5 Phenomenal Quentin Tarantino Characters


One of my favorite podcasts Filmspotting recently did a segment highlighting their favorite Quentin Tarantino characters. Prior to the release of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” I had been working on a variation of that very idea, but their show caused me to rethink what I was doing. So I’ve dialed it back to a more traditional thing. Simply put, these are five of Tarantino’s best characters. As a filmmaker QT is known for creating many attention-getting personalities. In light of that I wouldn’t call this the definitive list. But there’s no denying that these five Quentin Tarantino characters are nothing short of phenomenal.

#5 – Jackie Brown (“Jackie Brown”)


Tarantino has a history of reintroducing actors and actresses who stars may not shine as bright as they once did. One shining example is the casting of Pam Grier as the title character in his 1997 crime picture “Jackie Brown”. Jackie is a strong, street-smart woman making ends meet anyway she can. Grier pulls from her tough-as-nails 70’s blaxpoitation roles which were full of charisma and grit. Jackie is such an absorbing character.

#4 – Cliff Booth (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)


Brad Pitt has two list-worthy Tarantino characters to his credit. His brutal yet hilarious Aldo Raine from “Inglourious Basterds” would have this spot if not for Cliff Booth. Cliff is an easy-going, multi-layered character from Tarantino’s latest effort who has already drawn a wide range of interpretations (based on how you read the film’s many clues). Pitt absolutely shines as a late 1960’s stuntman plucked right out of a time capsule.

#3 – Jules Winfield (“Pulp Fiction”)


Samuel L. Jackson is clearly a Tarantino favorite. He has been in more of QT’s films than anyone else. It all started with “Pulp Fiction” and his endlessly quotable Jules Winfield. He’s a mob hitman with a penchant for pondering the meaning of life and enjoying a tasty burger. Much of Jackson’s well-known big screen personality is encapsulated in Jules who turns out to be more than a loud-mouth with a big gun and a nice Jheri curl.

#2 – The Bride (“Kill Bill”)


Throughout the two-movie tale of vengeance that is “Kill Bill” Uma Thurman’s Bride puts on several uniquely different faces. Surely the one that stands out most is the sword-wielding revenge-fueled assassin. But Tarantino gives her several more layers which make her a compelling character beyond the sheer physicality. But don’t get me wrong, watching her slice and dice is nothing short of exhilarating.

#1 – Colonel Hans Landa (“Inglourious Basterds”)


The opening sequence of Tarantino’s zany revisionist World War II tale “Inglourious Basterds” may be the filmmaker’s very best work. In the scene we are introduced to Nazi officer Hans Landa, a character with hints of absurdity but who can be utterly terrifying. He’s played by Christoph Waltz and lets just say there’s a good reason he won an Oscar for the performance. He’s a character brimming with menace and you can’t turn away from him.

And there is my list. What do you think? Agree or disagree with my picks? Please let me know what you think in the comments section below.

31 thoughts on “5 Phenomenal Quentin Tarantino Characters

  1. I’m with you on your list, good job! That said, one of Tarantino’s strengths are choosing ensembles who play well together. The 5 you chose are more the loners that shine amongst stellar ensembles. His movies wouldn’t be a good as they are without those supportive characters. I would love to see you do a list of support characters for each of his movies. I would also love to see you make a list of all of Tarantino’s cameos he’s done in his movies.

    • That is such a strong point. You’re exactly right. His movies are 100% ensemble pieces. In fact his stories wouldn’t function without strong supporting characters. They simply are ingrained in every story he tells.

  2. Shit, this is going to be hard considering that QT has created so many awesome characters. I think when the next QT films comes out, I’ll do a proper list of his best characters. There’s just too many that I love.

    • There are so many, right? Despite my issues with some of his movies, you just can’t deny his ability to create fantastic characters. It’s definitely a knack he has.

  3. Great list! I’m glad Jackie Brown made it in. I probably wouldn’t include Cliff because I wasn’t crazy about OUATIH but he was by far the best character in that film. I’d swap him with Shoshanna.

    • I LOVE Shoshanna and absolutely hated to leave her off this list. I guess as someone who (surprisingly) loved OUATIH, I had so much fun with that character. Anxious to see this a third time when it hits blu-ray in a few days.

    • I know it isn’t it awesome they almost hired me to play Jackie Brown but they said my hair looked too much like Gary Busey’s hey but at least I’ll be that Ralph Macchio

  4. Very cool post, man. It’s so hard to compile a list of QT’s characters as there’s so many to choose from. If you include True Romance then Pitt has three great characters and I also love Gary Oldman’s Drexl from that film.

    • I know man! If you include those characters the list becomes bigger and even harder to pick from. Like him or not, QT knows how to create high personality characters.

  5. Pingback: 5 Phenomenal Quentin Tarantino Characters — Keith & the Movies | First Scene Screenplay Festival

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