David Mitchell once said he rejected coolness as a concept, only to be told that doing this, by some form of ironical default, made him cooler. It's a fine demonstration of the mercurial nature of ‘coolness': the only thing that’s certain about ‘cool’ is that if you spend time thinking about what it is, there’s a 99.9 per cent chance that you are not it. Still, here are a few movie characters that all have that certain je ne sais quoi.
Bill Murray is cool pretty much all of the time. But the character of Peter Venkman allowed Bill Murray to marry his deft gift for a droll delivery with a character whose line of work was automatically cool anyway, resulting in coolness squared, or cubed or something. Coolness to the power of Fonz, maybe. During the events of Ghostbusters, Venkman also woos Sigourney Weaver, which has been empirically proven to be the coolest thing a human person can possibly do.
Ray: Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by dickless here! [glares at slimy civil servant Walter Peck]
Peck: They caused an explosion!
Mayor: Is this true?
Venkman: Yes, it's true. This man has no dick.
To be more like Venkman: Locate you’re body’s wit muscle and tug, tug, tug.
While we’re on the subject of Sigourney Weaver, it was the second Alien movie in which Ripley became the ultimate movie heroine. We saw her grow from a flight officer with figurative balls of steel to a soldier with bigger, much rounder figurative balls of steel. She is the woman who asked, "Which is better, flamethrower or machine gun?" and came up with the answer, "Fuck it, I’ll gaffer tape them both together" so she didn’t have to choose. This instantly earns her six and a half billion cool points.
Ripley: Get away from her you BITCH!
To be more like Ripley: Find a huge Alien beast and then beat the shit out of it. For added Ripley-ness, do so in your pants.
Would a middle-aged jobless pothead be cool in the cold light of reality? Probably not – they’d have no sex, no money, and their parents would be ashamed of them and much prefer one of their siblings. But, The Dude’s unique outlook on life spawned a cult following and an entire festival dedicated to his teachings. He likes bowling, driving around, listening to Credence, smoking a J, drinking White Russians and enjoying the odd acid flashback. He’s happy with his lot and, if everyone were a bit more like Jeff Bridges’ revered bum, the world would be a much better place. But, that’s just, like, our opinion, man.
German thug: [Holding bowling ball] What the fuck is this?
Dude: Obviously you’re not a golfer.
To be more like The Dude: Just chill the fuck out and, if possible, sleep with Julianne Moore a bit.
As far as Big Harrison’s concerned it’s a toss-up between Solo and Indiana Jones for cool characters, but Solo wins for two reasons: (1) the Millennium Falcon, and (2) The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Han Solo is the venerable rogue with the heart of gold; he’s the no-nonsense, wisecracking ying to Luke’s ponderously pious yang. And he definitely shot first. If you’re someone who doesn’t know what this means, you’ve probably seen many more members of the opposite sex naked than someone who does know what this means.
Princess Leia: I love you.
Solo: I know.
To be more like Solo: Buy a dog, teach it to walk on its hind legs, and then respond to its meaningless snuffles and barks as if engaging it in actual conversation. People will say you look stupid, but you’ll know ‘stupid’ actually means ‘cool’.
An obvious choice, but come on, it’s James Bond - a man who drinks all day but never gets drunk, who drives borrowed Aston Martins with no intention of returning them in a similar state of repair, who shags his gleeful way across the globe on the Government’s tab while having adventures in which there is a fair chance he will end up saving the world. His is a calibre of cool that laughs in the faces of gender and sexual orientation, before making meaningless, angry love to them.
Pussy: My name is Pussy Galore.
Bond: I musht be dreaming!
To be more like Bond: Become rich, better looking, hard as nails, good at poker and insanely charismatic. Easy, right?
All it took to elevate Uma Thurman’s chainsmoking mobster wife to the upper echelons of the cool-o-sphere (©) was a white shirt, a bob haircut and an ability to draw quadrilaterals in the air with naught but her fingers. She’s also got excellent taste in music, a love of burgers, she starred in a TV pilot of questionable quality and she’s got some seriously classy dance moves. Uma Thurman is a cool lady anyway, and Mia Wallace is her finest creation.
Mia: I’ll be there is three shakes of a lamb’s tail...
To be like Mia: Seeing as she takes a huge needle directly into the heart, it’s probably safer not to be.
Come on, he’s called Frank Bullitt for God’s sake - you can’t have that name and be a weedy chartered surveyor or a dentist, it’s just impossible. You’re either going to end up being a criminal kingpin or a no-nonsense cop who prowls the streets of San Francisco in a Ford Mustang so cool it can impregnate a woman from a hundred yards and a man from fifty. Steve McQueen is arguably the coolest man in history anyway, and Bullitt is him at his absolute-zero coolest.
Bullitt: Look, Chalmers, let’s understand each other. I don’t like you.
To be more like Bullitt: Can you afford a 1968 Mustang? No? Then it’s not gonna happen.
In Evil Dead 2 Ash loses his hand. What would you do in this situation? You might use your remaining paw to call for aid, or have one final cheeky shuffle before you bled off this mortal coil, and this is why you’re not as cool as Ash. He decided the answer to that question was ‘graft a chainsaw the size of The Big Show’s leg onto the stump so I can continue to kill Deadites’. This pragmatic and optimistic approach to dismemberment, together with an athletic ability with a zinger, makes Ash (played by geek hero Bruce Campbell) the coolest mutha ever to grace the gooey, splattery genre of horror. Groovy.
Ash: [holding a shotgun] This... is my BOOMSTICK!
To be more like Ash: Attempt to attach a chainsaw to your arm. What’s the worst that could happen?
There’s no two ways about it, that is one seriously good-looking dude. But, there’s more to being ice-cool than having a face that could give inanimate objects the horn and abs you could grate parmesan on. Tyler Durden is supposed to represent repressed modern man’s idealised archetype of coolness (quite literally in the case of Ed Norton’s narrator), so he likes a good scrap, extraordinarily debauched sex and causing mischief. And he looks like THAT.
Tyler: Now, a question of etiquette: as I pass, do I give you the ass or the crotch?
To be more like Durden: Become a figment of someone else’s psyche and cause the collapse of the entire financial sector. Easy. Oh, and get plastic surgery. Lots of plastic surgery.