06 January 2007

On My Bad Guy, Albert

Ugh. So I hate this Albert Falconer. Ridiculous name, and he's mean mean mean. Bad news. The only way he can be interesting to me is as a Maxwell-Bright character: someone who actually can and does change (see if you ever get a chance the film The Civilization of Maxwell Bright, which I felt lucky to catch at a festival in 2006). Maxwell Bright's is the story of a craven individual who only looks at how he can get something out of the people he meets every day and meet one of his many – and voracious – needs, but circumstances bring him to recognize at last the grace and good in people, and perhaps in himself.

My creation, Albert, thinks he already is that enlightened manly-man, at peace with being on top of the food chain. But I think something will have to happen that makes him question his own judgment and forces him to depend on the kindness of strangers, who pull him through, wrap their roots around him and pull him up to the surface again when he’s been sucked into the vortex of fate that befalls us all.

And how does a guy like Albert get what’s coming to him? How’s Lennon’s line go? “Instant karma’s gonna get you, baby!” What is Albert’s version of instant karma? A totaled new car, or a girlfriend who starts rumors that are believed by many – and that shrink his dating pool rapidly, regardless of the untruth of the rumors. And there’s this habit that will be the old Albert’s undoing: he always tries to use every bit of leverage he can find over someone he sees as weaker. We love to hate this person when we recognize his inability to resist an opportunity to scheme for an advantage. But there has to be something potentially redeeming about him or he can’t be in my story. So there.

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