Most people would agree that the mark of a fantastic television show or film is a memorable character. Of course, the script writing and casting is equally important, but a majority of people base their interest in who they are watching, rather than what they are watching, and if there is a certain character who appeals to them, they are more likely to continue watching said show or film. It doesn’t matter if the character is the main protagonist or the sidekick- all that matters is that they command an audience, and do so perfectly. They could be the sweetest character, or the rudest, but they are definitely a favourite.
In recent years, some characters have taken their role further than others. A prime example is Richard Castle of the television show Castle (played by the talented Nathan Fillion). There have been crime fiction books written and published in his name (just like in the show) but the author photo on the back of the books is of Nathan Fillion, who attends all signings of the books in character. All promotional material is delivered by Fillion, and there is also a well-followed Twitter account in Castle’s name. This is a case of a fictional character walking beyond the realm of his platform.
Chasing this unusual idea, other film and television writers have also followed suit, penning their own ‘character-written’ books. Below are three examples…
The Gold Standard: Rules To Rule By – Ari Gold
Entourage is a Los Angeles-based show that chronicles the always-crazy, fantastic life of actor Vincent Chase on his rise to stardom. Along with his older brother Johnny Drama, his best friend E (Eric) and the loveable Turtle, Vinnie attends the hottest parties, dates the hottest girls and goes through all the trappings of a high-profile actor’s lifestyle. But it’s his powerful, sarcastic, witty, arrogant, and sometimes vulnerable agent Ari Gold who most fans of the show admit to loving most. Ari (played by Jeremy Piven) lives up to his name- Gold- and is one of the best characters you’ll see on television. He is always to the point, even if what he says could be construed as rude, abrupt or inappropriate, and this ‘business’ book released in his name follows a similar vein. There are 18 rules listed in this book that, if you follow them, could make you as successful in life as Ari (although there are no guarantees), and these are divided into three parts- vision, reputation and army. Following Ari’s quick-witted, name-dropping style, this book shares anecdotes from Ari’s early years as an agent and the most influential moments in his life previous to that time, ending in his meteoric rise to power and total domination of Hollywood. He mentions many famous names in this book (explaining his role in their rise to fame), and makes many controversial statements typical of his character when describing the processes used to rule over everyone. Some dubious-looking ‘photos’ of Ari with important dignitaries also feature in the middle of this book, but as it is, you’re not reading the book just to see the photos.
This book is a must for people who love Ari’s character, or those who simply want to get ahead in life while reading a humorous and passionately written business bible. If you’re easily offended, or do not appreciate Ari’s unique brand of humour, then it might be best to avoid this book and instead tackle a Warren Buffet-style business management book instead.
Rating: 4/5 Published: May 2015
Let Me Off At The Top! My Classy Life And Other Musings– Ron Burgundy
Without a doubt, Anchorman (and its sequel) would have to be amongst actor Will Ferrell’s most quotable and popular films. With his perfectly coiffed hair and trimmed moustache, his character- Ron Burgundy- is San Diego’s (and indeed the world’s) most beloved news anchor. Because of this unwavering popularity, the team behind the film have released a tell-all biography penned by the man himself, which is sure to answer every question you ever may have had regarding the always eventful life of Mr Burgundy. This book covers it all- his deadbeat life as a child, his remarkable rise to the top of the anchorman career ladder, his wheeling and dealing with celebrities and politicians, and the sometimes criminal and always colourful life events he has experienced. Also mentioned are the formation and longevity of his news team, his best friend Baxter (who fans will remember is also his dog) and his relationship with his beautiful wife and ‘a damn fine woman anchorman’ Veronica Corningstone.
Full of misogynistic references (as typical of the 70s-style era the film was set in), and more than a few politically-incorrect statements, it’s a challenge to read this book without putting Will Ferrell’s face and voice to the text. He essentially is the character of Ron Burgundy, and when reading this ‘autobiography’, I found that the two were not interchangeable. The book also features a collection of photographs, some drawings and some rather incredible (some may say unbelievable) tales. This is a must-read for fans of the Anchorman franchise.
Rating: 3.5/5 Published: June 2014
The Bro Code – Barney Stinson (with Matt Kuhn)
If you have ever watched How I Met Your Mother, you would know that one of the most popular characters is eccentric womanizer Barney Stinson (played by Neil Patrick Harris). He has few purposes in life than to meet, sleep with and discard women, and lives by a set of standards he calls The Bro Code- a rule book, if you will, on how to best live your life as a Bro (and a code of conduct specific to achieving the above goals). For the ‘benefit’ of males everywhere, this ‘rule book’ has been published under Barney Stinson’s name, and is available for purchase. Three other books have also been printed (Bro On The Go, The Playbook and The Bro Code For Parents: What To Expect When You’re Awesome), which proves that his ‘advice’ is much sought after by fans of the show.
As you would expect, the content is quite sexist, but that runs wholly in line with the character of Barney Stinson, and the persona he portrays as a man slut on the prowl for hot chicks. Most of what you will read is amusing in a misogynistic kind of way (it’s difficult to take what you read seriously), and if you’re not offended, will most likely find the text quite funny (especially because the character believes in everything he is writing). Feminists ought to steer clear of this book, because it might just set tempers boiling, but fans of the show, and fans of Barney in particular, will adore this homage to the over-the-top and ridiculous printing of the rules he holds dear.