Empire Magazine's "100 Greatest Movie Characters" (2009)
Why He's On The List: To hell with the Emperor - he wasn't even around for most of the action. Darth Vader is, to every child of Star Wars, the supreme badass in the galaxy. He is everything that scares you as a child, cutting a huge, imposing figure, wearing doom-laden black, and breathing through some kind of ominous respirator - surely enough to give any person in their formative years the willies. The masterstroke behind Vader's design is that mask. The cold, expressionless cover is difficult to read, and makes for a much scarier experience than a human face can give. Having the bass tones of James Earl Jones doesn't hurt either. The very definition of simple and effective, something tells us he'll stay near the top of this list for a long time... a long time.
Famous Quote: "I find your lack of faith disturbing."
Finest Hour: His entrance. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: I'm an agent of choas."
Why He's On The List: "Some men," remarks Michael Caine's wise old butler, Alfred, "just want to watch the world burn." Which is about as succinct a summary of Heath Ledger's Joker as you can get. There is no rhyme to him, no reason - just an appetite for anarchy, for chaos and for destruction that marks him out as the most terrifying screen psycho in years. Jack Nicholson's Joker was, arguably, even more psychotic than Ledger's, but where he played the white-faced, red-lipped, green-haired clown for laughs, Ledger's aim was to slip, insidiously, under your skin, with his flickering serpent's tongue, penchant for close-up kills and dead, cold eyes. Ledger's Joker is an unstoppable force of nature, and a wonderful testament to the late actor's talent.
Finest Hour: Gatecrashing the Mob meeting, and showcasing a magic trick - "I'm going to make this pencil disappear!" - that most definitely hasn't been sanctioned by the Magic Circle. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid."
Why He's On The List: As Jesus Christ proved on more than one occasion, carpenters can make for great heroes. And so it proved for George Lucas when he cast jobbing joiner Harrison Ford as Star Wars' swaggering scoundrel, Han Solo. In any other hands, Solo would have been simply an arrogant, puffed-up jerk, but Ford brought so much charm and laconic cool (not to mention that bitching waistcoat) to Lucas' *beep* dialogue that real man Han steals the show - and the girl - from the movie's nominal hero, the boychild Luke Skywalker. How cool is Han Solo? He's the only non-Jedi in the series to spark up a lightsaber, and it doesn't look out of place in his hands. Now that's cool.
Finest Hour: Han shoots first. Han shoots first. Han shoots first. Han shoots first. Han shoots first. Han shoots! ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I do wish we could chat longer, but I'm having an old friend for dinner."
Why He's On The List: A sociopath so notorious he's kept like a trophy by the prison that holds him, it's certainly not a well-kept, unimposing man you're expecting to see at the end of that dank corridor - but that's all in Thomas Harris' sublime original material. What Hopkins brings is that eerie stillness, that unnerving sense of cold, calm calculation. This is because our view of him, other than through the glass, is shaped by stories of his notoriety. All his Lecter need do therefore, is wait for you to make a mistake - and he has a lot of patience. More pure animal than human, it's never demonstrated better than through the stories of his cannibal tendencies. In Lambs, Lecter's character is dependent on a good foil, and therefore owes a significant debt to the similarly well-written Clarice. What we benefit from as an audience then, is a beautifully balanced, carefully built relationshipbetween the two, before the story kicks up a notch and the unthinkable happens...
Finest Hour: His blood-soaked escape. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "It's not the years, honey - it's the mileage."
Why He's On The List: Hands up any who was ten or under when they first saw Raiders, and didn't want to be an archaeologist afterwards? Liars. The poster promised the return of great adventure, and they delivered. Of course it would have all been worthless without a great character holding it all together, but boy did they nail that one. You all know the Tom Selleck story by now, but that doesn't make trying to picture anyone but Ford in the role today any easier. So why does Indy work? Well there's no secret to the formula: charming everyman on the side of the angels (quite literally, in this case), involved in high adventure, always triumphing over the odds - not without significant obstacles to overcome - and easy to hate bad guys. Add a laconic sense of humour and a lack of appreciation from those he works for, and you've got the ideal hero. All you need after that is a brilliant script and a production team to match...
Finest Hour: After being thrown through the windshield of a truck and dragged under it, fighting his way back into the cabin, Jones finally gives the Nazi driver a taste of his own medicine. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Yeah, well, that's just, like... your opinion, man."
Why He's On The List: His Dudeness, Duder, El Duderino, if you're not into the whole brevity thing - Jeff Bridges has had a lot of great roles in his career, but does anyone (apart from his Mum, who apparently wasn't too impressed) love any of his characters as much as The Dude? To have this guy at the centre of a Raymond Chandler-esque kidnapping/rug theft plot is so totally inspired, you almost can't fathom it upon first viewing - that is superb writing. The story goes that The Dude is actually based on a real person - two people, actually. The first is a fella by the name of Jeff Dowd, who drinks White Russians and was a member of the Seattle Seven. Second is a guy named Pete Exline, who amongst other things, really did have a rug that tied the room together. But from wherever he's devised, there's nothing like him, and that's something to celebrate: the Dude abides. Don't know about you, but we take comfort in that.
