13 Amazing Quentin Tarantino Characters

By @_lookcloser
13 Amazing Quentin Tarantino Characters

There’s really not much you can say about Tarantino that most film fans don’t already know–he is one of the most famous names in Hollywood, and for good reason. Even though his incredible eye for detail and storytelling are unbelievably good, his work would not be as prominent or industry celebrated if it not for the actors who bring his notorious characters to life. In this month’s feature the staff had as easy time coming up with 13 of our favourite characters from Quentin Tarantino’s films, many of which were synonymously ranked. Interestingly, Django Unchained, Pulp Fiction, and Inglorious Basterds each had three mentions that made it into our list.

So have a look for yourself and judge where you’d have put these characters in among your favourite (maybe some wouldn’t make it?) and see if it’s similar. We’d love to hear your thoughts and if you want to tell us your favourite Tarantino legend then just drop us a comment below!

13 Amazing Quentin Tarantino Characters

#13 – Max Cherry (Jackie Brown)

Max Cherry Jackie Brown

Max Cherry (Robert Forester in the role of his life) is far and away my favorite Tarantino character, and for me, the one that has the most depth. Cherry is a bail bondsman who, for the lack of a better word, bails out Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) after she is pinched for smuggling a load of money and cocaine into the country (she’s a stewardess for a low rent Mexican airlines). Grier is great, but to me the film is owned by Forester. Tarantino’s dialogue and the beats that Forester hits combine to create a character that has years of sadness hidden behind his old squinty puppy dog eyes. Cherry seems to always be ahead of the game, even when he seems to be acting aloof. Everything we identify with his through Cherry’s eyes. He hardly has to say anything and we totally understand his point or his motivations. His interactions with Grier (particularly the final scene of the film) and especially Samuel L. Jackson are pitch perfect. Forester deservedly walked away with an Oscar nomination for his work here and in my opinion he should’ve won. Max Cherry was the role Tarantino was born to bring to the silver screen and the role that Robert Forester has been waiting his whole life for. [Blake Ginithan]

#12 – Lt. Aldo Raine (Inglourious Basterds)

Lt. Aldo Raine Inglourious Basterds

Brad Pitt’s accent aside, there are some seriously enjoyable aspects of Aldo Raine’s personality. Firstly, he’s straightforward, bringing us simplicity without stupidity; he doesn’t mince his words and this gives him an air of trustworthiness and reliability. Secondly, he’s a natural leader – he inspires others and isn’t afraid to take charge and get things done. And thirdly, but certainly not least, he’s hysterically funny. Granted, much of the humour we get from him isn’t intentional on his part – whether it’s his poorly accented “Arrivederci” or simply his entire look, Tarantino’s taken extra measures to make sure we laugh. This isn’t just a simple joke, however, as it provides some much-needed lightness in the face of Aldo Raine’s unshakeable desire for Nazi scalps. In the end, Pitt’s whole-hearted performance ensures that even Tarantino’s signature gore isn’t enough to put us off feeling endeared toward his character. [Pavi Ramani]

#11 – Shosanna (Inglourious Basterds)

Shosanna Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterd’s Shosanna may not be as industrious a revenger as Tarantino’s Bride from Kill Bill, but she’s just as bloodthirsty. As a child, having witnessed her family’s murder at the hands of Nazi “Jew Hunter” Hans Landa, she narrowly escapes the same fate. She is given opportunity to enact revenge years later as the now owner of a cinema, armed with plenty of flammable nitrate film. The perfect setting for Landa, and the Fuhrer himself, to hold their film premiere and end up in flames. Shosanna is hard-edged and hell-bent. As she smokes her French cigarettes and endures Landa and his strudel-loving smugness, her hatred seethes through. She’s also given one of Tarantino’s best montages as she prepares to look her best for the night’s bloodbath to the tune of David Bowie’s Cat People (Putting Out Fire). A French Jewish woman taking down the Nazis? Makes for a satisfying historical rewrite. [Ananda Dillon]

#10 – Butch Coolidge (Pulp Fiction)

