NEW YORK — In the more than 140 films and TV shows in which John Goodman has appeared, the actor has showcased a range of personalities, but his character in “10 Cloverfield Lane” (opening Friday) is perhaps quite different from the men he’s played before.
“To me, all of my characters are different. In my mind they’re all majorly different. But I still keep sneaking in there somewhere,” he added with a chuckle.
“But OK, I admit Howard is not like most of the characters I’ve tackled in the past. He’s twisted, that’s for sure, but my mind’s more twisted than his,” said Goodman, clearly joking. “I had to dumb him down a little bit.”
Howard is the ultimate example of a survivalist. The actor said he has known a few people who come close to Howard’s intensity, “but no one anything as hardcore as Howard or to this extreme.
“I’ve known some that are borderline [in that department]. Hoarders, I think I’d call them. People who think they’ll never know what they will need when the end comes. … I see guys like this on the news and I think maybe I should be stocking my garage with powdered apple sauce,” quipped Goodman.
“But no. These kinds of people with that kind of mentality — it’s all based on fear. They’re trying to be smarter than the other guy, but, yeah, it’s all fear-based.”
In the film, Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle, a young woman who wakes up after a serious car crash to find herself imprisoned in Howard’s subterranean bunker. The actress said she did “read a couple of books written by women who had been captives and kept in small spaces — just to wrap my head around just what that would do to the psyche.”
Other than that, Winstead said it was the script that led her along the path to creating the kind of character the writers and director Dan Trachtenberg — plus producer J.J. Abrams — wanted her to play. For sure, Michelle is no shrinking violet.
“One of the things that drew me to her was the fact this kind of role typically would have been written for a male lead in a movie like this. Characters where they’re instantly using their skills, intelligence and strength to do whatever they need to do to fight their way out of a situation,” said Winstead.
“It was good to see Michelle was that kind of woman, as opposed to just crying and being fragile. I loved that Michelle was like, ‘No, I’m not going to take this!’
“Her brain is working from the get-go, and her brain is working through the entire film.”
As for working with Goodman — whom she had never met before — Winstead called that “a surreal experience.” The actress noted that the actor was “someone I’ve watched as this endearing, lovable figure for so long. So here I am working with him for the first time and he’s so terrorizing and creepy. That was a bit confusing for me in the beginning!”
The third major character in “10 Cloverfield Lane” is Emmitt, a seemingly dim-witted yet sweet construction worker also living in the bunker with Howard and Michelle. Early on in the film he’s injured off-screen, and Emmitt is reduced to wearing a sling for the rest of the movie.
Played by John Gallagher Jr., Emmitt is described by him as “this simpleton with a nondescript Southern accent, who just wants everybody to get along.”
As for that sling, Gallagher said that movie prop actually served an important, real-life purpose during the filming of “10 Cloverfield Lane.”
“The funny thing, while we were shooting, Mary Elizabeth Winstead actually hurt her shoulder during one of the scenes. So when they yelled ‘Cut!’, I would take the sling off and give it to her to wear for a bit to help ease the actual pain her arm was in. Then when they were ready to roll, she’d give it back to me and I put it back for the fake pain.”