With a decades-long Hollywood career, John Goodman is both a family man on- and off-screen. However, being a family man comes with all of the trials and tribulations that one could expect — and for Goodman, struggling with weight was certainly one of them. We have always revered Goodman for his prolific acting career, and now we can also admire him for his weight loss transformation.
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John Goodman has actually struggled with weight even before he made it to Hollywood. In a podcast interview from 2019, Goodman revealed that he struggled with being overweight as a kid, and this struggle that started out in childhood was carried into adulthood. Unfortunately, this was not the only adversity that Goodman faced early-on in life. In a 2015 interview with The Guardian, he talked about how he lost his father when he was only two years old.
Despite these initial setbacks, Goodman moved to New York at the age of 23 to continue his passions. He told The Guardian that the first few months he spent in New York were “pretty terrifying.” Just starting out in his career, times were tough, as Goodman explained:
“There were times when I’d run out of money…[one night] I had some beans on the stove. I left them on the stove to simmer and I got locked out of the apartment so they were gone. And that was the last meal for a while.”
There were also times when Goodman wasn’t sure he would make it onto the silver screen while he lived in New York.
Challenges From The Start
He had taken a leap of faith that many who have similar dreams do, and his mother, a waitress at a restaurant in St. Louis, Missouri, had little idea of what being an actor meant.
“I don’t think she cared just as long as I was happy,” Goodman told The Guardian in 2015. “And I think the concept was just so foreign to her that it just didn’t register as anything to object to.” To him, acting was an “urge” he could not quite localize, and he fell in love with the craft of acting as he studied drama at Missouri State University. “I knew that if I didn’t, I’d regret it – if I didn’t at least try,” he says of his dream of becoming an actor. With a small loan and big dreams, he made his way to New York and give it his all.
For most people who move to this sprawling city with big dreams, it can often be overwhelming to push through the difficulties New York can throw. Moreover, being on a tight budget and not knowing what is to come is hard on even the best of us. His hard work and perseverance paid off, however, after 2 years of struggle when Goodman got a steady flow of work from a commercial agency after landing a small break. Though it would still take time for him to become the household name he is today, it was a welcome event despite the additional challenges it brought. Eventually, after some Broadway roles, Goodman got his ticket to Hollywood and made his debut in the 1983 “Eddie Macron’s Run.”
Early Hollywood Career
This was the beginning of a what-would-be prolific career for Goodman. After his debut, Goodman went on to work in Hollywood more productions such as in the 1983 TV film “The Face of Rage,” and the 1998 Coen brother’s hit “The Big Lebowski.” Goodman even eventually branched out to take on voice-acting roles such as in “The Emperor’s New Groove” movies, the “Monsters, Inc.” movies, and the “Bee Movie” from 2007. However, there is one role that sticks out from the others — both to Hollywood critics and Goodman’s fans — and that is his role on the ABC TV series Roseanne.
Family Man On ‘Roseanne’
Goodman’s work on Roseanne from 1988-1997 — as well as the 2018 “The Conners” reboot — is what coined him as the classic family man for countless viewers on TV. The sitcom featured both drama and comedy, and John Goodman’s role as Dan Conner secured him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in 1993. In an interview with PEOPLE back in 1988, Goodman reinforced that he was happy about the character he played in the show, he said:
“I like Dan Conner. He’s like a lot of guys I know. In the wintertime they don’t work because construction is sporadic. I don’t want to have to stand for the American workingman, but if this guy’s gonna be one, I’d rather have him be semi-intelligent, not a dumb beast who sucks down beer all day.”
With Goodman working with co-star Roseanne Barr, the two seemed to have perfect chemistry, and Goodman’s role in “Roseanne” surely mirrored some aspects of his real-life at home.
While Goodman has had the fortune of becoming an actor that is not only good at what he does but also has a great ability to resonate with his audience, he has also struggled with alcoholism behind the scenes. The Guardian reports that he found it difficult to cope with his sudden push into fame that came with his role in “Roseanne,” which had turned him into “tabloid fodder.”
“It took a while for me to deal with it. It was very unnatural,” he said.
After relocating to New Orleans with his wife Annabeth Hartzog to get away from the spotlight and have a chance at a more normal life, Goodman stated that he further spiraled into alcoholism during the transition. In 2007, he checked himself into rehab and reports that he has stayed sober ever since and that his wife has stayed by his side throughout.
“It was getting to be too much,” he said. “It was 30 years of a disease that was taking its toll on everyone around me and it had got to the point where, every time I did it, it was becoming more and more debilitating. It was life or death. It was time to stop.”
There were times when the alcoholism led to him second-guessing his own talent. When asked if he had suffered from a lack of confidence due to the number of challenges he was facing, he responded, “Not as much as I used to. I had a problem with it and… I drank for a while and towards the end of that, the lines would not come.”
