‘The Conners’ Star Michael Fishman Talks Directing John Goodman

by Allison Hambrick

The Conners actor Michael Fishman opened up about what it’s like to direct icon John Goodman after years of acting alongside him.

“I never take for granted how amazing it is to stand next to him every day and to play,” Fishman told Movieweb. “And now to direct him! And to get to participate and occasionally suggest things or add an action or add something to add depth to something. John’s a master. I mean, it is watching a legend who is masterful at what he does day in and day out. So you set very limited parameters and you trust him to trust his instincts if you’re really smart. You don’t tell him everything. You let him show you what he’s already thinking because he’s just so gifted.”

Fishman, who starred on Roseanne since its first season, was quick to praise the capability of his costars. In particular, his directorial style tends to let “legends” Goodman Laurie Metcalfe have fun in their roles. After all, they have been playing these characters for 30 years.

“You know, it’s almost… are you smart enough to get out of the way and not let ego play any role in it?” the star of The Conners explained. “Just let them show you what they’re thinking and then fine-tune or make small suggestions here or there where you think it benefits, and learn to be collaborative. Because the only thing you can do to mess it up is get in the way.”

As a result of his time on the show, Fishman is in a unique position. He has an understanding of what makes The Conners work that others wouldn’t.

Fishman Talks Roseanne Callbacks on The Conners

“One thing I asked John to do in this episode is a callback to something that we did in some of the early years of the show,” said Fishman. “He had reactions behind a guest at the house which is something he used to do a lot of, so some of it is just coming back into some of the histories of the character and knowing the history of the character.”

For Fishman, the best teacher is the past. Drawing on the history of Roseanne helps make The Conners feel natural. Authenticity matters to the actor.

“When I direct, I go back and look at old episodes,” he continued. “I want to make sure I’m pulling the right tone and combining where we are now with where we were then. You know, as the director it’s important to have kind of a holistic view of the project and its history and where it comes from. And it’s very important that we honor that because that’s what carries forward.”

“People have a 30-year connection with us,” The Conners star explained. “People have almost a lifetime of interaction, so it’s gotta ring authentic.”