Real-life role models can be oh so disappointing, where even our most treasured heroes delve into fraud, deception and scandal. Forget the flakes and dive into the world of film. Here are 10 of the most extraordinary fictional icons we can all learn from: to live life in the fast lane.
Star Wars: Episode IV – VI (1977-1983)
“I take orders from just one person: me.”
Being cool isn’t the way you dress or talk – it’s all about attitude. The devilishly charming smuggler from Corellia exudes confidence, and despite the fact that he’s constantly pitted against imperial fleets and masters of the Force, he doesn’t care for the odds and keeps his cool. Gangsters like Jabba The Hutt and Greedo don’t intimidate him, and he’ll shoot first and ask questions later. Like most cool dudes, Han rolls with a furry friend in a fast, custom (albeit, banged up) ride. So when an intergalactic princess tells you that she loves you, how should you respond? “I know”. Ice cold, baby.
“All I have in this world is my b*lls and my word, and I don’t break them for no one.”
You don’t need to be born with money to build your empire. Tony Montana certainly didn’t when he travelled the seas from Cuba to Miami in search of a better life. Working his way up from food-stand dishwasher to drug-mule and eventual crime lord, the hot-headed gangster quickly discovered that not everyone shared his loyalty and principled approach. Rather than betraying his own beliefs, he simply eliminates the ‘cockroaches’ that stand in his way – with fiery Cuban flair and profanity. Though his rise was soon followed by his fall, we can all live by his philosophy that, “The World Is Yours”, and you shouldn’t settle for anything less – even if it means dying for it.
Top Gun (1986)
“I feel the need…the need for speed!”
Sometimes, in order to grab the attention you deserve, you gotta break some rules – but you better make sure you can get away with it. There’s no one better at sweet-talking his superiors than Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. When it comes to flying F-14 tomcats, he’s the best of the best; and the troublemaker’s ingenious and gutsy flying tactics let him get away with almost everything. Though his big ego and recklessness force him to learn that there’s no ‘I’ in teamwork the hard way, the wily pilot demonstrates that you don’t become the best by being someone’s wingman – you gotta go right into the danger zone.
Wall Street (1987) and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)
“What’s worth doing is worth doing for money.”
Let’s be real. Nothing beats cold hard cash, and anything that does can most likely be bought (oh hush, you spiritualists). While it may be a shallow reality, the embodiment of greed – Gordon Gekko – inspired similar Wall Street merchants to go for the jugular (which effectively causes a financial crisis). Though the cigar-smoking, cut-throat stockbroker may not have set the best example through his manipulative means to accumulate wealth, he also represents much more than just corporate evil – that you should have greed for life, love and knowledge. So whatever you pursue, go the Gekko and do it with tenacity…and don’t forget that cash money.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
“If my answers frighten you, then you should cease asking scary questions.”
Arguably one of the baddest mothers in the history of film, Jules Winnfield can be as cool as cucumber one moment, and a righteous persecutor the next. Together with his slick partner in crime, Vincent Vega, our favourite gangster from Inglewood has no qualms reciting psalms before smoking fools (but not before he digs into your breakfast). Violent tendencies aside, Jules doesn’t let his job get in the way of his spirituality. Though we’re not sure if he truly leaves the thug life behind him, his path to becoming a better man is one that we can all walk with him on. And he ain’t too timid to give a good foot massage either.
Fight Club (1999)
“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
While we may not all suffer from split-personality disorders, we can relate to the idea of a having wild alter ego like the self-destructive minimalist Tyler Durden. It’s not hard to identify with Fight Club’s humble narrator, who bases his life on the things he owns. It’s not until he rids himself of his safe, creature comforts is he able to truly appreciate the power he wields, albeit as a different entity. The charisma, the confidence, the wild lust for life was within him all along. We’re not advocating subconsciously burning down your apartment and starting a violent revolution, but perhaps letting go of safe choices and embracing risk will do ya some good. You might just discover that you weren’t as boring as you thought.
Sin City (2005) and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014)
“Worth dying for. Worth killing for. Worth going to hell for. Amen.”
With a head as hard as granite and a lust for wailing on corrupt coppers, there’s no way we’d leave Marv off this list. The Sin City strip-club regular knows how to have a good time, whether it’s looking for a boozy bar fight or caressing blonde bombshells. Though he’d have no trouble pummelling a fella to a pulp for looking at him wrong, the brawlin’ brute knows how to treat a woman right and wouldn’t dream of harming her. On the contrary, when he learns of a lady being mistreated, he’ll make sure that the culprit is brought to ‘justice’ – and then some. The chivalrous knight in shining armour brings out the romantic in all of us, echoing the old saying that you should never judge a book by its cover. Take note, fellas.
Iron Man films and The Avengers films (2008 – TBA)
“Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk.”
So you’re not a born genius with a multi-billion dollar enterprise – big deal! Tony Stark wasn’t always a metal-marauding superhero either, but you better believe he owned the role when he had to blast his way out of a terrorist captivity in Afghanistan. But what makes the man when he’s not in the suit? Confidence – and a good dose of narcissism. The cheeky playboy is a hero that isn’t afraid to show off his true colours – and why would you when you’ve got tailored suits, designer shades and flashy rides to flaunt? Saving the world isn’t a walk in the park, so take a page from the Iron Man’s book and live lavishly in your precious downtime. Life’s too short to be a gloomy Bruce Wayne.
“I don’t carry a gun. I drive.”
So you’re the shy, quiet type? That’s okay, so is Driver – so shy, in fact, that we never even learnt his real name. What we do learn is that saying nothing at all sometimes says the most, and when you do finally break your silence, you know you’ll leave a lasting impression. Stunt driver by day, heist driver by night; the handsome, brooding loner is seemingly harmless until sh*t hits the fan. Anyone that takes on the mob for an unrequited love and isn’t afraid to get a little bit of brain on his boots – all the while in a totally b*tchin’ scorpion jacket – is all right in our books. There’s no need to talk the talk if you can walk the walk…or, er, drive the drive.
The Great Gastby (1974 and 2013)
“My life, old sport, my life…my life has got to be like this. It’s got to keep going up.”
Rich, influential, and host of the most bangin’ house parties, Jay Gatsby is a lad that lives unashamedly fast. The dapper gentleman is an embodiment of the American Dream, going from rags to swag with nothing more than ambition (and knowing how to make a quick buck with bootleggers). While we can dream of making it big and becoming the most talked-about in town, the most important lesson from Fitzgerald’s tragic protagonist is that no matter how much money you throw into reinventing yourself, there’s no escaping your past (or lack of one). Capricious Daisys may love you and leave you, so you’re better off being ‘you’. Embrace it, don’t waste it.
This article was originally published in JUICE Singapore January 2015, Issue #196, and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.