John Goodman has played a number of mechanics. Dan Connor on Roseanne fixed motorcycles, and now Pops in Speed Racer works on the ultimate vehicle. Goodman himself does not consider himself a gear head.
John Goodman is Poppa Speed
"I grew up real poor and we didn't have any dough," said Goodman. "I didn't have a car until I was 18 and my mom, I don't know where she got the bread from, but she plunked down $500 at this chiseler's used car joint and it was a '64 Galaxy four door, piece of…fine automobile. I would get hotrod magazines and stuff like that and I could talk the talk, 'Three inch L Brock high riser and the overhead cam and a Hearst linkage. You want a 409 block and then you jack it up.' All kinds of stuff. But I tried to tune up my own cars and I was not unlike a chimpanzee. I grew up without and always envied cars. Now it's funny because I have enough dough to certainly buy another car, but I see these guys on the street with old GTO's and sh*t like that, and I think, 'Oh, man.' It's like the same thing as when I was a kid except that I could probably buy one."
Since Speed Racer takes place in a fantasy race world, actual car knowledge was not as important as heart. "I think the story is indeed deep. You have a son who sacrifices the rest of his life with his family to clean up something that his family has passion for. You've got a kid with a deep passion for the same sport who has the potential to be corrupt and chooses to be pure. That's based on family love and the family love has to be rooted so deep that no matter what's going on behind it. We have some spectacular, multi million dollar things going on behind us, but if that stuff doesn't register you've got talking wallpaper."
It is Goodman's first film with The Wachowski Brothers, but since he is a regular in the Coen Brothers films, he was ready to compare the duos. "The Coens are Jewish. They're from Minnesota. It's much the same. The most remarkable likeness is that they both have very strong visions, cinematic visions and they're both good writers. The goes out into what we're doing on the set and it saves a lot of time and a lot of stress. You get your work done a lot easier when someone knows what they want. If you've got a legitimate idea they'll take it, but you wind up trusting them in that they know exactly what they're doing and that's a welcome relief. You can just relax and do your work instead of worrying that they're doing theirs."
The Coens never shot green screen, though. "It was like a big circus. It was like they were doing seven different movies at the same time. At lunch it was as if there was a Viking set next to you."