Often when contemplating the creation of fictional characters – what makes them do what they do, or what makes them who they truly are – I’ll watch movies or read books about damaged people, because (as we all (writers) should know) flawless characters are boring and no human makes it very far in life unblemished.
Today I watched the first movie that received high tributes for one of my favorite actors, Tom Hardy who can play anything because of the depths he is willing to go into the human psyche. Anyway, the movie is Stuart: A Life Backwards. The synopsis: A writer takes a backwards look at the life of his unlikely friend Stuart, a homeless alcoholic who experienced a traumatic event in his childhood.
I laughed, I cried and I came out of the movie with even more (if possible) admiration for my favorite actor. This movie was based on a true story. And even though it’s impossible to put mere words to the human experience that rises above verse, we as writers can aspire to hold a mirror up to our characters and reflect what we see in the world – and if we delve into our writerly craft – what they might see in the world. This character Stuart was charismatic and abhorrent at the same time – abhorrent because it can be difficult to look at the things we find disturbing; homelessness, disease, drug addiction, violence and fear. Tom Hardy danced like a skilled ballerina around each of these issues of the human condition. His (character’s) loud abrasive communications with the world were a beautiful soul-sick opera.
My head is spinning with ideas on how to write more compelling characters, characters who can dance on fire and whose hearts sing to the universe for mercy.
Oh, and if you haven’t been watching the new Tom Hardy TV series titled, Taboo (2017) you’re really missing out on some GREAT characters. Well, I’m off to create.