There’s a meme going around that encourages folks to think of 15 characters off the top of their heads who influenced them & will always stick with them, with the caveat that this task should take no more than 15 minutes.
I grabbed pen and paper, got to about five and then got stuck. The task ended up taking a bit longer than 15 minutes because I tend to overthink these things (as evidenced by the fact that I’ve chosen to add explanations as to why I’ve picked these characters, which is NOT part of the meme). But hey, that’s just how I do things. Anyway here’s my list.
- Dana Scully (from The X-Files) – Wanted to be her when I was a teen. Appreciated her paradox of science coupled with faith.
- Fox Mulder (from The X-Files) – While I idolized Scully in a lot of ways, Mulder’s insistence on the existence of the fantastical always hit home with me.
- Professor John Keating (from DEAD POETS SOCIETY) – “Carpe diem! Seize the day, boys! Make your lives extraordinary.” More on my love for Keating & this movie here.
- Monsieur Bienvenue (from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables) – The man who teaches Jean Valjean the meaning of grace, mercy & the purpose of faith. Worth noting that this character more or less ruined organized religion for me, as I’ve never been to a church that has Bienvenue’s heart for mankind, both as a whole and as individuals.
- Jean Valjean (from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables) – After his encounter with M. Bienvenue, he transforms his life and becomes “an upright man,” to the point that he’s willing to sacrifice himself for a petty criminal who isn’t even lucid enough to be aware of his punishment. What I learned from him: he values of determination and dedication to self and to those you love.
- Dorian Gray (from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray) – A brilliant study in the value of beauty, experience & the human soul. Few characters (especially outside of school) have inspired such in-depth analysis & meditation for me.
- Little Bee (from Chris Cleave’s Little Bee/The Other Hand) – Few modern literary characters have touched me in the way Little Bee did. Just one example of this character’s wisdom here.
- Elwood (from HARVEY) – In short, Elwood’s just plain cool with being himself, even though he knows everyone thinks he’s a little nutty. Doesn’t bother him. He’s happy, and he’s got no desire to be unpleasant to anyone else. Pretty good philosophy.
- The Unicorn (from THE LAST UNICORN) – It’s hard to wrap up how this character has influenced me, but it was probably the first time for me as a child that I experienced through a character the feelings of isolation and loneliness that come from being different. It’s about recognizing your own magic in a lot of ways, whatever consequences that might bring.
- Esmeralda (from Disney’s THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME) – Short of Pocahontas, she’s kind of the most kick-ass Disney heroine, isn’t she? She’s strong, confident, passionate, and compassionate. Love her. Kind of want to be her.
- Belle (from Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST) – Belle’s pretty awesome, too. Another strong female who marches to the beat of her own drum and won’t back down for anyone, even if it would make things easier to sacrifice some of her dreams and values.
- Lilo (from LILO & STITCH) – I’m a lot like Lilo. Stubborn, weird, kooky, etc. Love her because she looks at the world a little differently, and she knows there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that at all.
- Larita (from EASY VIRTUE) – Larita, like all the characters in this movie, is flawed. She probably doesn’t try hard enough to get along with people, and she very often says the wrong thing. But she knows who she is, and she knows what she can and can’t deal with. In the end, she knows she has to choose between essentially sacrificing a part of herself or severing the ties that are holding her down, despite the pain it’ll cause. Her story resonated with me in a very personal way, and I imagine it always will.
- The Little Prince (from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince) – A constant reminder to always look for whimsy and to never grow up.
- Drew & Claire (from ELIZABETHTOWN) – I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to myself. When I set my mind to something, I almost always finish the job, and, on the rare occasion I’ve faced failure, it has, in short, been very difficult to deal with. Claire is a manic pixie dream girl for me just as much as for Drew, and seeing him learn from her, and also seeing her learn to give herself a little more credit, is something I benefit from every time I watch this movie.
So, there you have it. My 15 picks. I’d love to see what you have to say, too, so link up in the comments or, if you want, just leave your list there. Whatever works. 🙂