This was not an easy list by any stretch. As I went through Quentino Tarantino’s films and jot down my favorite characters from each, my list continued to grow and grow… well beyond ten names. At one point I thought I would do a top 15, but that would have meant leaving off a couple of characters I didn’t want to see left out and I didn’t want to have to go up to 20 because at that point it just becomes excessive and sort of ruins the fun of narrowing things down to ten and taking a stand. So I ended with ten, but made sure to list my honorable mentions at the end, a list that still left a couple of names out of the mix I very easily could add to the top ten on any given day.
When it comes to looking at Tarantino’s films and the characters he has created you enter a vast world of creativity, filled with dialogue that is unparalleled in my opinion. Sure, Tarantino rips off other films and even some of the best lines from some of his characters are direct rip-offs or have been slightly altered to fit the situation. However, they work every time. “You shoot me in a dream, you better wake up and apologize,” says Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) in Reservoir Dogs harkening back to James Cagney in Angels with Dirty Faces, and it works.
Now, as you pour over my list of characters you may see some unexpected names. This is because what I like most about Tarantino’s films is his dedication to all characters and not just his leads. A character could be on screen for only a couple of minutes and make a lasting impression. So often is the case, the leads in Tarantino’s films are enhanced by those they come into contact with and as a result it not only creates lasting memories of the supporting character but enhances the lead beyond measure.
With that said, I stuck only to Tarantino directed films, which meant the likes of From Dusk Till Dawn, True Romance and Natural Born Killers were out of bounds. Other than that, it was fair game. The only Tarantino directed film not represented is Four Rooms and I really don’t think Sin City counts considering his contribution in the director’s chair was minimal.
And now, without further ado… my top ten Quentin Tarantino characters…
|Esteban Vihaio (Michael Parks) – Kill Bill: Vol. 2|
I mentioned Michael Parks’ performance as the pimp Esteban Vihaio when I did my ranking of Tarantino’s first six films recently so those that read that piece really shouldn’t be all that surprised by his appearance here at the ten spot. I absolutely love this character and love his interaction with Uma Thurman as The Bride. This is an example of exactly what I was talking about when I said the supporting characters enhance the lead. The two of them playing off one another in the scene that follows is my absolute favorite part of Kill Bill: Volume Two and Esteban’s inclusion on this list was never in doubt.
|Melanie Ralston (Bridget Fonda) – Jackie Brown|
I mentioned Bridget Fonda’s performance as Melanie when I did my roundup of Quentin Tarantino foot fetish scenes and for good reason, I loved her in this role and thought she was the one character I 100% connected with in Jackie Brown. When she met her final demise I was actually sad to see her go. I loved everything this character brought to the table from her dedication to morning marijuana, her unwanted seduction of Louis Gara (Robert De Niro) and her plot to rip-off Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson). Again, I was sad to see her go.
|Nice Guy Eddie Cabot (Chris Penn) – Reservoir Dogs|
The biggest reason Chris Penn’s character Nice Guy Eddie Cabot stands out for me from Reservoir Dogs is because of all the layers this guy is dealing with. From referring to his mafioso father as “Daddy” to wielding a heavy hand when confronted with a major problem at a warehouse when he walks in to find a police officer duct taped and bleeding. Yet Eddie keeps a handle on things. My favorite, however, is his eye-roll after asking about the whereabouts of Mr. Blue and Mr. Blonde says, “Either he’s alive or he’s dead, or the cops got him… or they don’t.” He’s the reaction man to an impossible situation and he couldn’t have been drawn up any better.