10 Favourite Screen Characters

10 Favourite Scree Characters - It's a challenge. What are you 10 favourite characters from films and tv series, and why?

Back in March, Crispian Thurlborn tagged me for this challenge to list my 10 favourite screen characters. Because I was already very busy with the AtoZ Challenge, I couldn’t do it right away, but now here I am ready to oblige. Thanks Crispian for being this patient.

You can check out Crispisn’s list here… and it’s well worth the time.

Here it goes mine.



Thomas Builds-the-Fire
(Evan Adams)

Smoke Signals
(Chris Eyre – 1998)

Thomas Builds-the-Fire is a recurring character in Sherman Alexie’s stories and is a strong supporting character in the film Smoke Signals.

I like Thomas in the stories because he’s a weird, but loyal fellow. He’s a very positive character, upholding tradition both as remembrance of the past and foundation for the future (which is something I believe in) and he has this naivety about him than makes him endearing.

In an interview right after the movie was filmed, Alexie said Evan Adams pinned down the character in such an effective way that after that he could no longer think to that character without seeing him as Evans.


LOTR - The Return of the King 360

(Karl Urban)

The Lord of the Rings – the Two Towers
(Peter Jackson – 2002)

Well, I suppose this is not widely known on this blog, but I’ve been a Tolkien fan for the last twenty years or so. Yes, from before the film trilogy came out.

The episode of the Rohirrim is one of my favourite in the books too. My favourite part is actually Theoden’s struggle for freedom, but in the movies I  really liked the way Eomer was portrayed. He got some more room and he appears like the quintessential incarnation of knighthood: loyal, bold, but ready to scarify himself (his life, but also his ego) however it is demanded of him.



Ruth Younger
(Ruby Dee)

Raisin in the Run
(Daniel Petrie – 1961)

This was a tough one! I knew I was going to pick someone from this film because the cast is absolutely brilliant. I debated long and hard whether to choose Wally, because of Sidney Poitier’s outstanding performance (his “we are plain people” monologue gets me every single time), but in the end I decided for Ruth because I love this character so much.

Her quiet courage, her soft strength, her willingness to scarify if need be. This is a strong woman and a strong character and she doesn’t need to do anything spectacular to show it.



Saymour Polatkin
(Evan Adams)

The Business of Fancydancing
(Sherman Alexie – 2001)

Ok, fine, Evan Adams is going to be featured twice on this list, and I’m afraid there’s nothing you can do about it.

As much as I like Thomas, I have to admit Saymour is a far more complex, problematic character and I think Adams made a super fantastic job of it. He plays the character, he fakes interviews, he features poetry… this is a complex interpretation and he pulled it out brilliantly. This is a character with so many faces, but Adams managed to turn him into a unique human being.



Salvo Montalbano
(Luca Zingaretti)

Il Commissario Montalbano – TV Series
(Alberto Sironi – 1999-)

When Luca Zingaretti was chosen to feature Montalbano when the series was first filmed, Andrea Camilleri, the author of the books, strongly opposed him on the base that Zingaretti doesn’t look like Montalbano in the books at all. Years later, Camilleri admitted that Zingaretti made the character his own character in such a strong and effective way that the screen character as he performs him sipped from the tv series into the books, because the author himself finally accepted some of the characteristics the actor lend to the character.

Montalbano is a police detective in a little Sicilian town. Witty, funny, intuitive, but also stubborn and hard to deal with, he has a very high ideal of justice and law, but he knows real life often doesn’t allow for a neat carrying out of them. He’s a very complex character and I love him.



Isabeau d’Anjou
Michelle Pfiffer

(Richard Donner – 1985)

When Ladyhawke came out in the mid-1980s there was a tendency (which is still quite popular today, if I may say) to represent female characters, especially in fantasy movies, as warriors kicking arses this way and that.

Isabeau isn’t a warrior, she’s a princess, and you never doubt it when you see her. Still she isn’t afraid to dirty her hands if need be. She can kill, she can hunt, she can deceive even her lover, and she does it without fuss or showing off.

I’ve rarely seen a character with such hardness and softness inside herself. This is how I like my female characters to be.


Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman)

Nelson Mandela
(Morgan Freeman)

(Clint Eastwood – 2009)

I know, I know, I’m cheating here, because of course Nelson Mandela isn’t a screen character. But Invictus in one of my favourite films ever and Morgan Freeman is one of my favourite actors and so I’m afraid you’ll have to take it.

Freeman portraits Mandela in a very short period of his life, but he succeeds in giving an all around impression of the men. Especially his kindness, his drive and his devotion to his people and his country. His fairness. The openness of his mind…

Ok, I’ll stop here.


jack vincennes

Jack Vincennes
(Kavin Spacey)

L.A. Confidencial
(Curtis Hanson – 1997)

I’ll admit there isn’t a single character I don’t like in this movie, even the small ones, but if I had to choose (which is exactly what I’m supposed to do), it would be Jack.

