So we’ll get to it.
Our team of bipartisan movie researchers has elected one movie character per state to be the state’s cinematic representative. (Think state birds for movie characters.) We present to you: The United States of Movie Characters Map.
To learn about the intense process for how we made our selections, scroll down to the very bottom.
Here’s what you’ll discover: Tennessee was to close to call, 6% of the US is represented by Kevin Costner and a Brooklyn girl won over Alabama. As a bonus, we elected a President of the USA of Movie Characters.
In alphabetical order . . .
Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) in My Cousin Vinny (1992)
Why: No, she isn’t from the Yellowhammer State. No, she doesn’t have a Southern Accent. But the quick-witted car aficionado came into The Heart of Dixie, stole the show and won an Oscar. End of story.
Joe Paxton (Craig T. Nelson) in The Proposal (2009)
Why: It takes a real man like Joe to survive in The Last Frontier (or in a beautiful waterfront Alaskan estate). Disclaimer: Our appreciation for the tv show Coach absolutely influenced this decision.
Herbert ‘H.I.’ McDunnough (Nic Cage) in Raising Arizona (1987)
Why: Great tan. Great hair. Great father of a baby he kidnapped. H.I. really wants to embody the spirit of The Grand Canyon State. (Plus, he knows his was around a foldable lounge chair.)
Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) in True Grit (1969)
Why: His name is Rooster and he wears an eye patch. It’s that simple.
Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates) in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Why: Linda’s iconic exit from Stacy’s pool sealed the deal. If the Oscars had a lifetime bikini achievement award she would get it.
Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) in Misery (1990)
Why: We all dream of owning a lodge in the Rocky Mountains like Annie Wilkes. What you do in that lodge is up to you.
Joanna Eberhart (Katharine Ross) in The Stepford Wives (1975)
Why: Because Joanna made married women more afraid to move to Connecticut than ever. (Despite the fear of robot wife-swapping we hear The Nutmeg State is lovely.)
Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) in Wayne’s World (1992)
Why: This little clip has the best state-cameo in movie history. The First State should be proud. #PartyOnWayne
Tony Montana (Al Pacino) in Scarface (1983)
Why: This country was built on foreigners, like Tony, coming to the US with nothing and becoming something. And if you take out the murder, drugs and “little friends,” then Mr. Montana is a beautiful rags-to-riches story in South Beach.
Ed (Jon Voight) in Deliverance (1972)
Why: Ed has an appreciation for the little things like canoeing in Georgia, dueling banjos and not getting killed by backwoods locals – we can all relate.
Anne Marie Chadwick (Kate Bosworth) in Blue Crush (2002)
Why: Two words: surfer chic.
Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) in Napoleon Dynamite
Why: He won just with his dance moves alone. #VotePedro. Honorable Mention: Lafawnduh
Jakes Blues (John Belushi) in Blues Brothers (1980)
Why: 3 reasons: (1) He’s got soul. (2) He wears sunglasses at night. (3) We’re not one to stop anyone that’s on a “mission from god.”
Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) in Hoosiers
Why: Coach Dale won this in a landslide. Hoosier state. Hoosier movie. And this iconic speech. He is the godfather of the slow clap.
Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) in Field of Dreams
Why: Because if you move to Iowa and don’t build a baseball diamond then it’s a fail in our books. (And in Ray’s book.)
Toto (Terry) in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Why: Toto is the Marlon Brando of dog actors. “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more” has been uttered approximately 6,912,437,547 times.
Secretariat (Trolley Boy) in Secretariat (2010)
Why: This leggy creature is a bigger deal at the Kentucky Derby than Mint Juleps. Well, almost.
M’Lynn Eatenton (Sally Field) in Steele Magnolias (1989)
Why: 50 States and not one grandma is represented. Until Now. And it might as well be a lovable Southern Belle.
Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Why: In this fictional Maine state prison, Mr Dufresne endures it all: prison. Inmate “abuse.” Crawling through, well, you know. He got our vote.
Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake) in Hairspray (1988)
Why: Tracy is to hairspray what Darryl Jenks is to Soul Glo.
Will Hunting (Matt Damon) in Good Will Hunting (1997)
Why: There are 1,000 reasons. But we’ll just give one. This epic scene at a Harvard bar.
Robocop (Peter Weller) in Robocop (1987)
Why: Tough. Humble. Made of Metal. (If only he was assembled on Henry Ford’s assembly line.)
Max (Walter Matthau) in Grumpy Old Men (1993)
Why: Three words: Flannel Jacket Icon
Harry Rex (Oliver Platt) in A Time to Kill (1996)
Why: Because a quick-witted man in a seersucker suit that responds to the name Harry Rex is Mississippi royalty.
Esther (Judy Garland) in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Why: A cute Missourian that’s forced to pick up everything and leave for the Big Apple but promises to comeback to St. Louis. That’s loyalty to a town. Plus, we assume she was Nelly’s inspiration.
Paul Maclean (Brad Pitt) in A River Runs Through It (1992)
Why: After watching this performance, you’ll be mad that your childhood didn’t involve fly fishing with Norm and Paul on Blackfoot River. (His looks didn’t hurt his case either.)
Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) in Nebraska (2013)
Why: Do we really need to explain?
Phil (Bradley Cooper) in The Hangover (2009)
Why: Honorable mention goes to Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. At the end of the day, Phil was the leader of the wolfpack.
|NEW HAMPSHIRE |
Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) in What About Bob (1991)
Why: The Beard. Oh, and because the author of ‘Baby Steps’ goes to The Granite State for sailing vacations and passive-aggressive dinners with Bill Murray.
Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) in The Godfather (1972)
Why: Afraid to know what would happen if we didn’t pick The Godfather.
Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez) in Young Guns (1988)
Why: In 1988, Emilio Estevez + Billy the Kid = Cinematic Gold. And because ‘Breaking Bad’ isn’t a movie, yet.
Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) in Wall Street (1987)
Why: The pinstripe suits, the slicked back hair, the massive cellular phone. The financial capital of the world was at an all time high with him. Insider trading has never looked so handsome.
Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) in Bull Durham (1988)
Why: Real baseball team. Real town. Really good baseball name. How do you not give it to a guy named “Crash?”
Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) in Fargo (1996)
Why: Marge might have nailed the state accent better than anyone on this list. (Yes, even Matt Damon.)
Tommy (Chris Farley) in Tommy Boy (1995)
Why: We wouldn’t have “Fat guy in a little coat” if it wasn’t for a little car parts factory in Sandusky, Ohio that employed this guy.
Dr. Jo Harding (Helen Hunt) in Twister (1996)
Why: Nothing like a hard-as-nails female that isn’t afraid to go head-to-head with an F5 tornado.
Chunk (Jeff Cohen) in The Goonies (1985)
Why: Because Portlandia isn’t a movie. And he has the best one syllable nickname of all time.
Buster (Brian Doyle-Murray) in Groundhog Day (1993)
Why: Buster is the best friend of Punxsutawney Phil and he makes the top hat work.
Charlie Baileygates / Hank Evans (Jim Carey) in Me, Myself & Irene (2000)
Why: Nothing portrays Rhode Island more than a caucasian state trooper that suffers from multiple personalities and has three African-American sons. Right?
Allie (Rachel McAdams) in The Notebook (2004)
Why: A Southern Belle. Plantation’s in Charleston. Southern drawls. A kiss in the South Carolina rain. This was not even close.
Lieutenant Dunbar (Kevin Costner) in Dances With Wolves (1990)
Why: How else would we know what “Tatonka” means? Thank you South Dakota and Lt. Dunbar.
Djay (Terrence Howard) in Hustle & Flow (2005)
Why: ‘Walk the Line.’ ‘The Firm.’ Tennessee was a toss up. With two amazing music cities in the state (Nashville and Memphis), we just wanted a movie that had some soul. Plus, we needed a pimp on this map.
David Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey) in Dazed and Confused (1993)
Why: No cowboys. No quarterbacks. No stereotypes. Austin is, arguably, the best thing about Texas so we’re highlighting the character that gets that better than anyone.
Aron Ralston (James Franco) in 127 Hours (2010)
Why: He cut his arm off. Enough said.
Thorny (Jay Chandrasekhar) in Super Troopers (2001)
Why: Thorny is an upstanding man of the law that might crash the occasional keg party in Vermont. But, really, it’s because of his mustache.
Coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) in Remember the Titans (2000)
Why: We’re a sucker for a good coach speech. Especially, when it happens at Gettysburg.
Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) in Twilight (2009)
Why: Honorable mention: Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) in Sleepless in Seattle. If that movie would have ended on the Space Needle instead of on the Empire State Building then we would have a different situation.
Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) in Zoolander (2001)
Why: He is a really, really, really ridiculously good looking coal miner. Well, he was for at least 44 seconds.
John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) in Public Enemies (2009)
Why: When your state serves as the race track for a notorious outlaw on the run, well, you earn some serious street cred. Plus, we’re still waiting on a Zombie Thriller at a dairy farm.
Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) in Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Why: Rodeos. Cattle rides. Campfire building. Ennis is a man’s man. (We’ll just leave it at that.)
To top it off, here’s the President of the United States of Movie Characters.
President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) in Air Force One (1997)
Why: Shaking Hands. Kissing Babies. Single-handedly taking back a plane from ruthless hijackers. What more does the man have to do to get your vote?
ABOUT THE UNITED STATES OF MOVIE CHARACTERS SELECTION PROCESS:
To tackle this massive project, we listed the top movies that took place in each state. Then we ranked the performances in those movies by one main factor: was the performances memorable? Please don’t confuse memorable with “award winning.” We don’t judge the quality of a person’s performance. (The Academy hasn’t let us in yet.) But we can determine if the actor’s performance was memorable and somehow reflects that state.
To pick the final winner, we narrowed each state down to two movie characters and did a heated round table debate to squeeze out the winners.
This is what caused the most debate: Kevin Costner represents 3 states (it’s hard to argue against Dances with Wolves, Bull Durham and Field of Dreams.) The Delaware argument always came back to one scene from Wayne’s World. Animals are characters too, right? Cartoons were immediately disqualified. Real people played by actors were allowed if that person wasn’t on any form of United States currency.
Don’t agree? Let us know what you think.