Finest Hour: Paying for a discounted, past use-by carton of milk with a cheque. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Get away from her, you bitch!"
Why She's On The List: The highest-placing female character on our list, Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley is, of course, the heroine of Alien - and though Sigourney Weaver, then an unknown, does a sterling job there, it's still essentially a slasher film stereotype: scream a lot, run about a bit, show us your knickers. It's only in Aliens, under the watchful eye of Jim Cameron, that Ripley comes to layered life. Initially a nervous wreck, her life torn apart by the xenomorph, Ripley is reborn as a warrior when her maternal instinct kicks in and prompts her to go through hell to save surrogate daugher, Newt. It's a dream role for Weaver, who handles both Ripley's softer side and kick-ass demeanour with considerable aplomb.
Finest Hour: The Alien Queen, a stowaway on the Sulaco, is inches away from killing Newt, when a docking door opens, to reveal; Ripley, in a power loader, with a determined expression on her face. Game on. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "A man that doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."
Why He's On The List: Although he's the title character (and Brando is top billed, naturally), it's often a surprise for newcomers to The Godfather to find that Don Vito isn't the primary focus of the film. It's an epic ensemble piece, but it's his youngest son Michael who's the spine of the story. Still, Vito is the one who everybody loves most, as the family man so honourable and dedicated that somehow nobody cares that he's the head of a massive criminal empire. Maybe it's something to do with feeling safe. Brando gives one of his trademark 'performances of a lifetime' (he gave about a half dozen of those, by our count), and there's a nice parallel in the role with the 'old man' providing love and guidance to this collection of next generation stars (Pacino, Caan, Cazale, Shire and Duvall), but it's always, always his show. Don by name, Don by nature.
Finest Hour: After his retirement, advising Michael of how his enemies will move around him. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Auric Goldfinger. Sounds like a French nail varnish."
Why He's On The List: With so many incarnations to choose from, it's a wonder the Bond camp wasn't hampered by a split vote, but that's clearly not a problem. Despite the huge surge in popularity for Daniel Craig's reboot, it seems you're all a bunch of purists at heart, opting for the Connery classic. What's left to say about this British institution? It's all here - suave? Check. Quips? Check. Gadgets? Check. Etc.? Check.
Finest Hour: Removing the wetsuit to reveal a tuxedo. Smoove. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Yippee-ki-yay, *beep*
Why He's on the List: The role that turned TV's Bruce Willis into a movie megastar, John McClane had to be one hell of a character to stop Hans Gruber from swallowing the movie whole. Luckily, he was - a foul-mouthed, wisecracking, no-nonsense New York cop with an itchy trigger finger, an aversion to Eurotrash terrorists, and a never-say-die spirit. McClane may be hard as nails, but he also has more depth and dimensions than was expected of '80s action heroes.
Finest Hour: His emotional breakdown over the blower to Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald Veljohnsen). Hard to imagine Arnie doing the same... ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Master is our friend! / You don't have any friends; nobody likes you."
Why He's on the List: Similarly to Yoda, our first fascination with Gollum is with his appearance and his strange speech pattern (as well as being a digitally imposed character), but as the second instalment of Lord Of The Rings progresses, it becomes apparent that he's not one person, but two. It's all galvanised by one fascinating, heartbreaking, classic scene, but Serkis' performance continues to consistently display the demented halfling's highly volatile state.
Finest Hour: His two personalities arguing over Frodo's sincerity and fate. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I'll be back."
Why He's on the List: In an act of latent irony so thick that even Alanis could appreciate it, O.J. Simpson turned down the role of the titular cold-blooded, glove-wearing killer robot in James Cameron's cheapo sci-fi, prompting the director to turn to an Austrian bodybuilder. Best move he ever made, for - thanks to a combo of Big Arnie's implacability (he taught himself not to blink when gunfire was going off), that granite-hewn Austrian accent which invested sparse dialogue with a sense of genuine menace and, of course, that physique - he made The Terminator utterly terrifying and convincingly unstoppable. Hard to imagine Cameron being King of the World, or Arnie King of California, otherwise.
Finest Hour: The cop shop massacre, during which Arnie's T-800 shows that he can't be reasoned with or bargained with. He doesn't feel pain, or pity, or remorse. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "A) You can never go too far. B) If I get caught, it is not going to be by a guy like that."
Why He's on the List: Perhaps the least angry voice of teen rebellion you'll ever come across, Ferris has no great obstacles in life (he's from a wealthy family, and his biggest gripe is that he was given a birthday computer instead of a car), but his quest is universal - to have a good time, and to do it now while he's young. Broderick's challenge is to keep what could be a malcontent brat likeable, and he achieves this in spades. It's a role he's never managed to top, but if you're going to be remembered, why not for something as awesome as this?
