What's The Deal With Howard In 'Cloverfield'?

I've never understand people who seek out movie spoilers. Like many, I'm massively spoiler-phobic, especially around the release of a film that's purposely stingy with making details public, like 10 Cloverfield Lane. Why ruin the surprise? The movie's very existence already came as a fun shock. 10 Cloverfield Lane was developed by J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot Productions under two different code names in order to keep the connection to another Bad Robot film quiet. Monster movies fans didn't find out that there was even going to be a sequel of sorts to 2008's found footage Godzilla homage Cloverfield until just two months before its release. The sparse trailer introduced the movie's three main characters: survivalist Howard (John Goodman) and his bunker guests (prisoners?) Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.) and Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), as well as a massive, unseen threat to their safety. But does Howard's growing paranoia mean that there's a threat inside the bunker as well? Is 10 Cloverfield Lane 's Howard a good guy or a bad guy, their savior or their captor?

From what you can glean from the stars and filmmakers so far, it's truly unclear what his motivations are. In the interview below, Goodman attests to Howard's status as a character whose innate goodness or badness is difficult to assess. ("He's got a little loose wiring in his head.") He does say, however, that Howard very much has his own reasons for living his life under extreme security. His fears make it difficult for the three roommates to establish much of a happy, cooperative arrangement. Goodman says, "Any relationship between the two of them, Howard is going to view with a very bad eye. He's very paranoid to begin with, so he doesn't want a confederacy between the two of them."

Beyond Howard's state of mind, there's the very process by which Michelle finds herself in the living space. She wakes up in Howard's bunker after being involved in a car accident and is therefore there against her will. Does Howard have a right to detain her, even if he believes it's for her own good? Watch the rest of that interview below to hear Goodman praise for his two young co-stars.

Producer Abrams was thrilled to have Goodman on board for this role, particularly because Howard deviates from the characters the actor usually inhabits. "But I’ve never seen him be this guy," Abrams told Empire. "I’ve never seen him be terrifying." Abrams also praised the entire ensemble's ability to create "increasingly unbearable tension," underlining the assumption that it isn't all sunshine and rainbows in that bunker, even before the Cloverfield Monster 2.0 arrives.

It sounds like 10 Cloverfield Lane is driven largely by these questions. In an interview with Fox 5 DC, Goodman talked about the specific pains he took to hold back his performance and let the audience make their own guesses about who exactly Howard is. "I guess it's just concentrating on what's in front of you, what the particular scene is," Goodman said. "That's a big acting challenge for me now is just, acting-wise, keeping my big mouth shut."

Image: Paramount Pictures