The 13-ish Best Edgar Wright Movie Characters

The 13-ish Best Edgar Wright Characters

Edgar Wright‘s latest feature film hits theaters this week, and by all accounts Baby Driver is another winner blending action, laughs, and Wright’s own unique sensibilities. (Don’t take my assumption for it though, check out Jacob Hall’s review out of SXSW.) Wright has yet to deliver anything less than a very good time at the movies, and while a lot of factors go into an acclaimed film, one of his many strengths as a filmmaker is in the variety of fun and fun-loving characters he packs into his work.

The scripts are obviously key to the films’ highly quotable nature, but pairing the words on the page with particular performers is what ultimately results in such memorable characters. That combination has resulted in a bounty of fun, funny, and fascinating characters in Wright’s films, and while some are leads, others only manage a few minutes of screen time. It’s an issue of quality trumping quantity, and it’s why someone with two scenes in a movie can be far more memorable than someone who’s in nearly the entire thing. What I’m saying is Shaun of the Dead‘s Ed is an obnoxious twat whose “funny” behavior upsets the film’s delicate tonal balance and ultimately keeps it removed from absolute greatness. Look, I don’t like saying it anymore than you like hearing it, but there it is.

It’s also why the list below is heavy on the male members and light on the ladies. Wright’s films feature plenty of women, but you have to look all the way back to his UK television series, Spaced, to find an example of one with meat on her character’s bones. But that’s a think-piece for a different time. For now let’s keep things moving with a look at the best characters in Edgar Wright’s feature films.

sod jessica hynes

13. Yvonne (Shaun of the Dead)

“Glad to see someone survived.”

Yvonne (Jessica Hynes) pops up briefly three times in the film, but she makes the cut here despite her brief screen time and her lack of humorous dialogue. She’s an old friend of Shaun’s and his doppelganger in many ways outside of one – she’s a responsible adult. There’s a reason she literally scares Shaun in two out of her three appearances, as she represents the concept of “growing up,” which frightens him far more than a zombie horde ever could. Her comedic payoff comes in their second meeting, when we see her posse is a near identical pairing to his own, but it’s her final appearance that cements her value. She arrives, along with the troops, to find Shaun and Liz in the pub’s basement, and it’s that arrival of maturity and responsibility that saves the couple’s lives and love.

hf bill bailey

12. Sergeant Turner (Hot Fuzz)

“Nobody tells me nothin’.”

Turner (Bill Bailey) doesn’t get much to do here, but he still delivers some laughs with the line above. Similarly, the “revelation” that he’s actually twins has no bearing on the story, but still fits in nicely with Wright’s ongoing attraction to the concept of doubles and copies that includes Shaun and Yvonne’s mirrored survivor groups in Shaun of the Dead, Nega Scott in Scott Pilgrim, and the replacement androids in The World’s End. Finally, and this is more of a personal reason for his appeal, he’s almost always seen reading a different Iain Banks novel. No one’s probably told him so, but he has great taste in writers.

sod bill nighy

11. Philip (Shaun of the Dead)

“You’ve got red on you.”

Shaun’s dad died when he was just a kid and he’s hated his stepfather Philip (Bill Nighy) in the decade-plus since. The man is a bastion of serenity in the light of that dismissal, and his calm demeanor even carries over into the zombie apocalypse as evident in his response to being bitten – “I’m perfectly alright. I ran it under a cold tap.” It’s a small role, but Nighy’s performance fills it with such regret and warmth making the the pair’s reconciliation scene towards the end all the more affecting.

sp vegan police

10. Vegan Police (Scott Pilgrim vs the World)

“It’s milk and eggs, bitch.”

Ribbing vegans is low-hanging fruit, and while Wright succumbs to the typical (and never all that funny) bit about a vegan secretly eating meat (Ha!) he redeems himself a hundred-fold by moving it all well beyond the usual one-joke premise. The vegan superpower gag is already fantastic, but the Vegan Police? Well they’re just genius. Thomas Jane and Clifton Collins Jr. absolutely kill it with what amounts to a minute of aggressively sincere screen time, and their high five on the way out seals the deal.

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