Posted on Thursday, December 24th, 2015 by Jacob Hall
Here we are: the grand finale of the ridiculous endeavor to rank all 122 significant characters in Quentin Tarantino‘s filmography. In case you missed them, you can find Part One and Part Two of every Quentin Tarantino character rankedby clicking on those links. And now it’s time to end this.
If you’ve decided to skip parts two and three of this series (and if so, what are you doing here?), here are the rules that I followed to assemble this list:
- In order to be included, the character must play a role in the plot of the film or interact with a major character.
- In order to be included, a character must have a name. If the character doesn’t have a name, they must have enough screen time or be significant enough to overrule this command.
- In order to be eligible, characters had to be in a feature film directed by Quentin Tarantino. This means characters from True Romance and From Dusk Till Dawn are ineligible. Since it’s not a full feature, I also disqualified Tarantino’s segment from Four Rooms.
- Any of those rules can be broken at any time, for any reason, if it means making this list worth reading.
And now: the grand finale, the final part of this three part series, which brings us to the top 25 Quentin Tarantino characters. Place your bets…
25. Lt. Archie Hicox
The Movie: Inglourious Basterds
The Actor: Michael Fassbender
Noteworthy Quote: “Well, if this is it, old boy, I hope you don’t mind if I go out speaking the King’s.”
Inglourious Basterds cast Michael Fassbender as British soldier and spy Archie Hicox before it was cool to cast Michael Fassbender in everything. Although the role was originally intended for Simon Pegg, it’s hard to imagine anyone else as Hicox, a steely military man who is impossibly good at blending in… until he’s not. Fassbender recognizes that he’s playing a variation on a specific type – the upper-crust, confident, unbowed British officer from so many World War II movies – and makes him mortal. His final moments, where he breaks from his German character to enjoy his glass of scotch and speak his native language one more time, are simultaneously badass and shattering.
24. O-Ren Ishii
The Movie: Kill Bill Vol. 1
The Actor: Lucy Liu
Noteworthy Quote: “As your leader, I encourage you from time to time, and always in a respectful manner, to question my logic. If you’re unconvinced that a particular plan of action I’ve decided is the wisest, tell me so, but allow me to convince you and I promise you right here and now, no subject will ever be taboo. Except, of course, the subject that was just under discussion. The price you pay for bringing up either my Chinese or American heritage as a negative is… I collect your fucking head. Just like this fucker here. Now, if any of you sons of bitches got anything else to say, now’s the fucking time!”
No film director has ever utilized Lucy Liu as well as Tarantino. O-Ren Ishii is one of the most spectacular villains in his filmography and Liu is obviously having a great time with the part. Rather than chomp on the scenery, she plays this master swordsman and Yakuza boss as fairly level-headed and soft-spoken… which only makes her one big outburst all the funnier and more shocking.
23. Fredrick Zoller
The Movie: Inglourious Basterds
The Actor: Daniel Brühl
Noteworthy Quote: “Who wants to send a message to Germany?”
If Fredrick Zoller was an American living in the United States in the year 2015, he’d be the kind of guy who grumbles about “SJWs” and puts a GamerGate hashtag on everything. The kind of “nice guy” who turns violent when a woman tells him no, Fredrick Zoller is one of Inglourious Basterd’s greatest monsters. He enters with a smile, shrugging under a veil of humility, but he’s actually as selfish and monstrous as the political party he represents in “Nation’s Pride.” Daniel Brühl’s performance perfectly captures the most toxic form of masculinity – the guy who thinks he deserves the attention of a woman.
22. Zoë Bell
The Movie: Death Proof
The Actor: Zoë Bell
Noteworthy Quote: “You wanna go get him?”
As an actress, Zoë Bell is perfectly adequate and a likable enough screen presence. As a fearless stuntwoman and walking special effect, she’s spectacular. After stepping in for Uma Thurman when things got dangerous in both Kill Bill movies, Bell was given the spotlight in Death Proof, playing a version of herself who gets menaced by a deranged killer in a deadly car… while she’s strapped herself to the hood of a 1970 Dodge Challenger. Watching this seasoned pro risk her life for our amusement is terrifying and a total rush instantly makes Zoë Bell one of the most memorable characters in the entire Tarantino canon.
21. Lt. Aldo Raine
The Movie: Inglourious Basterds
The Actor: Brad Pitt
Noteworthy Quote: “When you join my command, you take on debit. A debit you owe me personally. Each and every man under my command owes me one hundred Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps. And all y’all will git me one hundred Nazi scalps, taken from the heads of one hundred dead Nazis. Or you will die trying.”