Finest Hour: Performing Twist & Shout on a Chicago parade float in front of thousands of people. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I'm going to show these people what you don't want to see. I'm going to them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders and boundaries. A world where anything is possible."
Why He's On The List: In your average work of drama, it's pretty much a given that the central character has to have a decent arc - y'know, Hero's Journey and all that. Hence the success of Neo, or Thomas Anderson within the Matrix, a man who wakes from the world within a world, and rises to take control. Mentor Morpheus even believes he is 'The One' - classic stuff, which went straight into the zeitgeist.
Finest Hour: Showing us the Matrix in its true form, and at the same time stopping in mid-air bullets which have just been fired at him. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I am an exception thief, Mrs. McClane - and since I'm moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite."
Why He's on the List: Acclaimed British stage actor Alan Rickman hadn't made a movie before Die Hard. With all due respect to his wonderful career since, he might as well have stopped there, for there's no topping Hans Gruber. There are scarier villains, there may even be more iconic villains, but when it comes to slickness, suaveness, and coolness, Gruber has 'em licked. Endlessly quotable, Gruber's mind is as sharp as his suit and neat goatee - and the biggest testimony to Rickman's charismatic performance is that part of you wants him to get away with it.
Finest Hour: The moment when, after hours of hard work, the Nakatomi vault opens, and Gruber is bathed heavenly light as the fruits of his labour appear. Of course, two hours later, he's sidewalk squelch, but never mind. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I'm a mushroom cloud-layin' *beep* *beep*
Why He's on the List: Killing people for a living shouldn't be cool - we know that. But whether it's the hair or the scripture quoting or the endless badinage with Travolta's Vincent Vega, or just Jackson's natural air, this is a supremely cool professional assassin. Plus he spends a good portion of his time in Tarantino's masterpiece discussing his thoughts on leaving 'the life' and reforming his character, so he's not all bad.
Finest Hour: Delivering Ezekiel 25:17 - "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee. " ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get."
Why He's On The List: Good to see Gump so high here, showing that - despite the opprobrium attracted by the movie itself - Forrest hasn't yet been cut down to size. A true one-off, the genius of Tom Hanks' Oscar-winning performance was to show that Gump was more than an idiot, and was instead blessed with a heart so big it made up for deficiencies in other areas. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I don't feel I have to wipe everybody out, Tom. Just my enemies."
Why He's On The List: The first film is dominated by Brando, but the as-good-possibly-even-better sequel is where Pacino really clicks into high gear with his characterisation of the mafia Don. Charting Michael's complete moral demise, it's a devastating, flawless ride with a gut-punch of an ending. How the actor gets sympathy out of the audience by the end is a mystery to all but the masters, but amazing characterisation in the screenplay is probably a start.
Finest Hour: The look of pure rage on his face when wife Kay tells him she had an abortion. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope."
Why He's On The List: In the Stephen King novella upon which Shawshank is based, Ellis 'Red' Redding is a red-haired Irishman. Yet that didn't matter a jot to Frank Darabont - for him, Morgan Freeman was the perfect Red, and it's hard to disagree. Red is not only the narrator of Shawshank (perfect for Freeman's mellifluous tones) but the character that is truly changed by Tim Robbins' Andy from an institutionalised schemer to a man who, finally, dares to believe in hope. He's an integral part of a relationship that remains the finest on-screen depiction of true friendship.
Finest Hour: The look on Freeman's face, and the smile in his eyes, as a paroled Red boards the bus that will take him to Mexico, and to his friend, Andy. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "When I see a grown man chasing a woman down an alleyway with a butcher knife and a hard-on, I figure he's not out collecting for the Red Cross."
Why He's On The List: Only Clint could make a guy like Harry Callahan cool. A borderline fascist, with supply teacher chic and hair so big it shows up on Google Earth, Callahan is a shoot first, ask questions never kinda guy, a bit of a pervert and a massive racist, to boot. But as Eastwood deploys his laser-beam squint, massive gun and whispers his tough-guy dialogue, Harry becomes more than Dirty. He becomes an icon.
Finest Hour: Harry's grim, bitter delivery of the 'do you feel lucky?' speech at the end of the film, a world away from the glibness of the opening bank robbery sequence. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Judge me by my size, do you?"
Why He's On The List: That there's barely a kid in the known universe who can't identify Yoda's quirky syntax speaks volumes. It's a stroke of genius to introduce the Jedi master, a two-foot high alien with what appears to be mild dementia (although you try keeping it together living alone of Dagobah for 20 odd years), well before revealing who he actually is, and he quickly goes from being cute, to integral, to unforgettable. A perfect cinematic creation.
Finest Hour: Lifting Luke's X-Wing out of the swamp. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I have many leather-bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany."
Why He's On The List: Star of the funniest comedy of the last 20 years, Ron Burgundy towers over the rest of the moronic, blustering blowhards on Will Ferrell's CV. A truly deluded world class buffoon, Burgundy is nothing less than the American Alan Partridge, a stuck-record sexist endlessly fascinated by the sound of his own voice and obsessed with his own image. We'd hate him, if he weren't so damned funny. Anchorman 2 now, please.
