Brian Goodman still has a bullet in his skull. As a young thug in South Boston, Goodman — who cowrote, directed, and plays a supporting role in What Doesn’t Kill You — stole from drug dealers, abused booze and cocaine, and dodged rounds of ammunition (though he once got hit three times, in both arms and the back of the head). In 1994, after a nearly five-year prison term for a mayhem conviction, he began auditioning for bit parts in local indie films, then graduated to bigger Hollywood fare — he played James Franco’s father in 2006’s Annapolis and one of the nefarious Others on ABC’s Lost.
As his showbiz career took off, Goodman started to wonder if his troubled life story could become a movie. ”I bought this 37-cent notepad and started writing out of pure boredom. ‘Interior: Coffee shop,’ like that,” recalls Goodman, 44. ”A month later I had this script written out. I had my sister type it up for me.” And it wasn’t just Goodman’s sister who pitched in. Beantown pal Donnie Wahlberg helped develop the script, and Mark Ruffalo — Goodman’s costar in the 2001 prison drama The Last Castle — agreed to play him on screen. (Goodman himself portrays a neighborhood crime boss.)
Now 14 years sober, Goodman says his only partners in crime these days are golfing buddies like Samuel L. Jackson and James Caan. ”I got a call yesterday from a friend of mine doing life, wondering if I could send him a money order,” he says. ”To be able to show that world on film and not have to worry about cops knocking on my door, it’s a good feeling.”