Brad Pitt has always been a character actor trapped in the body of a movie star and Aldo Raine lets both halves of his acting persona fly. Grizzled and nasty and capable of inspiring true loyalty amongst his men, Raine is the kind of guy who probably deserves to go before a military tribunal for crimes against humanity… but you can’t argue with his results, especially since his targets are Nazis. Pitt chews into his southern accent with aplomb and makes the most out of his surprisingly limited screen time. Much like how Hans Landa’s nature is hidden behind European tact, Raine wears his good ol’ boy charms like a mask. This is a perversion of the kind of character Lee Marvin would have played a few decades ago and it is perfect.
20. Marsellus Wallace
The Movie: Pulp Fiction
The Actor: Ving Rhames
Noteworthy Quote: “The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.”
You feel Marsellus Wallace long before you actually see him. Tarantino keeps Ving Rhames’ powerful crime boss off camera as long as possible, treating him powerful, mythological even. Someone to be feared. Rhames’ deep voice and bulk only feed into that illusion. And then we meet him face-to-face… nd Butch runs him over with a car. Far worse things happen to Marsellus in the aftermath of this attempted hit-and-run, but the point has been made: the god of Pulp Fiction’s criminal underworld bleeds. Tarantino invites us to see how low he can fall and Rhames fearlessly takes us along for the ride.
19. Elle Driver
The Movie: Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2
The Actor: Daryl Hannah
Noteworthy Quote: “Now in these last agonizing minutes of life you have left, let me answer the question you asked earlier more thoroughly. Right at this moment, the biggest ‘R’ I feel is Regret. Regret that maybe the greatest warrior I have ever known, met her end at the hands of a bushwhackin’, scrub, alky piece of shit like you. That woman deserved better.”
Kill Bill didn’t trigger a grand second coming for Daryl Hannah roles, but you know what? It should have. Elle Driver is the second strongest villain in the Kill Bill movies (which is really saying something), a merciless force of nature whose personal code is defined solely by “how does this benefit me?” There’s not a lot to Elle on paper, but that’s the joy of the character. Unlike the other members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, there is no pathos here and nothing human to latch onto. She’s just a merciless killer. And oh, man, is she fun to watch.
18. Mr. Orange
The Movie: Reservoir Dogs
The Actor: Tim Roth
Noteworthy Quote: “We’ll make the move when they get back, so don’t pussy out on me now, Marvin. We’re just gonna sit here and bleed until Joe Cabot sticks his fucking head through that door.”
The iconic opening credits of Reservoir Dogs set you up for a movie about effortlessly cool criminals. The smash cut to Mr. Orange bleeding out in the backseat of a car, the bullet in his gut causing him to scream bloody murder, tells you what you’re actually getting. Tim Roth spends the bulk of Reservoir Dogs dying and he dies well – his crying, his yelps of pain, his addled attempted to come to grip with what’s happening to him, are genuinely horrifying. That he’s actually an undercover cop is another awful wrinkle to an already FUBAR’d situation.
17. Ordell Robbie
The Movie: Jackie Brown
The Actor: Samuel L. Jackson
Noteworthy Quote: “AK-47. The very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes.”
Ordell Robbie is an insecure dummy and he knows it. Upon first glance, this low-level arms dealer is Samuel L. Jackson doing his Samuel L. Jackson thing. But look closer. His desperation if evident from his first scene, where he cloaks himself in bravado and speaks in cliches. It’s telling that Jackie Brown revolves around Ordell’s desire to leave his business behind – how much longer can he keep at the facade? Jackson is fun when he’s playing with full-on braggadocio, but Ordell becomes next level when he’s backed into a corner and starts making mistakes. As the mask of confidence slips, Ordell the desperate murderer emerges.
16. Calvin Candie
The Movie: Django Unchained
The Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio
Noteworthy Quote: “Gentleman, you had my curiosity. Now you have my attention.”
The greatest trick Django Unchained pulls is convincing you that Leonardo DiCaprio’s Calvin Candie is the main villain. Everything you need to know about him is said before you even meet him: he’s a Francophile who doesn’t speak French and will be embarrassed if you attempt to communicate with him in that way. Candie, despite lording over a massive planation and commanding a personal army, is an idiot. To be more specific, he’s a grotesque, racist idiot with zero redeeming qualities who relies on his house slave, Stephen (see below) to keep him apprised of whatever mess he’s walked into. To see an actor DiCaprio’s caliber play such a buffoon is incredible.