Butch Coolidge Pulp Fiction

For a man who’s used to fighting with his fists, he sure knows his way around a samurai sword. Bruce Willis turns in the performance of a lifetime as Butch Coolidge, Pulp Fiction’s boxer-on-the-run whose most prized possession is his daddy’s watch. What’s great about Butch is his staunch sentimentality and reverence for his father, fueled by his hot-headed rage and tough-guy demeanor; he’s a man, but he’ll always be his father’s little boy. His basement salvation of Ving Rhames’ Marsellus Wallace is one of Tarantino’s very best scenes. [Bernard Boo]

#9 – Stephen (Django Unchained)

Stephen Django Unchained

Who would have guessed that Django Unchained would have given us Samuel L. Jackson’s best performance in years? The last time Jackson had a significant role in one of Tarantino’s films was well over a decade ago in Jackie Brown (with some sly cameos in Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds), so it was easy to assume that he wouldn’t have a major part in this film. But the real shock came when it turned out that Leonardo DiCaprio’s sneering Calvin Candie wasn’t the true villain after all. It was Jackson’s role as Stephen, Candie’s house slave, that turned out to be the real antagonist in the movie. A man born and raised in slavery, Stephen turns out to be smarter than any of his masters, but unfortunately his role of servitude has made him use his strengths against his own interests. Instead of reducing Django Unchained to an ‘Us vs Them’ revenge fantasy, Tarantino cleverly used Stephen to subvert expectations and expose a side of slavery that the public isn’t accustomed to. It was smart, unexpected and shows how much Tarantino has matured over the years as a filmmaker. [CJ Prince]

#8 – Vincent Vega (Pulp Fiction)

Vincent Vega Pulp Fiction

It may be easy for Vincent Vega to get overshadowed by his extremely vocal partner (played by Samuel L. Jackson), but Vincent’s cool, calm, and collective demeanor perfectly balances out the duo’s equilibrium. The audience sympathizes with his character when he is given the difficult task of killing the bosses wife and then with all the mistakes he makes along the way. When Pulp Fiction was first released many people believed John Travolta’s career had become stale with ever since his early dancing days of Saturday Night Fever and Grease, but Vincent’s wonderful character revived his career (and was still able to showcase some of those dancing moves in a scene). [Dustin Jansick]

#7 – Mr. Blonde (Reservoir Dogs)

Mr. Blonde Reservoir Dogs

It’s always the quiet ones. The rabid-hellhound-off-the-leash of the Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) propels Tarantino’s non-heist movie constantly forward with his psycho-killer swagger and unpredictable bursts hyper-violence (both off-screen and on.) His sadistic “cop-mutilation-two-step” to the super sounds of Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle With You” is arguably as, if not more, iconic than Vincent Vega’s (Blonde’s Tarantino-verse brother) Jack Rabbit Slim’s twist-off scene. Mr. Blonde is such a vital character because he’s a deadly wild card, a ticking time bomb scary enough to make a band of professional criminals–and us–feel helplessly out of control. “Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy? Or are you gonna bite?” [Bernard Boo]

#6 – Jackie Brown (Jackie Brown)

Jackie Brown

Pam Grier seemed to never get the respect she deserved as the original female action star (she predates Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, the one who gets all the plaudits, by 7 years). Grier’s portrayal of Jackie Brown is essentially if one of her action characters from the 70’s retired from ass kicking, had no money and had to resort to smuggling money and drugs for a lowly Manhattan Beach drug dealer. Tarantino gives Grier the role of career as an aging female stewardess who is barely making ends meet and has nothing to fall back on. Grier is more than up for the challenge. She’s street smart. She couldn’t tell you what E=MC2 is, but could easily hustle you out of half a million dollars. Grier and Tarantino team up to create a character that is smart and sexy. Jackie Brown is an action star that doesn’t rely on using violence to solve her issues, but her wits. 35 years after Grier burst onto the screen, Tarantino finally gave her a role that she deserved and one that had mainstream audiences cheering from the rafters. [Blake Ginithan]

#5 – Calvin Candie (Django Unchained)

