What does being a “cool” movie character mean exactly? It means being able to keep a level head regardless of the situation the character ends up in. For some characters, the stakes are obviously much greater. Their “coolness” becomes integral to their survival. But for other characters, their coolness is so ingrained it’s a way of life.
Here’s a list of 10 great examples of being cool in film; there are similar character traits, but coolness isn’t always exactly the same.
10. Tyler Durden – Fight Club
The dynamic between Brad Pitt’s performance, and Edward Norton’s speaks volumes about how much Tyler Durden meant for many young men. People love Fight Club so much now that it has almost become stigmatized to admit you like the film.
It’s a movie frustrated guys watch to feel empowered: in real life they’re perhaps most like Edward Norton’s Tyler Durden. But Brad Pitt’s portrayal of the same character is who they hope to be. It’s this complexity of Tyler Durden that marks Fight Club stand apart from being just a typical frat boy movie. Tyler Durden still represents so much; primarily the idea of taking charge of your own life.
9. Ellen Ripley – Alien
Ellen Ripley is a character that was ahead of her time. The character was originally written as a man, but Ridley Scott ultimately decided against that.
Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley is a subversive hero: she’s one of the smartest, bravest characters in a genre that is typically filled with men.
8. Randal – Clerks
Kevin Smith has mentioned that when he initially started writing Clerks, he intended to play the role of Randal himself. As a result, Randal Graves is the funnier of the pair in the movie; Dante Hicks is more of a Charlie Brown character.
It’s not only Randal’s sense of humour: his philosophy is so laissez faire he only speaks up to give Dante advice when it’s absolutely necessary. We learn later that Randal isn’t unhappy to work in a meaningless job. Unlike Dante, Randal likes working at a convenience store because it fits his personality.
7. Jules Winnfield – Pulp Fiction
Jules Winnfield is one of those movie characters that is so cool he will stand the test of time. A telling thing about Jules Winnfield’s favourite bible passage: it’s originally from an old Sonny Chiba movie (Karate Kiba).
Samuel L. Jackson was able to take Tarantino’s nerdiness and still turn it into one of the coolest monologues of all time. And it all culminates in Jules being so suave he has to coach others on how to be cool, “We’re gonna be like three little Fonzies here. And what’s Fonzie like?”
6. James Bond – The 007 Series
James Bond is a character that transcends generations and actors. It would not do a list of cool characters justice without mentioning James Bond, the prototype of cool. James Bond feels like a silly male fantasy: he’s dressed well all the time, women love him, he drives the best cars, and he has access to the best gadgets. It sounds goofy when described like that, but James Bond is timeless.
Perhaps due to how cool the character is, audiences keep watching James Bond movies. Maybe it’s his ability to make the world of Bond seem less silly than it is; James Bond doesn’t feel like a fictional character even though he clearly is.