Finest Hour: Ron's phone-box meltdown, following the brutal punting of his beloved gentleman friend, Baxter. He's in a glass case of emotion, apparently. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "So it begins. The great battle of our time."
Why He's On The List: It's quite a transformation for Gandalf across the span of the Rings trilogy. Sure, leading the charge down to Helm's Deep at the end of The Two Towers took some beating, but it's in Return of the King that Gandalf the White really gets it together - and not just sprouting wisdom in the quiet bits. Between temporarily deposing the deranged Steward (Denethor), whipping the army of Gondor into shape, and occasionally breaking out the staff to up a can of whupass on a few orcs, he's pretty much the whole action thing covered.
Finest Hour: Covering all bases in the besieged city of Minis Tirith, holding the cities lax defences together. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I give hope to men. I keep none for myself."
Why He's On The List: Like Gandalf, Aragorn undergoes considerable development across the Rings trilogy, but it's in Return Of The King that Aragorn must confront his destiny, and ergo that's when the character has most to do. Mortensen owns the part by this stage, and reliably provides great work in a monumental role that requires as much quiet expression from his eyes as it does from being able to swing a sword.
Finest Hour: Leading the charge on the armies of Mordor. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?"
Why He's On The List: Without Bourne, James Bond wouldn't be a blond-haired, cold-blooded killer, but the same old black-haired, shag-happy, quipmeister. Or, as Bourne director Paul Greengrass likes to say, "an Imperialist right-wing *beep* Ahem. Bourne, the amnesiac assassin, made being a spy cool again, combining seriously impressive ass-kicking with a compelling and very human quest for redemption and knowledge. It's also the role that made a viable action hero of Matt Damon.
Finest Hour: During Ultimatum's tense chase sequence in Waterloo, Bourne takes out four henchmen without even missing a heartbeat. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "All I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody's ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and I'm still standin', I'm gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I weren't just another bum from the neighborhood."
Why He's On The List: With all due respect to John Rambo, Ray Tango and Marion Cobretti, Rocky Balboa remains Sly Stallone's greatest and most heartwarming creation - a true fighter who doesn't know the meaning of the word 'quit' (probably literally, actually). The 30+ years since Rocky have seen comebacks and setbacks aplenty for creator and creation, but the Italian Stallion - na've, optimistic, idealistic, lovable - remains the Rock on which Stallone's legend is built.
Finest Hour: The double knockdown, race-against-the-clock finale of Rocky II, followed by Rocky's joyful, not entirely discernible victory speech. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next."
Why He's On The List: A mix of Roman history, legend, Shakespeare and old fashioned Hollywood epics, Maximus is about as traditional a tragic hero as you'll find. With everything taken from him by corrupt Emperor Commodus, all he has to fight for is justice, and before he dies, justice is what he shall restore and receive. It was, for Hollywood, a return to the square-jawed non-ironic hero and, for Crowe, the announcement of his status as an A-lister to be reckoned with.
Finest Hour: Fighting a freakin' TIGER. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Expecto patronum!"
Why He's on the List: Five films down, two (well, three) to go, but clearly Harry Potter has already made an impression with you lot. It's not hard to see why: as played by an increasingly convincing Daniel Radcliffe, Harry has morphed before our very eyes from wide-eyed child to embattled, moody teenager and yet managed to remain likeable and sympathetic.
Finest Hour: The last, freezeframed shot of Prisoner Of Azkaban, as Harry flies, carefree and smiling, on his Firebolt. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I can't" - Edward's heartbreaking response to Kim's request to hold her.
Why He's On The List:Only Tim Burton could take a character with wild hair, a white face and scissors for hands and place him at the centre of a fairytale and not, as you might presume, a horror. Only Johnny Depp, Burton's most trusted weapon, could play that achingly na've, trusting manchild and invest him with an innate decency that, come the heartrending ending, will break you in two.
Finest Hour: The poignant, unbearably romantic scene when Edward creates an ice sculpture for Kim (Winona Ryder), while she dances in the resulting snowflakes. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I hope that when the world comes to an end, I can breathe a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to."
Why He's On The List: And you thought you had the weight of the world on your shoulders when you were in high school. An upgrade on the rebellious teen, throughout Richard Kelly's scorching debut Donnie remains just enough of a mystery to stay intriguing, without ever being alienating. Is he mad? Or is something trying to tell him something beyond our comprehension? Most still don't have the answer when the credits roll, but this troubled kid's journey is one we're happy to watch again and again.
Finest Hour: Burning down the house of 'motivator' Jim Cunningham, which serendipitously exposes him as a pederast. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Nobody calls me chicken!"
