Bro Jackson’s writing bullpen gets homogeneous. We all know sports, like pop culture, we’re all pretty smart and we’re also incredibly dumb. Alongside guests like Footballguys.com’s Sigmund Bloom, we organized a fantasy draft of our favorite movie characters and executed it via email over the course of two glorious weeks in June.
Before we were able to start, there was intricate deliberation about the settings of the draft. Chief among the arguments, would the choice of a character include all the performances of that character or could they be carved out? Could one person take Sean Connery‘s James Bond and another take the Daniel Craig Bond? We ruled that no, you could not carve out different portrayals of the same character. If you took Bond, you got Lazenby and Dalton right along with Connery and Craig.
Maybe it’s because I’m kind of a curmudgeon that I was cranky to see Marty McFly go with the first overall pick. I mean, isn’t Doc Brown a much richer character than Marty? 1 A case can even be made for George McFly. Both Christopher Lloyd and Crispin Glover, the actors portraying those characters, certainly made far stronger, more specific character choices than Michael J. Fox did with Marty, who essentially (logically, agreeably, assumingly at Robert Zemeckis‘ request) played himself. My friend Amber and I actually had this debate as a result of my own first round pick: 2 wouldn’t a pick be more defensible if the actor’s portrayal of that character be something very far away from who they really are? Because then it’s a *character* and not just a guy. Is a character iconic as it is written? Or as it is performed? It’s a fair debate you could have about any number of the choices made in this round. 3
I was happily pleased that that only one really recent movie character (Gollum, ironically a very old character in literature) went in the first round–almost all of the rest 4 come from the 20th Century. I believe fairly strongly that you can only judge the quality of a movie character over time. A forgettable movie character gets mentally pooped out pretty quick. A quality character sticks to your mental ribs.
I was sad that only one woman went in this round, and even then she was played by a man 5 but I can’t complain too loudly, as I didn’t help my own cause there (wait for next round though). It also seems as if “cable replayability” was a factor in most GM’s choices. With only a few exceptions, most of these characters are from movies you can see playing on basic cable 40 times a year. Another debate–did those characters get picked because they’re more accessible or do they play those movies so often because those characters are just so damn great? Then again, cable metrics would boost Hitch to the top of the heap.
So many questions, so many debates, so many bad choices. Marty McFly notwithstanding, 6 it was an excellent first round. Let’s meet our contestants.
Your general managers
Fantastico, Fantasy Douche, Eddie Strait, Blake Hurtik, Deion Moskal, Kat Gotsick, Rumford Johnny, Ramon Ramirez, Robert Rich, Chris Marler, David Kallison, Ken Griggs, Josh Klein, Sigmund Bloom, Erin Payton, Courtney Cox
#1 Eddie Strait: Marty McFly, “Back to the Future”
If trades had been allowed, I would’ve traded down to acquire more picks. Marty was my guy and he definitely wouldn’t have been there when my second round pick came up, so I had to take him, much to the delight of the “Star Wars” contingent. So why Marty? Well, “Back to the Future” is one of the first movies I remember seeing. My dad has an airtight rotation of movies he’ll rewind and run back, so I’ve seen the “BTTF” trilogy more times than I can count. Marty’s obviously not as big a “character” as Doc, but as a five-year-old, Marty seemed like someone I could theoretically grow up to become. Everyone in the first round is a great pick and but if there’s a trump card to be played, it’s this: Marty is the only character in this draft that has a signature shoe. Get on his level.
#2 David Kallison: Han Solo, “Star Wars” trilogy
Once McFly went No. 1, I pumped my fist in an embarrassingly ecstatic fashion. I looked around the room for others to share in my glory with, but then I remembered that I was alone in my room pumping my fist. Such is the life of a “Star Wars” fan. Honestly, it was difficult not to take all my picks from George Lucas‘ masterpiece trilogy (I consider the prequels apocryphal and do not acknowledge their existence).
Although Luke Skywalker was ostensibly the main hero in “Star Wars: A New Hope” (for the non-nerds, that’s the first one), Han Solo was by far the coolest character. Duh. While Luke was whining about power converters and accidentally macking on his sister, Solo was busy being a cocksure intergalactic smuggler who shoots first. Way before it was a thing, Han Solo had SWAG. He didn’t need the Force, he didn’t need a lightsaber, all he needed was a blaster, a ship, and that killer-looking vest. Without Han, Darth Vader would’ve blasted Luke out of the sky in the Death Star run, leaving the planet-annihilating space station intact and the rebellion destroyed before it even started. Oh, and did I forget to mention? Solo made the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs. Under. 12. Parsecs. Case closed.
#3 Josh Klein: Keyser Soze, “Usual Suspects”
I had an entire blurb written for this before my girlfriend pointed out that my blurb was spoiling the ending of what is both my favorite ending and movie of all time. So what I will say is this: If you’ve seen “The Usual Suspects,” you understand why Keyser Soze is so awesome. If you haven’t, stop reading this, go to your local Hollywood Video (those are still around, right?), rent “The Usual Suspects,” have your mind blown, come back to this column, and try to figure out why Soze wasn’t the No. 1 pick.
OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD I forgot John McClane. WHY DID WE DO THIS DRAFT WHILE I WAS DRUNK? ARRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHH.
#4 Chris Marler: Forrest Gump, “Forrest Gump”
I may not be a smart man, but I know what a good first round pick is. Forrest Gump was an easy choice for a number of reasons. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. I too forgot about John McClane. Regardless, I was pleased with my pick. He’s a character unlike any other in movie history, as he’s able to simplify all the complexities of his life as well as the historical events during it. Few movie characters drop more evocative lines than Gump. And he’s as dynamic as they come so I can run a lot through Gump: war hero, ping pong champion, seafood impresario, millionaire, not to mention an All-American under Bear Bryant.
#5 Ramon Ramirez: Dr. Peter Venkman, “Ghostbusters”
Bill Murray is the coolest actor of the last 35 years. This pick was about toasting Murray’s iconic oeuvre, first and foremost–from portraying Hunter S. Thompson in “Where the Buffalo Roam” through the feverishly compelling Wes Anderson collabs and the less interesting dramedies of the aughts that rip off Anderson’s Chill Murray deadpan formula (“Broken Flowers,” “Lost in Translastion”). It’s also about Murray’s legend as the most engaging baby boomer at every party. At his most memorable, the character becomes Murray–cracking jokes in hot situations and leading the peanut gallery not through intimidation or by example, but because he’s so cool under fire and everyone respects that. I’d argue his best comedic performance came courtesy of “Groundhog Day,” but Dr. Venkman wins because he wore a Proton Pack.
#6 Kat Gotsick: Wooderson, “Dazed and Confused”
I watched “Dazed and Confused,” a picaresque account of a night in the life of a group of small town Texas youths, with my younger brother. During it, he and I spent a fair amount of time elbowing each other and matching the characters in the movie to the characters we had grown up with in our own small town. This movie RESONATED with us, and no character moreso than David Wooderson, 7 the movie’s post-grad godfather. Matthew McConaughey’s work in this movie marked the first time I ever thought he might go the Johnny Depp route instead of the Andrew Shue route. Wooderson was an interesting, unconventional choice for McConaughey and it showed he could play more than just a handsome face on the other side of an ingenue.
Remarkable Wooderson moment: Just before he utters his instantly classic “That’s what I love about high school girls. I get older, they stay the same age.” line, he actually voices some really poignant small town ambivalence–a desire to go back to school, get an education, maybe settle down . . . but that ultimately, it’s probably easier not to.
#7 Ken Griggs: The Dude/Jeffrey Lebowski, “The Big Lebowski”
This was ostensibly a no-brainer choice; however, I had three characters here that were neck and neck as my top-three: the Dude, William Munny, and Rick Blaine. All three are my favorite characters of all-time. I opted to go with the Dude, hoping that one of the other two would fall to me. It worked, though losing out on Munny hurt my soul. What we have in “The Big Lebowski” is a parody of a classic noir detective film. Fashioned after such movies as “The Big Sleep” and “Out of the Past” and from Raymond Chandler novels, the characters in this movie are, to say the least, colorful. The Dude, according to the Coen Brothers, was based on two different men. The movie has taken on such a ridiculous cult following that besides spawning college classes on everything from militarism to feminism, it has also spawned an online religion, Dudeism. Though I would agree there’s a great many ways to watch this movie, I think it’s best in some cases not to read too much into a movie’s meaning. The Dude is tossed into a unique situation and happens to represent the everyman, “takin’ her easy for all us sinners.” He’s been described as Sisyphus (bowling as a metaphor for rolling a rock up a hill) and Christ (he is in the “cruciform” position twice, as a random Atlantic article put it). We can forgive him for lusting after a little cash because he’s so damn lovable. And at seven overall, I think I got a steal.
#8 Rumford Johnny: “Cool Hand” Luke, “Cool Hand Luke”
Fifty eggs, Ol’ Luke weeping stone faced as he sang “Plastic Jesus” for his deceased mother. Before there was Andy Dufresne, there was Luke . . . the gold standard of the cool rogue who didn’t have two shits to give. The personification of the misguided soul, the caged bird who couldn’t be held captive.
#9 Fantasy Douche: William Munny, “Unforgiven”
“Unforgiven” covers just a few days of Will Munny’s life, but the movie does tell us the following things about the character: he’s killed women and children, he’s done worse things than killing women and children (we know this based on the testimony of his only friend), and he is “a known thief and murderer, a man of notoriously vicious and intemperate disposition.” Based on Munny’s own dialogue which includes the lines “deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it” and “we all got it comin’ kid” we can guess that Munny’s worldview doesn’t include a notion of karmic retribution in this life. But despite these things that the film offers of Munny, it’s also clear that he has some sense of morality. He undertakes the murder for hire assignment not for himself, but because he believes his children deserve better than he’s giving them. Munny also spends the movie’s final moments avenging the murder and torture of his one friend Ned Logan, which leads to this exchange between Gene Hackman’s Little Bill Daggett and Clint Eastwood’s Munny:
Little Bill: “Well, sir, you are a cowardly son of a bitch! You just shot an unarmed man!”
