John Goodman says he doesn’t regret defending co-star Roseanne Barr after tweet controversy: “I felt bad for her”

John Goodman, 71, is one of the most beloved actors in Hollywood, a fixture of TV and movie screens for decades. But it was the sitcom Roseanne, which premiered in 1988, that really launched his career and introduced him to a widespread audience.

Goodman was acclaimed for his performance as patriarch Dan Conner in the hit sitcom, starring opposite Roseanne Barr. Throughout its run they were praised for their chemistry and realistic depiction of a working-class American family.

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But Barr’s career and legacy were severely impacted in 2018 when one of her tweets was widely criticized as racist — and Goodman was one of her few costars to defend her personally.

Now, Goodman says he has no regrets about defending his embattled co-star.

Roseanne originally ran for 9 seasons from 1988 to 1997, a major ratings hit for most of its run. Barr won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in 1993, and Goodman and Barr both received Golden Globes.

Roseanne and John Goodman (Photo by Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

The series was brought back for a revival in 2017, to continued ratings success and positive reviews. But in 2018, a tweet by Barr about former Obama administration advisor Valerie Jarrett was criticized as racist. (Jarrett, who is Black, is compared to Planet of the Apes in the controversial tweet.)

In response to the controversy, ABC canceled the Roseanne reboot after one season, with the network president calling her remarks “abhorrent, repugnant, and inconsistent with our values.”

The reboot was retooled into a spin-off called The Conners, which continues to air, with original stars John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and Sara Gilbert but without Barr.

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Barr’s tweet and the ensuing fallout remain a contentious subject: while many say they crossed a line and were too offensive for the star of a family sitcom, Barr and her supporters have said she was targeted for her political beliefs. (Barr initially blamed the tweet on her being on Ambien, and later offered an apology: “I’m sorry that you feel harm and hurt… I wish I worded it better.”)

But John Goodman was one of the few stars to come to her defense at the time. “I’ll put it this way, I was surprised at the response,” Goodman told The Sunday Times in 2018. “I know for a fact that she’s not a racist.” Barr later thanked her co-star for “speaking truth about me.”

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Recently, Goodman told Variety that he has no regrets about speaking up for Barr, saying it made him “uncomfortable” to see the press “attacking Roseanne.”

“I felt bad for her,” Goodman said. “I just feel terrible about the whole thing. We had a great time. And I love her. She’s just her own person.”

Reflecting on the legacy of Roseanne and The Conners, Goodman said it was Barr who helped set the tone for the sympathetic depiction of blue-collar Americans.

“A lot of people have tied into the struggle of living paycheck to paycheck. And we try to handle it with humor,” Goodman said. “Roseanne said something very early in the process: ‘Just because we’re poor doesn’t make us stupid.’ And I think that has a lot to say for the series, but it’s a struggle that’s handled with humor.”

Despite his continued respect for his former on-screen wife, Goodman was unsure if he would work with her again.

“I don’t know. If she’d liked to… I just don’t know. I miss her,” he told Variety. “I wish her well.”

Don’t count on Barr making an appearance on The Conners: the spin-off killed off her character early in the show’s run. And while Goodman defended Barr, co-star Sara Gilbert attacked her tweet as “abhorrent,” which Barr has never forgiven, saying Gilbert “stabbed her in the back” and “repeatedly twisted it.”

“It was her tweet that canceled the show,” Barr said in an interview with Megyn Kelly. “And then she tweeted ‘It’s sad when one cast member,’ something about racist, blah, blah. And I was floored. I was just floored… but she ends up owning my work.”

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Goodman continues to star on both The Conners and HBO’s The Righteous Gemstones. Barr recently returned to stand-up in the special Cancel This!, which premiered on Fox Nation this year.

In spite of all the controversies surrounding Roseanne Barr, Roseanne was a truly special TV show and John Goodman still has plenty of love and respect for his former co-star.

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