Why He's On The List: Goddamn, but Marty McFly is cool. Ace guitarist, ace skateboarder, world-class slacker, hot girlfriend, hangs around with a daffy old boffin without inviting the interest of Operation Ore, travels through time in a DeLorean, manages to make his teenage mum fall in love with him, reunites his parents, inspires a teen band - yep, his mojo is working, and then some. Played by any other actor - say, Eric Stoltz - and you might hate the little bugger, but with Michael J. Fox working his cheeky chappy charm to the full, that's not an option.
Finest Hour: Marty gets carried away during Johnny Be Goode. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Come and get one in the yarbles, if you have any yarbles, ya eunuch jelly thou!
Why He's On The List: It's a role that was dripping with controversy from the beginning, but Kubrick could always be trusted to get the right man for the job and to get the most out of him. Step up Malcolm McDowell, who had already made a frightening impression just a few years earlier on Lindsay Anderson's If..., and well and truly finished the job with teenage sociopath Alex. Being a young man who enjoys rape and violence, even watching the tables turned on him isn't satisfying (the brainwashing technique is clinically brutal), but we've never been so terrified to see someone 'cured'.
Finest Hour: His 'Singin' In The Rain' rendition during a home invasion. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig."
Why He's On The List: The final chapter in the series which saw Eastwood burst onto the hero market, it's also the best loved of the three. Blondie, as Eli Wallach's Tuco calls him, is about as cool as it gets in movies, but Eastwood never so much as considers that as an excuse not to commit to the role; he's steely, not wooden. He's also a supreme badass, who's quicker on the draw than anyone and always looking three moves ahead. Often imitated, never bettered.
Finest Hour: Blowing the bridge near Sad Hill cemetery. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Back off, man. I'm a scientist."
Why He's On The List: Empire's Nick De Semlyen summed up Peter Venkman - the leader of the Ghostbusters and Bill Murray's finest character - perfectly in this month's magazine when he said that Venkman is the ultimate New York hero: cynical, sarcastic, secretly sweet-natured. From his relentless and devilishly charming attempts to hit on Sigourney Weaver's Dana to his aversion to anything resembling work, Venkman is the template for virtually every character Vince Vaughn has ever played.
Finest Hour: Venkman works his powers of persuasion on the Mayor Of New York - and the Ghostbusters are back in business. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "This is not the worst thing you've caught me doing."
Why He's On The List: That Stark is one of the newest characters on this list is testament to the performance of Robert Downey Jr., who followed the Johnny Depp/Jack Sparrow model by investing Stark - on paper, a Bruce Wayne billionaire playboy wannabe - with panache and flair and off-beat, improvised humour, turning him into one of the most vital comic book characters around. But there's genuine depth and emotion there, too. The sequels should rock.
Finest Hour: His final press conference ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "This is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules."
Why He's On The List: There's no shortage of great characters in the Coen Brothers' canon, but they don't get much better than Walter. Written especially for Goodman, this bellowing, Vietnamwar-obsessed bowling fanatic , notable for his short temper and a love of guns, belongs firmly in the 'once seen, never forgotten' hall of fame.
Finest Hour: Attempting to exact revenge on a fifteen year old for stealing the dude's car by taking to a new sports car with a golf club, only to find it belongs to a guy down the street. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I'll find him for three. I'll catch him and kill him, for ten!"
Why He's On The List: The most colourful member of Jaws' trinity of heroes, Quint could well have been a stereotypical salty sea dog (with traces of Moby Dick's Ahab). But we really should know better, and from the scars scene through to the Indianapolis speech, Shaw reveals frail, fragile layers beneath the sea shanties and wild overconfidence. His death, spitting blood as the shark bites him in two, is profoundly disturbing.
Finest Hour: What else? The speech about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. How Shaw didn't win an Oscar for that, we'll never know. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "There's a lot of fine ways to die. I ain't waiting for the Alliance to choose mine."
Why He's On The List: Poor box-office aside, there's no taking away from the fact that Mal is one of the best characters in recent sci-fi. It's largely thanks to Fillion's solid grasp of the role, playing the ship's captain as an imperfect leader who's frequently bested in verbal sparring by his shipmates, but who is unquestionably the top dog among them. Like a Han Solo for the new age, we hope he'll be given more chances for adventure.
Finest Hour: Making time for banter with Inara even while springing the Operative's trap. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down."
Why He's On The List: What would Christmas be like without this movie and Jimmy Stewart's finest role? As George Bailey, the small-town family man with a heart of gold but a head full of doubt, Stewart delivers an astonishingly nuanced turn as a suicidal case slowly getting to grips with the idea that life is worth living after all.
Finest Hour: That ending, when George realises that - hey! - it is a wonderful life after all. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm here to rescue you!"
Why He's On The List: Mark Hamill gets a bad rap, and it's undeserved. OK, so when we first meet Luke Skywalker, he's a whiny little bitch, but as the series progresses and Luke flirts with the Dark Side, Hamill - face and soul ravaged by a car crash - injects just the right amount of gravitas to make the arc believable. Much more so than Hayden Christensen's attempt at the same with Anakin, anyway.