“And it was like a snowball. It just built up a lack of confidence that I could even learn lines. And I was punishing myself more than anything else and even using my energy wrong and it’s just a matter of being relaxed with it, and knowing [the lines] are going to come, have patience. It’s my personality disorder that I want everything right now. I gotta have it now, now! Mr. Now! I mean, you can’t do that [on stage]. It’s a process.”
Goodman also states that his personality can sometimes also be “depressive.” He describes it as a “chemical thing” in his brain and a feeling of “general dissatisfaction with everything.” He adds, “I don’t want to do anything, nothing seems right. I have to be doing something else, but I don’t want to do anything else.” However, he has also learned to recognize the warning signs and take preventative action, which involves an elliptical machine, a bit of cardio, and some boxing.
Family Man Behind The Screen
In his role as Dan Conner, Goodman projected a family-man persona that was actually true for him behind the screen at home. In 1989, John Goodman married Anna Beth Hartzog and the two started a family together with their daughter, Molly Evangeline Goodman, being born in 1990. Juggling Hollywood and home was not always easy for Goodman, and he often expressed his desire for privacy.
He told The Guardian:
“I’d had it with show business, publicity, tabloid stuff – I’d just had it. I kind of wanted to get her, my daughter, away from that.”
Even the hit show Roseanne was hard for him; Goodman told David Letterman on “The Late Show”:
“I’d get off of Roseanne every spring. I’d lose 60 pounds every spring. I’d gain it back and then some, every year. It’s going to be an ongoing process for the rest of my life.”
While he put in all the hard work for it, Goodman admitted that he didn’t trust himself to keep the pounds off. In 2016, the actor told the “Today Show”:
“Just wait another six months and I’ll be back to normal.”
“This didn’t happen overnight — it’s been an ongoing process,” he stressed.
And looking at his fitness regimen, it probably wouldn’t be achievable without that dedication. His weight-loss journey started back in 2007 when the actor began exercising six times a week and completing 10,000-12,000 steps each day. Goodman also purchased an elliptical bicycle and treadmill for his house, which gave him the option to exercise in the comfort of his home. That proved to be detrimental to keeping the actor on the right track. “I’m breaking a sweat but I’m not going nuts,” he explained later on.
Shilstone told the New York Post that Goodman was dedicated to exercise as well as a “Mediterranean-style eating plan” that included a diet of mainly fish, nuts, healthy fats, and vegetables and fruit. He said it was “mostly plant-based, a lower intake of red meat, lots of fruits and vegetables, and highly driven by olive oil.” The diet wasn’t just aimed at making the pounds drop, but also at providing a diverse, nutritional lifestyle. The foods Goodman consumed now contained high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which according to Shilstone, are great for their anti-inflammatory and mind-boosting effects. “The extra DHA from omega-3s improve neurological function. John told me it was easier for him to memorize his scripts,” he said.
It seems that very diet was the key to Goodman shedding the pounds he had carried his whole life, and what a wonderful transformation did he make!
“There needs to be strategic planning. This time, he really wanted to do it,” the fitness guru said.
Goodman told PEOPLE in February 2018 that he had managed to keep his weight off for a long time due to his portion control. His secret was to say “no” when it came to eating unnecessary meals. “But I don’t want to be an example to anybody when the weight comes thundering back on – when I start eating Crisco out of the can with a spoon and a side of confectioners’ sugar,” he jokingly said.
He also got candid on what his turning point was when he finally decided to commit himself to losing weight.
“I know it sounds sappy, but it was a waste,” he said. “It takes a lot of creative energy to sit on your ass and figure out what you’re going to eat next … I wanted to live life better.”
ABC News also reported that Goodman said he ate “alcoholically.” ” In the old days, I would take three months out, lose 60 or 70 pounds, and then reward myself with a 6-pack of bud or whatever and just go back to my old habits. Then this time I wanted to do it slowly, move, exercise. I’m getting to the age where I can’t afford to sit still anymore. And it gives me the energy to work, ‘cause work is very draining,” Goodman revealed.
Even though Goodman didn’t believe he would succeed in keeping the weight off, Shilstone told PEOPLE that he isn’t surprised. ” “He remembers what it feels like to be extremely heavy and it’s something he doesn’t want again,” he said.
Naturally, his new body has meant Goodman can fill in different roles than what he is used to.
“John is very agile. When I see him running I get out of the way! He can be a different type of actor now. He can take on athletic parts.”
Who knows, maybe Goodman might be our next Superman? While that would probably be a movie worth watching, the actor is still thinking baby steps – updating his wardrobe.
“I just ordered some nice slacks,” he said. “I finally got them and they’re too big now.”
Isn’t John Goodman’s weight loss journey so inspiring? Let us know your thoughts and be sure to pass this motivating story on to someone who needs a pick-me-up or just loves John Goodman!
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