Ginnifer Goodwin in WALK THE LINE

The first time I saw actress Ginnifer Goodwin in anything, she was cutting the ribbon on New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World. Shortly after that, she was all over my TV screen as my wife and kids binge-watched three seasons worth of Once Upon a Time on Netflix. But it wasn’t until this week that I caught her in the movie that I should have seen her in first: Walk the Line.

I meant to see the Johnny Cash biopic when it was first released in 2005, and I’ve had it on my Amazon wishlist and in various other places I’ve kept track of movies to see for years and years. But it wasn’t until we got HBO Go recently and I added it to my Watchlist there that the film re-entered my imagination.

I’ve been watching it during my workouts over the past few days, and I’m so sad it’s taken me this long to get to it. I’m especially sad, given my affection for Goodwin’s talent, that I hadn’t seen her in this role before. She plays Cash’s first wife, Vivian, and I don’t think there’s any tougher role in this film than hers.

Think about all she has to do as the first wife of a guy who we all know is going to fall in love with someone else by the end of the flick, the first wife we’re rooting to see removed from the picture so that Cash can be with his one, true love. Think about how easy it would be to play Viv as nothing but a shrew. But she doesn’t. There’s a deep, human pain and subtlety to her performance. Watch her patience and her love crumble, then come back together, then crumble again. She loves that man, wants things to work, and tries to make them work for far longer than she probably should. It is an amazing and heartbreaking performance.

Everyone else is good—even Reese Witherspoon, who I’ve long harbored a grudge against, thanks to some offhand comment my former idol Kevin Smith once made—but Goodwin as Vivian was something else. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a great supporting actor, but I think it’s worth a watch (or re-watch) just to see what she does with that part.