Finest Hour: Empire's moment of truth, as a one-handed Luke finds out who his dad really is. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "This is not a food baby, alright? I've taken, like, three pregnancy tests, and I'm fo'shizz up the spout."
Why She's On The List: If Oscar-worthy roles for women seem a little thin on the ground, try searching for decent roles for women under twenty. Even if the Academy didn't bestow the award on Page, she can take consolation in the fact that her character has well and truly entered the public consciousness. Quick-witted and with a tongue like a Stanley knife, Juno is, in her own precocious and pregnant way, a strange, new kind of heroine.
Finest Hour: Vomiting blue Slurpy into her stepmother's vase. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I love lamp."
Why He's On The List: To compete with a character like Ron Burgundy, you have to have something special: Brick Tamland has it. The world champion of movie morons, Steve Carell's mentally retarded weatherman attacks every line with an innocent, boyish zeal that allows him to get away with doing and saying things that would probably find most other people subject of a hate campaign from the Daily Mail.
Finest Hour: His painful attempt to invite Veronica Corningstone to the "pants party." ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world."
Why He's On The List: As first stabs at romantic leading roles go, you really can't go past this one: Blaine has become the classic jaded romantic. If not quite an anti-hero, he somehow makes selfishness and cynicism cool - but of course goes on to make true love and fighting for the Resistance so much cooler. He did wonders for the white dinner jackets, and who cares if everyone misquotes him? It's the sentiment that counts.
Finest Hour: Stitching up the Nazis a treat. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Like...a...glove."
Why He's On The List: Jim Carrey has spent the last decade trying to show that there's more to him than the gurning, madcap, big-haired, manic, wildly energetic, room-dominating pet detective, a man who quite literally talks through his arse. And while that's undoubtedly true, he's never been funnier than in the first Ventura - hence this list has an Ace up its sleeve.
Finest Hour: His tour-de-force performance in the penthouse suite of the murdered Miami Dolphins coach as he shows the cops exactly where they're going wrong in their investigation. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "You're no crazier'n the average *beep* on the street."
Why He's On The List: Already an icon of the counter-culture movement from Ken Kesey's book, the casting of McMurphy was always going to be crucial. Nicholson's performance is a dervish of anti-establishment chaos, railing against a pointless system with Christ-like appeal. A deserved winner of Oscars for both the Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor.
Finest Hour: Making up the baseball world series - and convincing the other patients of it - when Nurse Ratched won't switch it on the TV in the ward. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Is life always this hard, or is it just when you're a kid?"
Why She's On The List: The coolest kid in movie history - fact. Mathilda is 12 years-old when a corrupt cops kills her family, forcing her to seek solace with hitman neighbour Leon. But, for most of the movie, this frightened little kid acts like someone twice her age. Sassy and hyper-confident, even in her blossoming sexuality, the Louise Brooks-bobbed Mathilda served notice of an astounding new talent in Portman.
Finest Hour: Trembling with fear and uncorked rage, a kid again, as she fails to kill her own personal bogeyman, Norman Stansfield, in a police station's men's room. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Ta-da!"
Why He's On The List: WALL-E is probably the cutest character on this list, making Short Circuit's Johnny Five (not present but we liked the analogy) look like a Terminator and E.T. like Jabba The Hutt. The adorable little bolt bucket never, ever, gives up hope, and winds up saving both the planet and the human race for his trouble. But it's the revealing of his personality through his undying fascination with human junk that really wins you over.
Finest Hour: Gradually winning over the straight-programmed EVE. ” - colm-hearne365
Why She's On The List: For a guy who wrote the sweaty sausagefest that is Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino has been making up for it since with strong female protagonists - and none stronger than The Bride, aka Beatrix Kiddo, aka a Q&U creation. The 'U', of course, is Thurman, who has never been better as the single-minded, athletic killing machine, as adept at swinging a sword as she is in suggesting The Bride's inner turmoil.
Finest Hour: The House Of The Blue Leaves massacre, as the Crazy 88s become the Crazy 2 or 3. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: [About Soze]: "Keaton always said, 'I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him.' Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze."
Why He's On The List: Interestingly, the only character from The Usual Suspects to make it onto the list is one who may not even exist. There's no conclusive proof, for example, that Kevin Spacey's Verbal Kint is actually Keyser Soze and not, say, a Soze goon. Still, that's the genius of Bryan Singer's film - that a character who remains unseen for at least 90% of the time dominates the action. And, with his tendrils of influence seemingly inescapable, Soze - whoever he is - is a truly great screen villain.
Finest Hour: Raining on Dean Keaton's parade, as he pisses out the flames that will blow up the boat. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Do you have the slightest idea what moral and ethical dilemma is?"
Why He's On The List: Some people are born mad, others have madness thrust upon them, like poor Jack. A recovering alcoholic, frustrated novelist and teacher, his problems are just beginning when he takes his family to manage the upkeep of the Overlook hotel during its winter closure. As its haunting envelopes him, Jack becomes one of the most beautifully unhinged characters of all time.