Come on, how can you not love him? His flamboyant manners, his frivolous lifestyle – and still if you care to scrap the surface, you find a man with strength and even values.

I won’t say this is a very original character, but I will say Kevin Spacey managed to turn him from a stereotype to a (quite endearing) human being.



Jimmy Markum
(Sean Penn)

Mystic River
(Clint Eastwood – 2003)

And fine, Clint Eastwood is going to appear twice as director in this list and there’s equally nothing you can do about it.

Now, let me tell you, with the stellar cast of characters (and actors) in this film, you’d think it would be hard to choose the one I like the most. Not a chance. Jimmy (Sean Penn) all the way. Don’t get me wrong, all the actors are fantastic in this which is all but an easy film, but Penn’s performance simply knocked me out so brilliant it is. Gave me chills down my spine every two minutes. It’s so intense.

And Jimmy isn’t an easy character either. He’s a though, rough, violent outlaw, but still he has such strong feelings for his family in himself. That last scene with his wife at the end of the movie is worth the entire film.



(Robin Givens)

Rage in Harlem
(Bill Duke – 1991)

You know when you read a book and you like it so much (and oh! I’ve just realised most of these characters come from books. Oh, well…). You never know how you’ll react to the film, because most of the times, the film doesn’t live up to the book.

Not in this case. I enjoyed the film as much as the book, and I think this is because of the director and the actors.

Imabell was the biggest surprise. She’s little more than a name in the book, but she becames one of the main characters in the film… and what a character! A beautiful woman, she does what all beautiful women do in gangster film: she’s seductive and deceiving – but, boy, is she tough too! In a world of men, she has to be tougher than them to survive and that’s what she is, in spite of her inner vulnerability.


And so, this is my list. Are you familiar with any of these characters? Do you have others that you love? Do mention them in the comments… though I think I’m supposed to tag someone now. Uhm… Heading over to Twitter.

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About the Author

I was born, raised and I still live near Verona (Italy), though I worked for a time in Dublin. I started writing fantasy stories as a kid. Today I’m a bookseller who reads fantasy, history, mythology, anthropology and lots of speculative fiction. Somehow, all of this has found its way into my own dieselpunk stories.

37 Comments on "10 Favourite Screen Characters"

  1. Ah, Montalbano sono!

    I’m rewatching all of these at the moment. I’ve only read one of the books and didn’t enjoy it (I suspect/hope that the translation wasn’t very good, as it’s the only book by an Italian author I’ve not liked), but the series is great. Terrible dubbing on poor Livia, though…
    Andrew Leon Hudson recently posted…Hunting Monsters – S. L. HuangMy Profile

    • You know? I always wonder how Camilleri can be translated. He doesn’t write Montalbano’s books in Italian. He writes them in a mix of Italian and a kind of Sicilian dialect which isn’t really Sicilian, because that’s suppoused to be Licata dialect… and Licata doesn’t exist 😉
      I suppose that goes all lost in translation. I mean, even the subtitles in the trailer I linked don’t do any justice to what the characters are actually saying.

      But I’m happy you like the stories. They are really good 🙂

      • Montalbano is the BEST crime series on TV. In Sweden they broadcast it in Italian, with subtitles, and the language is fabulous. The settings. The acting. The atmosphere.

        Now I will see in our local DVD store if Montalbano is sold here in Indonesia…
        Lene Fogelberg recently posted…Blurb HeavenMy Profile

        • I know the series is very popular in Sweden. Zingaretti recounted years ago that he was vacationing in Sweden and got stopped in the street so many times by people who recognised him… and he was shocked because he didn’t expect it.

          Indonesia? I don’t think so, but if you find out, let me know! 🙂

  2. I loved your choices; a wonderful mixture of memorable characters. I particularly enjoyed learning why they made it on to your list – what they meant to you 🙂

    • Hi Melissa and thanks for stopping by.
      It was a fun post to write. And by the way, if you feel like writing your own list, just go right ahead. I’d love to read it 🙂

  3. Thanks for the tag, but I’m neck-deep in deadlines for the next three weeks.

    Personally, I liked Jack Vincennes in LA Confidential, as well as Bud White, maybe more Bud than Jack.

    I probably have a few others I’ve liked over the years, but I can’t recall them at the moment. I’ll give it some thought and do a blog post somewhere in the new future.

    Awesome post!

    • I won’t push any pressure on you, I mean, took me more then a month to write my post.

      I like all the three main men in LA Confidential, and I really love Bud and Ed’s relationship, the way it evolves. But still, there’s somethign about Jack… 😉

  4. Ha! You finally got around to it 😉

    Some good choices there. From your list, I think I’d have to choose either ‘Isabeau d’Anjou’ from “Ladyhawke” or ‘Salvo Montalbano’ from “Il Commissario Montalbano”. Both are enjoyable characters, but I think Isabeau has that enchanting, ethereal, beauty about her.

