When I was a kid growing up, my mom and I always used to watch this one movie over and over again: The 1938 version of The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Robin Hood was like a super hero to me. Errol Flynn did an incredible job bringing Robin Hood to life, swashbuckling around the shires of England as a light-hearted, passionate, loyal protector of the Saxons from the Normans.
Though I obviously didn’t realize it at the time, I tried to model myself after him. I’d pretend I was him when playing around the house, or when my friends and I would play in the woods. Other kids looked up to Luke Skywalker, or Indiana Jones. Robin Hood was the one I looked up to.
Think back to your own childhood. What movie characters did you look up to most? What was it about them that made you look up to them, and want to become them?
Even though a movie character may be fictional, they’re still “people” in their own world. And, when we find ourselves drawn to them, it’s because there’s something about them that we admire: Their values, beliefs, character traits, and personality features.
Can we take those things from our favorite movie characters, model them, and use them as a template to help ourselves identify what we’d possibly like our own values, beliefs, character traits, and personality to be?
I absolutely do. In fact, many of my own values, beliefs, characters traits, and personality features come from some of my favorite movie characters whom I’ve tried to model.
Here’s my list of the Top 5 Movie Characters I’ve tried to model myself after to help me become a better version of myself. You may have heard of them, or maybe you haven’t. If you haven’t, I encourage you to watch the movies and see these characters for yourself.
Rick Blaine – Casablanca
Rick is Charismatic, Suave, Confident, and as Captain Renault put it, “A rank Sentimentalist”. Rick lives by his values. In his saloon, Rick’s Café Amercain, he refuses to take money from the Nazis who come in for a drink. In years past, while in Spain, he fought against the Fascists and sided with the Loyalists to overthrow the government. He isn’t afraid to stand up against authority, or to side with the underdog.
Being the kind of person who has more of an introverted personality, I like to try and model Rick’s ability to be Charismatic and Swooning. And, even though he’s a hard, fearless guy, he has a genuine soft spot for helping others. He helped rig a roulette game at his own saloon so that a young couple could win the money they needed to fly to America. He gave two letters of transit out of Casablanca, which he wanted to use for himself, to a man and his wife fighting in the underground movement against the Nazis so that they could escape them and continue their work.
His hard fearlessness and genuine compassion are two traits that I think make a great combination together.
Aragorn – The Lord of the Rings
Aragon was a man who was afraid to face his own future. He lived most of his life in fear of what his ultimate destiny would eventually become. Being the heir to a throne, he kept that future at bay out of the fear that, if he pursued it, he thought he’d fail because of what he perceived as inherit weaknesses.
I completely relate to Aragorn’s journey. For most of my adult life, I was frightened to death of the idea of going after the future I wanted. I was beyond afraid of it failing, of me not being good enough, and of success itself. But, I found out, just as Aragorn did, that the journey towards your future, and the challenges, failures, and moments of self-reflection you experience along the way are what help you to become ready once the moment to embrace your future comes.
On top of all of that, he is a natural leader, a man of commitment, ego-free, and completely selfless, all qualities I want to incorporate into my own way of being and living.
Bagger Vance – The Legend of Bagger Vance
“It’s time for you to come on out the shadows, Junah. It’s time for you to choose. But, you ain’t alone. I’m right here with you. I been here all along. Now, play the game. Your game. The one that only you was meant to play. The one that was given to you when you came into this world.”
Bagger Vance wasn’t just Junah’s caddie. He was a motivator, a teacher, and a guide. He helped Junah overcome his inner demons, and he did it in a way that was non-invasive, positive, and encouraging. His way of being a guide for Junah is exactly how I try to guide my own clients as a Personal Development coach, by not forcing them to do things, but to give them the freedom and the space to learn about themselves and figure out the process on their own. I just simply give them nudges along the way when they’re needed most, just like Bagger did with Junah.
Bagger’s personality is incredibly endearing, as he is extremely light-hearted, always smiling, and he always sees the best in everything. I think that’s a tremendous way to look at life, and I try my best to model that myself.
Nathan Algren – The Last Samurai
Much like how Aragorn was a man troubled by his future, Nathan Algren was a man who was troubled by a past he couldn’t come to terms with.
As a Captain in the US Army in the late 1800’s, he reluctantly took part in the slaughter of innocent Native Americans, many of whom were women and children. It was something that haunted him every day of his life from then on.
When hired by the Japanese government to train their soldiers to fight the rebel Samurai, he was captured in a battle by the Samurai, taken back to their village, and forced to live among them until the winter had passed and he could be taken back to Tokyo.
It was during his time in captivity that he eventually rose up to deeply self-reflect, face his past, and confront his demons, something I’ve had to do myself on more than one occasion. Haven’t you also done the same?
When I think of Nathan Algren, values like Hard Work, Commitment, Strength, Loyalty, and ultimately Redemption, come to mind. He’s a warrior. He’s a man who was able to overcome a troubled past, have the wisdom to learn new ways of being and living, and became a better version of himself. That inspires me, and I want to be just like that.
Vincent Anton Freeman – Gattaca
“There is no gene for the human spirit.”
Born as an “Invalid” in a world where only those who were “Valid” and genetically supreme were expected to succeed, Vincent Anton Freeman defied the norms of society, overcame the incredible challenges and obstacles in front of him, and persevered all the way to his dream of flying into space with Gattaca, despite his disadvantage of being born as a “faith birth” and a “degenerate”.
Confidence, Belief, Motivation, Desire, Passion, Focus, and Perseverance are some of the traits that make up Vincent. His Desire to push through no matter what, to keep going, even when society itself is trying to prevent you from succeeding, is exactly what I want to model if and when I find myself in a similar challenge.
Vincent proved that, no matter who you are, how you were born, where you’ve come from, and what you have to face along the way, anything is genuinely possible, proving that there really is nothing that can replace the human spirit and will to achieve a dream.
They may not be physically real, but even as imaginary as they are, our favorite characters from our favorite books, movies, TV shows, video games, and other kinds of stories do have life. We carry them around inside of us and give them life when we model them. They are inspirations that we can learn from by seeing what values, beliefs, character traits, and personality features they have and then doing our best to take them and apply them to ourselves and our lives in order to live better and become a better version of ourselves.
I’d love to hear who your favorite characters to model and learn from are. Let me know in the comments section. Share you story!
And to you, Robin Hood, I give my honorable mention. Your swashbuckling and hearty laugh will be with me always!