Finest Hour: The iconic moment when, after he's gone completely ta-ta's, Jack takes to a door with an axe in pursuit of his wife - with grimmest intentions. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Be...good."
Why He's On The List: A spindly little thing with a stretchy neck, bulbous eyes, flat head, and a voice that sounds like a fart machine with the batteries run low, E.T. is nobody's idea of the star of what was the most successful movie ever. But looks aren't everything, and as E.T. waddled around, bonding with Elliot and garbling a series of adorable non sequiturs, we all fell in love with him.
Finest Hour: When he comes back to life, his pallid skin illuminated by his re-energised, warm, glowing heart. Not a dry eye in the house. ” - colm-hearne365
Why She's On The List: In stark contrast to pretty much every other movie cop ever, Marge is just about the nicest police officer you're ever likely to meet. But don't be fooled - she's no small town rube, nor does she let being in the final stages of pregnancy stop her from solving an extortion/kidnapping case with a few grisly murderers. One of the Coens' greatest creations, brought to life by Mrs Joel (who was actually pregnant at the time, so a real family affair), she's a perfect creation - with the screenwriting and acting Oscars to prove it.
Finest Hour: Making us believe she's found an important clue in the snow - it's morning sickness. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Great Scott!"
Why He's On The List: The white hair may be standard issue mad scientist, but Doctor Emmett Brown, creator of the flux capacitor and a man incapable of normal social interaction because his head is too busy buzzing with ideas, is a genuinely likeable creation, a world away from stereotypes. So much so that, when he gets shot by Libyans ten minutes in, we're sad even though we've only just met the man. And joyous again when we meet his younger self. Now that's acting.
Finest Hour: "1.21 gigawatts!" The young Doc's spazz-out when he hears the full extent of the energy needed to send Marty back to the future is a sight to behold. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: [In falsetto] *beep*
Why He's On The List: Next time you're bitching about 'Hollywood development hell', remember what could have become of Beverly Hills Cop if Simpson/Bruckheimer had not decided to re-invent it for meteoric SNL star Murphy, instead of as a Stallone vehicle as originally conceived. Murphy's fast-talking, quick-on-his-feet Foley is pure gold, and came as a welcome relief to the traditional action fare of the day.
Finest Hour: Talking his way into an exclusive restaurant by claiming to have a message for the film's bad guy (Steven Berkoff) concerning 'Herpes simplex 10'. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "He's no good to me dead."
Why He's On The List: Before his back story was rewritten, Boba Fett was the coolest thing in the Star Wars universe that wasn't played by Harrison Ford. He took no *beep* from Darth Vader. He wore a cool helmet. He outwitted Han Solo. He had a jetpack. Now, though, he sounds like a Kiwi, and we know that he began life as a brat with about a million brothers. Not cool, but the Original Trilogy Boba abides.
Finest Hour: Tracking Han Solo to Bespin, by hiding in the garbage. Sneaky bastard. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "We all go a little mad sometimes."
Why He's On The List: It's Perkins' wholly dedicated performance helps put Bates in the pantheon of horror. You know from the off that something's not quite right with the apparently friendly and handsome Norman, but you're never sure entirely what - even after the shower scene. Is he a weak deviant under the thumb of his mad, disciplinarian mother, or something more sinister?
Finest Hour: Running into the room, knife in hand, dressed in full "costume". ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Hey bub, I'm not finished with you yet."
Why He's On The List: Altogether now: Snikt! Wolverine is the best there is at what he does, which in the movies means mooning after Jean Grey, growling one-liners, slicing and dicing evil mutants and being a foot taller and considerably more handsome than his comic book counterpart. Not that it matters - Hugh Jackman, brash yet vulnerable, simply owns the role. He is the best there is at what he does, after all.
Finest Hour: His berserker rage during Stryker's assault on the X-mansion in X-2. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Are you gonna bark all day, little doggie, or are you gonna bite?"
Why He's On The List: We hear evidence for and see it against, but the great thing about 'Toothpick' Vic Vega is that you can't believe he's capable of committing his atrocities until you actually see them: that is the hallmark of a psychopath. And his 'moment in the sun', as it were, is magnificent - a cool, cruel torture sequence as meaningless as it is vicious. Arguably the scene that put Tarantino on the map, it walks dangerously close to, yet never crosses the line, between making violence horrific and making it cool.
Finest Hour: Breaking midway through torturing Marvin the cop to step outside and get a can of petrol from the boot of his car, in a single shot. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "That is the sound of inevitability. That is the sound of your death."
Why He's On The List: Stony-faced and silken-voiced, the conniving computer program Smith is driven by an engine of pure hate - hate for humans, and hate for the miserable existence that forces him to keep them in check. Even in the sequels, he manages to retain an air of menace (he's more than equal to Neo) as the plot became ever more bloated and ridiculous.