Calvin Candie Django Unchained

Those same icy blue eyes Leonardo DiCaprio uses to capture female hearts in many of his early films sparkle with a sinister energy in his role as Calvin Candie. Owner of Candyland, the plantation where his slaves toil away, Candie trains slaves as Mandingo fighters and then forces them to kill or be killed against other slaves. This spoiled brat of a villain is the bully whose toys you’d never want to steal, which is precisely what our hero has set out to do in Django Unchained. Candie’s exuberance and energy throughout the film are what keep him terrifying, a truly loose cannon. When the ruse is up and Candie realizes he’s being conned, his condescending and malicious lesson in phrenology to Django and Dr. Schultz is terrifying, and that’s before he’s even begun shouting and smashing the dinnerware. A pompous bastard ‘til the end, his yellow-tooth-grinned insistence that Dr. Schultz shake his hand leads to a most satisfying demise. Shot through the badge of his foppery, a white carnation over his heart. [Ananda Dillon]

#4 – Dr. King Schultz (Django Unchained)

Dr. King Schultz Django Unchained

Dr King Shultz’s character has, at its core, something that appeals to all of us – the ability to be undeniably badass (he shoots baddies!) whilst also having a moral compass of gold. Indeed, there’s no aspect of him that was designed to be even slightly ambiguous about his lovability. But the reason he’s such a fantastic character goes further than this; he does it all with a flare and charm that we’re instinctively drawn to. Much of this comes from Tarantino’s lines – he’s just as much of a “silver-tongued devil” as he accuses Django of being – but Christoph Waltz, as always, brings a certain whimsical quality with him that propels him from the realm of enjoyable characters to that of irresistible people. With his compassion for the vulnerable and his impeccable speaking style, I think it’s safe to say most of us left this film wishing we were a little more like King Shultz. [Pavi Ramani]

#3 – Jules Winnfield (Pulp Fiction)

Jules Winnfield Pulp Fiction

Samuel L. Jackson is blessed with some of the best lines of dialog in Pulp Fiction with his role as Jules Winnfield, which is now a rather iconic role. Jules is a vociferous hitman that you find yourself starting to fall for during his infamous rant about how the French call the Quarter Pounder with Cheese a Royale with Cheese. In typical Tarantino fashion, the character is filled with quirks, like insisting on getting into character before busting in to kill the target and fixation of the bible verse Ezekiel 25:17. Yeah, Jules is a real bad motherfucker (just check is wallet) whose foul-mouthed monologues and erratic behavior make him a quotable wild card of a character. Playing Jules Winnfield is without a doubt Samuel L. Jackson’s finest performance to date, one that is truly unforgettable. [Dustin Jansick]

#2 – The Bride (Kill Bill)

The Bride Kill Bill

Uma Thurman’s portrayal of Beatrix Kiddo or “The Bride” is one of the most memorable performances among Tarantino films, and if you’re a big Tarantino fan, then you’ll probably have The Bride in your top 10 favourite characters of all time. Driven by nothing but revenge, Kiddo’s journey spans over two films (or volumes) and takes you down the remorseless path of Beatrix’s desire for destruction and overwhelming hate. Her passion to kill those that tried to kill her is limitless and she will not stop until they are brought to a violent end. I have nothing but admiration for the Samurai skill and theme that Tarantino brings to life–it’s such a different take on the “seeking revenge” plotline. Kill Bill is one of my all time favourite films and The Bride stands proudly next to her Hattori Hanzo in my eyes as being one of the greatest single characters Hollywood has ever seen. [Amy Priest]

#1 – Col. Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)

Col. Hans Landa Inglourious Basterds

Despite an underwhelming reaction at its Cannes premiere (a consensus that proved to be completely off-base), Inglourious Basterds got unanimous praise for what is easily the best part about the entire film: Hans Landa. A Nazi detective nicknamed “The Jew Hunter”, Landa is the perfect movie villain: Smart, evil, charming, clever, scary and truly entertaining to watch. The opening scene, where Landa interrogates a French family hiding Jewish refugees, shows that Landa is just too damn good at what he does to let anyone slip by him (and, later on, that turns out to be very true for some chatacters). What separates Landa from other villainous Nazis in film is how his bad behaviour is fueled more by self-preservation than a sincere belief in the Nazi ideology. It comes as no surprise that by the end Landa manages to weasel his way out of certain death, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise given everything we’ve seen beforehand. Hans Landa was the first collaboration between Tarantino and Christoph Waltz, and it proved to be a fruitful one. Waltz won Best Actor at Cannes despite having a supporting role, he went on to win almost every major acting award that year and his career has skyrocketed as a result. All of it was deserved, and it should come as no surprise that Hans Landa is our favourite Tarantino character. [CJ Prince]

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