On last night’s show, Paul and I continued our countdown of the Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture with #s 50-41. Be sure to listen to the show for our full run-downs, but here are some choice excerpts:
PAUL: Toothless (How to Train Your Dragon)
In my opinion, the character’s progression throughout the film is pretty spot-on with what feels like natural behavior, from the frightened, wounded animal in the cove to the trusting “pet” that accepts help from his human to ultimately the loyal friend and protector.
AJ: Rick Blaine (Casablanca)
Humphrey Bogart is one of the greatest actors of all time, and no role better defines his appeal than that of expatriate café owner Rick Blaine.
PAUL: Proinsias Cassidy (Preacher)
He’s kind of gross, a bit obnoxious, and has a habit of biting large, bloody chunks out of inbred rednecks, but he’s a great guy to have at your back, what with the super strength and nigh invulnerability. And he’s just so much goddamn fun.
AJ: Professor Severus Snape (Harry Potter series)
Throughout the series, Snape either allies himself with the forces of good or is forced into protecting Harry, but remains just as sour and pre-disposed to hating Harry. We eventually learn more of his past–his former allegiance with Voldemort, his past with Harry’s parents–and more and more we wonder, What are Snape’s true motives? Is he a hero or is he a villain?
PAUL: Flycatcher (Fables)
There’s so much about this character that is designed specifically for me to love him. He is the “geek” of the series, thin and gangly and addicted to comic books.
AJ: Mr. Blonde (Reservoir Dogs)
Tarantino often toes the line between the comedic and the horrifying, and Mr. Blonde is one of the most potent examples in all his films.
PAUL: Aragorn (The Lord of the Rings series)
I’ll just say that this is the character that began my adolescent obsession with the slightly roguish, ranger-class fighters. I spent more than a little time in my younger days playing some variation on this character in dozens of different role-playing games.
AJ: Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood)
Daniel cannot allow anyone to succeed but himself, nor let anyone feel that they have any power over him. To his brother, he confesses that he hates most people. He is a cruel man, driven by selfishness and paranoia.
PAUL: Truman Burbank (The Truman Show)
This character was just so damned identifiable for me. His reactions as he started to piece everything together were not only believable but also heartbreaking.
AJ: Mia Wallace (Pulp Fiction)
This was the role that shot Uma Thurman to stardom, and for good reason. She is bold, sexy, disarmingly kitten-ish. She carves out a unique screen presence, giving one of the best performances in a movie brimming with career-defining work.
PAUL: William Miller (Almost Famous)
This young kid manages to hold his own somehow with the dueling egos of rock stars, the sexual advances of the Band-Aides, and of course falls head-over-heels in love with Penny Lane, just like the rest of us.
AJ: Lucifer Morningstar (The Sandman)
I love Gaiman’s conception of Lucifer; instead of a demonic, pitchfork-waving caricature, or the slick Jack Nicholson/Al Pacino kind of devil, Gaiman’s Lucifer is beautiful, angelic, and tired of governing Hell.
PAUL: The Boxer (“The Boxer”)
The final verse references a boxer, a character that fights against every blow the world deals him and continues on through the pain.
AJ: Norman Bates (Psycho)
Throughout the film, we watch Norman try to cover up Marion’s murder and protect Mother, then we see him as Mother kill those who get too close. These two identities are acting independently of one another, both toward the same goal.
PAUL: Chris Knight (Real Genius)
Val Kilmer has had a lot of great film roles in his career, but as God is my witness, I will now and forever think of him as Chris Knight from 1985’s Real Genius.
AJ: Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce (M*A*S*H)
A wisecracking, womanizing surgeon, Hawkeye is the show’s unlikely hero, sort of a Marx brother with a scalpel.
PAUL: Agent Smith (The Matrix series)
His speech to the captured Morpheus about humanity being a virus is like my damned life’s philosophy.
AJ: Michael Corleone (The Godfather series)
The evolution of Michael Corleone from good-natured Marine to cold-hearted Mafia Don, as played by Al Pacino, is one of the finest pieces of American movie acting you will ever see.
PAUL: Fox Mulder (The X-Files)
Fox Mulder was an intriguing mix of boyish enthusiasm and haunted, driven determination.
AJ: Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye)
I think that all alienated youths have that moment where they read The Catcher in the Rye and think that nothing else has ever come this close to describing how they feel. For me, it was around 14 or 15, and it’s still a book I could return to in an instant.