Inscrutable nutjobs

For a project I’m working on, I’m trying to think of filmdom’s great inscrutable nutjobs.

The idea is a character who appears to be foreign, opaque and impenetrable at first, but as the movie goes on reveals unexpected insights and tenderness.  Sort of a combination of the above folks, ie Roberto Benigni in Down By Law and Benicio del Toro in The Usual Suspects.

Your assistance in this matter is appreciated.

UPDATE: another good example: Brad Pitt in Snatch.

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31 Responses to “Inscrutable nutjobs”
  1. jkcarrier says:

    Charles Foster Kane in “Citizen Kane”, perhaps?

  2. dougo says:

    Perhaps One in City of Lost Children?

  3. edo_fanatic says:

    Just check out the movie “Ichi the Killer” if you want to see nutjobs.

  4. medox says:

    — Frankenstein’s Monster from Frankenstein (1931)
    — Chief from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

  5. sheherazahde says:

    Inscrutable nutjobs

    William ‘D-Fens’ Foster in Falling Down
    Tyler Durden and the Narrator in Fight Club

    Although both of those could be the more common “character who looks normal but gradually goes insane”.

  6. Donnie Wahlberg’s touching portrayal of “Duddits” in 2003’s incredible Dreamcatchers (possibly the second worst movie of the last ten years, next to Domino.)

  7. Anonymous says:

    Any film with Timothy Carey

    Check out any film that he appeared in (Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing” for one). He was a true original. And I dare say, del Toro ripped him off for “The Usual Suspects.”

  8. heathyr1158 says:

    Jean Reno in Leon?

  9. dougo says:

    Or Brad Pitt in Twelve Monkeys.

    Pretty much everyone in any David Lynch thing, starting with Eraserhead.

  10. yetra says:

    Dennis Hopper in River’s Edge?

  11. kornleaf says:

    almost anyone in king of hearts

    Capt./Maj. Bennett Marco from Manchurian Candidate (he was a bit nutz)

    Yoda from Star Wars Empire Strikes Back

    The blind man from oh brother where art thou

    Maude from Harold and Maude

    I want to thank you, this blog has gotten me thinking more about my writing and allowed me to write less linearly. Hopefully my screenplays will benifit.

    • Todd says:

      You must follow your muse of course, but I’m curious, what on my blog gave you the notion that you should write less linearly? If anything, I would have thought that my rigid pursuit of character motivation and its effect on plot structure would lead in the opposite direction.

      • kornleaf says:

        sorry, at work doing a mind syphoning job, i used the wrong word, just meant something better. I found myself (before reading your blog in depth) writing a script where one of the characters was weak and a little flat and I realized I didn’t know her well enough, what was driving her, what her wants and needs were. I am examining it more now.

        • Todd says:

          I owe my knowledge of film structure to Jeffrey Katzenberg. When I was working on Antz, I would start to describe a scene in symbolic terms or sociological terms or filmic terms and within a matter of seconds he would put up his hands and say “Stop, stop, stop — WHAT DOES THE GUY WANT?”

          He said it so often that I wrote it down on a postcard and stuck it up over my desk. Later I found out that the saying did not originate with Mr. Katzenberg, but is one of the driving principles of screenwriting.

          Hence the title of my blog.

  12. kornleaf says:

    i have been taught that most characters in cinema can be boiled down to panteonic archtypes, this type of character was described as the loki character.