Finest Hour: His speech to a captive Morpheus, in which he expounds on his theory about mankind: namely, they're a virus, and he's the cure. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain. Time... to die."
Why He's On The List: In some ways, Nexus generation replicant Roy, the most advanced machine ever built, is very lucky - he manages to quite literally meet his maker, and question the issue of his mortality. Sadly he's also been used as slave labour, and despite being advanced in almost every other capacity, has only the collected wisdom of his four years of 'life'. But he finds peace, and his final scenes in Blade Runner are among the best sci-fi you'll see.
Finest Hour: Grabbing Deckard's arm just in time. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Why, you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking... NERFHERDER!"
Why She's On The List: Star Wars isn't just a boys' toy - not as long as Princess Leia Organa is around, that is. Not for her the simpering squeaks of a damsel in distress - Leia is opinionated, gutsy and as defiant in the face of authority as her father. Commendably, she never became mere eye candy in the series: even in the bikini she kicks ass, and by the end of Jedi, she's the one wearing the trousers in her relationship with Han.
Finest Hour: Strangling Jabba to death with her own slave chains - emancipation be damned! ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "To infinity - and beyond!"
Why He's On The List: One of only two animated characters on this list, Buzz Lightyear deserves his slot because he's a dreamer. And dreamers, sometimes, deserve to fly as high as they can. An initially deluded toy that thinks it's a real space cadet, Buzz's boundless optimism is only temporarily dented when he finds out the truth, with his can-do attitude a vital component of his relationship with the panicky Woody.
Finest Hour: His hilarious attempt to fly, or "falling with style" in Toy Story, which ends with the triumphant declaration, "CAN!" ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "You're all my children now!"
Why He's On The List: Before he became a vaudevillian villain, dispatching victims while dropping one-liners like a hideously scarred Arnie, Robert Englund's Freddie Krueger was a genuinely disturbing menace, a cackling, mocking foe who moved like a spider, and whose threat was not only almost inescapable (close your eyes, you're his) but often disturbingly sexual, and whose one-liners were blunt tools like "I'm gonna kill you slow!" It's not hard to see why he became an icon.
Finest Hour: His tormenting murder of the hapless Tina, dragging her increasingly bloodied body up walls and onto the ceiling. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "Injun will chase a thing till he thinks he's chased it enough. Then he quits. Same way when he runs. Seems like he never learns there's such a thing as a critter that'll just keep comin' on. So we'll find 'em in the end, I promise you. We'll find 'em. Just as sure as the turnin' of the earth."
Why He's On The List: Cinema's archetypal loner, Ethan's complexities lie in his war-ravaged attitude to life (he fought for the Confederate army), and a deeply entrenched racist attitude to Native Americans. Obviously this creates a problem when a war party comes through and murders his brother's family - except for Ethan's niece Debbie, who is abducted. Many people believe The Searchers itself to be racist, and to a point it is, but it's important to draw the distinction between Ethan's character and the overarching attitude of the film (which essentially isn't).
Finest Hour: His family is re-united, but ever the outsider, Ethan cannot join them, and instead returns to the wilderness. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "I tried to free them. I opened the gate to their pen, but they wouldn't run. They just stood there, confused. They wouldn't run."
Why She's On The List: Hannibal Lecter may be the flashier role, but getting the right Starling proved to be an even more crucial piece of the equation; the sequel, Hannibal, is testament to that. Clarice is an exceptionally bright rookie who's way out of her depth and with demons in her past, but though sheer determination and her strange relationship with Lecter, she fights, and eventually overcomes, her fears.
Finest Hour: Terrified, alone and surrounded by darkness, Starling fends off serial killer Jame 'Buffalo Bill' Gumb, shooting him and conquering her fears. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm... afraid."
Why He's On The List: Stanley Kubrick's epic journey to the stars confuses the hell out of a lot of people, but it essentially boils down to an examination of humankind's place in the universe. HAL (that's Heuristic Algorithmic Computer) comes to represent the problems of perfect logic and the lack of spontaneous, emotional human response. His supreme intelligence is always communicated in the same succinct yet polite tone - it's our own humanity which interprets the supercomputer's voice initially as reassuring, then as rather creepy.
Finest Hour: The only two conscious crew members, Frank Poole and Dave Bowman, take what they believe to be every precaution against HAL overhearing a conversation wherein they decide to disconnect him, but he still manages rumbles the plan - HAL can read lips. ” - colm-hearne365
Famous Quote: "You do this my way. You shoot, you shoot to kill, get as many of them as you can. All you got to do is just not miss."
Why He's On The List: The role that persuaded Franco Zefferelli that Gibson would make a great Hamlet, on paper Martin Riggs seems like your run-of-the-mill cop on the edge. Gibson did play Riggs as a wild-eyed nutcase but, armed with Shane Black's wonderful dialogue, also conveyed the desperation of a man who wants to live, but has forgotten how.
Finest Hour: His brutal fight with Gary Busey's Mr. Joshua at the end of the first film. ” - colm-hearne365