” – and reaches keenly for the bowlful of mints on the table. “What are these gizmos?”
The 63-year-old actor is in New York’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel promoting 10 Cloverfield Lane, a sci-fi thriller produced by J.J. Abrams on the sly while he was directing Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Goodman plays Harold, a self-deluded survivalist who holds a young girl captive in his subterranean bunker under the pretense of protecting her from the cataclysmic events above.
A companion piece rather than a literal sequel to the 2008 found-footage monster movie Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane’s sense of looming dread is more rooted in performance and more reminiscent of Hitchcock than your typical sci-fi blockbuster.
It’s a uniquely chilling turn from Goodman, although there’s an essential humanity to the performance that comes through.
“I’m just playing a misunderstood, lonely man,” he says, guessing that he was cast because he looks like “a regular fat schmo who’ll cut your grass for you instead of digging bunkers and kidnapping girls.”
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