Things were going well for John Goodman back in the early 1990s. He was a star on one of the biggest sitcoms on television, Roseanne, and he was making films with Steven Spielberg (Always), Frank Marshall (Arachnophobia), the Coen Brothers (Barton Fink) and working with the likes of Peter O’Toole (King Ralph).
The last thing that John Goodman needed at the time was a role as Fred in The Flintstones directed by the guy behind Beethoven and Problem Child 2. And yet, that’s exactly where he found himself, starring in a film that would eventually make nearly $350 million worldwide on a $46 million budget, spawning a sequel that Goodman (and the entire rest of the original cast) declined to participate in (Viva Rock Vegas was a box office disaster).
But Goodman didn’t actually want the role. He was “sandbagged” by Steven Spielberg into the role. “I got roped into it,” Goodman told Marc Maron on this week’s WTF podcast. “I was doing my first table read for Always [directed by Steven Spielberg] and he comes in and sits down and says, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement to make. I have just found my Fred Flinstone.’”
“And I’m just thinking,” Goodman says, “Oh god. Not this. I knew I was going to hear Yabba Dabba Doo for the rest of my life, and I … hadn’t like The Flintstones since I was in the fifth grade.”
“It just took the wind out of me. I was not something that I wanted to do,” he also told GQ.
Goodman, however, didn’t feel as though he had a choice in the matter. “About six months before we started filming, I got drunk and called [Spielberg] and said, ‘I don’t think I can do this’ … And I wound up doing it [anyway].’”
Goodman declined to say what Spielberg said to him on that phone call, except to note that “it was loud.”
During the podcast with Maron, Goodman also noted that he wishes he could do Barton Fink over again and that he was drunk during the entire shoot for Bringing Out the Dead and feels bad because he never prepared for that role.
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