    I enjoyed L.A. Confidential as a film, but I couldn’t get past my dislike of Kevin Spacey. Whether it’s his mannerisms or intonation of voice, he always seems to be the same; very much like the awful, Nicolas Cage.

  5. Some great movies and actors/actresses on your list! To me Kavin Spacey is an actor who might not generate the buzz some do, but always delivers a strong performance whatever his character. I am also a great admirer of all of Morgan Freeman’s work I’ve ever seen.
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  6. I absolutely loved Sean Penn in Mystic River and Kevin Spacey in L.A. Confidential — great choices! Unlike Crispian, I also love Nicholas Cage. 🙂
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  7. There are some great characters there, though quite a few I’m not familiar with. Ladyhawke was one of my favorite movies as a kid (I still think about it sometimes), and Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman are awesome in everything they do. Oh, and Mystic River… I describe that movie as a fantastic film that I never want to see again. It hurt my heart, big time (and I love Clint Eastwood for that).
    Sara C. Snider recently posted…The Short Fiction Experiment — A to Z ReflectionsMy Profile

    • Mystic River is one of the best films I’ve ever watched. And it’s true, it hurts, but it also leaves you something. When a story does that to you, it means it’s special.

      I still like Ladyhawke a lot. The idea of the two lovers, always togehter, always apart, sank into me and never left 🙂

  8. Several characters which were new to me there. I would find that really hard! For one, I think Mad Men has so many great characters – Don Draper, hmm, enough said, swoons slightly – of which my favourite would be Peggy for starting from nowhere and pulling herself up.
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    • I hear a lot of talking about Mad Man these day, I supose because the series has just ended? I know nothing about it, never heard about this series before yesterday (ehhh, I’m sorry) but it must be a good one, right? 🙂

  9. EOMER!

    I was gonna virtually kick you if Eomer was not on that list. Forth Eorlingas!

    Do you ever go back and peek around the Plaza? Maybe once a year or so, I’ll have the urge to see about joining back up, but so much of it has changed. It’s just not quite the same anymore, especially since they’ve rearranged all the kingdoms. :/
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    • I’m hurt! Did you really think I could leave Eomer out?
      Eh! Eh! Eh! 🙂

      It’s been years since I last visited the Plaza and it’s for the reason you say: last time I visited, everything was so different I didn’t feel at home.
      Bit sad.

  10. ahh, mystic river, feel it in my stomac!
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  11. Those are truly great movies. I think everyone did a great job in them and that’s a rare occurance.

  12. There are quite a few films that I didn’t know in there – always great to discover new ones! I always love it when you read a book and the film turns out as good — although sadly that’s rarely the case….
    Thanks for tagging me, I’m looking forward to getting stuck into this one!
    Celine Jeanjean recently posted…A Long, Tough WinterMy Profile

    • Can’t wait to read your list!

      Well, in the case of L.A. Confidatial, I liked the film better than the film. Seriously! That’s the only time that’s happened to me.

  13. This is the second reference I’ve seen to Smoke Signals in the last week! Now I really want to watch it. What a great movie, and Evan Adams was amazing in it.

    I also really liked Eomer! The rest I’ve never watched… but your summaries made me want to check them out!
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    • Well, these are among my favourite films, so of course I recommand all of them 😉

      Cool, where else did you hear about Smoke Signals this week?

  14. I am so glad you posted this. My kid and I really enjoyed reading Sherman Alexie when he and I totally forgot about him. Thank you for the reminder about him. Unfortunately, I am so BAD at saying whose acting I love – when I’m on the spot I choke up. But I am in the middle of a “House of Cards” binge, so I’m all about Kevin Spacey’s acting at the moment…. 🙂 And boy it is time for a new post I see on the tag here…
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    • I heard about House of Cards but I’ve never watched it. I suppose you’re recommand it, right 😉

      Sherman Alexie is my favourite author. I dedicated the month of March to him, in case you care to go back and read my posts. How nice to find a fellow fan!

  15. Smoke Signals! Love that film. And I was just talking about Ladyhawke the other day with my kids. I think they will really enjoy seeing it. This was a great list.
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    • Hey, thanks for stopping by.

      I read people saying Ladyhawke looks dated. I don’t think so, actually. It is a very good movie with a very good story… and that never ages 😉

  16. An interesting list. Some movies I’m going to have to put on my list to see. Just saw Lord of the Rings. My favorite is Treebeard the Ent. 🙂

  17. Trace L Hentz | 9th July 2015 at 3:27 pm |

    I am such a movie marathoner you have given me great new suggestions! I love you for that and for choosing Sherman Alexie movies. (I am going through a Wes Anderson craze right now.)
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  18. Yay for Eomer! It’s nice to see a fan highlight someone from outside the Fellowship on such a list. 🙂 I’ve heard of a few of the other films you mentioned, like Mystic River, Invictus, L.A. Confidential, and Raisin in the Sun, but I haven’t seen them yet.
    Sara L. recently posted…My Ten Favorite Screen CharactersMy Profile

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