Will Munny: “Well, he should have armed himself if he’s going to decorate his saloon with my friend.”
The issue of morality is central to Munny’s existence as a character, but “Unforgiven” doesn’t make it easy for us to figure out what we’re supposed to think of morality–or Munny for that matter.
#10 Blake Hurtik: Andy Dufresne, “Shawshank Redemption”
I know what you’re thinking: what about Morgan Freeman‘s silky-voiced narrator Red? Guys, Andy Dufresne was the glue. Red was just another wise old sage jailbird until Andy the falsely convicted banker rolled into Shawshank. All Andy did was reform the education system within the soul-crushing walls of the prison by starting a kick-ass new library, helped fellow inmates earn GEDs, laundered money for the warden only to magnificently fuck him over with it later, play sweet, sweet music for ears that hadn’t heard it in years, and then LITERALLY CRAWLED THROUGH A MILE OF SHIT to escape and start a new life on a Mexican beach with his ol’ pal Red. Also, Andy Dufresne made Tim Robbins, who generally comes off in real life as insufferable, look like a guy who you’d want to be friends with. No small feat.
#11 Deion Moskal: John McClane, “Die Hard”
I couldn’t believe that Klein had passed on him. I knew that once McClane was taken he would explode in a fit of rage like Karl did upon learning that McClane had killed his brother. The brilliance of early John McClane was that he was essentially an every man reluctantly thrust into saving 30-plus hostages. Bruce Willis delivers his snarky one-liners much more effectively than Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton tried to with their iterations of James Bond.
#12 Courtney Cox: Atticus Finch, “To Kill A Mockingbird”
I’m going to put this out there right now. I was the guy in your fantasy draft that didn’t show up and auto-drafted his life away. 8 However, I don’t think I would have been smart enough to draft Atticus Finch, a literary character ahead of his time, played by the very handsome Gregory Peck. Before I saw the movie, I read the book and was amazed at the courage Finch must have had to stand up to the institutional discrimination he witnessed everyday. The movie, of course, doesn’t stand up to the book, but the character’s importance to the themes of justice, equality and the power (or lack thereof) of one person stands the test of time.
#13 Fantastico: Gollum, “Lord of the Rings”
Just your typical love story. Man falls in love with a ring. Ring possesses man. Man turns into creature from ring’s power. Creature man spends decades following the ring around. Ring eventually kills creature man. A timeless and precious tale.
#14 Robert Rich: Tyler Durden, “Fight Club”
Brad Pitt is the quintessential movie star. He’s rich and beautiful. There’s really no need for him to actually be a good actor. And yet, he is. He brings Chuck Palahniuk‘s greatest character to life in mesmerizing fashion. He gets straight ripped to play the alter ego of a man so insomniatic and disillusioned with his life that he starts a club wherein people beat the shit out of each other. He is charming, terrifying, beautiful, sexy, and disgusting all at once. He is not a beautiful snowflake. He is the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the universe. And he’s great at it.
#15 Erin Payton: Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels, “Tootsie”
I got quite a bit of guff from the Bros for making this pick in the first round. I couldn’t believe it was still up for grabs. Not only is it an Oscar-nominated performance, but I also got two characters for the price of one. Michael Dorsey is such a pathetic jerk in the beginning of the film that it all the more engrossing to watch him become a better man as a woman. And Dorothy’s zingers are legendary (‘Shame on you, you macho shithead’). I might also be partial to these characters because my seventh grade yearbook picture was unofficially voted worst in our class and was dubbed Tootsie by my loving family. So I understand that beneath an overly teased, curly head of hair and oversized glasses is a vulnerable man trying to get out.
#16 Sigmund Bloom: Anton Chigurh, “No Country For Old Men”
I could have just drafted Death (“Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey,” “The Seventh Seal,” etc.) or “The Terminator,” but I’m particularly fond of Javier Bardem‘s (and Cormac McCarthy‘s and the Coen Bros.) take on the Grim Reaper. An assist should go to his array of weapons, haircut, pallor, and West Texas, which seems like exactly the place where Death would have a P.O. Box. Self-surgery, a compound fracture, boot heel streaks on the floor . . . Chigurh fills every scene with a feeling of dread, and yet Bardem can still make you laugh during encounters with regular Texas folk. When you stare into the abyss, Anton Chigurh stares back at you.
- Eddie himself admits as much below. ↩
- Matthew McConaughey/David Wooderson. ↩
- Venkman/Murray, McClane/Willis, Solo/Ford, Eastwood/Munny ↩
- Anton Chigurh is the exception. ↩
- Dorothy Michaels/Dustin Hoffman. ↩
- I know, I know, I’m wrong. ↩
- In our hometown, the Wooderson character was named Troy Hogge. ↩
- Ed.’s note: Cox auto-drafted the highest available hero on AFI’s Top 100 heroes and villains list. ↩