Elmore Leonard (1925-2013): Our Favorite Screen Characters
American novelist Elmore Leonard passed away on Tuesday morning at the age of 87, from complications from a stroke. With over 50 novels, short stories, and screenplays, Leonard's work has dotted the American cultural landscape for the last half-century. And since so much of the man's work has been adapted for the screen, we know we'll remember Leonard best for his indelible characters. Here's a short list of the most memorable.
Harry Mitchell in 52 Pick-Up: Roy Scheider played the businessman dealing with blackmailers in the 1986 John Frankenheimer film version of the Leonard novel.
Chili Palmer and Harry Zimm in Get Shorty: Barry Sonnenfeld's adaptation of this tale of loan sharks and mob enforcers and film producers got a jolt from an enthusiastic cast (including Rene Russo, Danny DeVito, Delroy Lindo, Dennis Farina), but the most indelible characters were John Travolta's Chili Palmer and Gene Hackman's Harry Zimm, and their interplay is a treat to watch.
Jackie Brown and Max Cherry in Jackie Brown: Pam Grier was nominated for a Golden Globe and Robert Forster was nominated for an Oscar for their roles in Quentin Tarantino's film, an adaptation of Leonard's Rum Punch.
Charlie Prince in 3:10 to Yuma: The only character to survive intact from the adaptation of Leonard's short-story "Three-Ten to Yuma," Prince is portrayed with vigor and a tantalizing ambiguousness by Ben Foster.
Karen Sisco in Out of Sight: Jennifer Lopez's bright, shining moment, acting-wise, was her performance as U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco in Steven Soderbergh's rather delightful Out of Sight. Bonus points for the character finding life beyond the film, with the tragically short-lived TV series Karen Sisco, starring Carla Gugino in the title role. Gugino would go on to play a version of Sisco -- though not named as such -- in TV's Justified. Speaking of which ...
Raylan Givens in Justified: Leonard's greatest contribution to TV is most certainly his creation of the character around which Justified is based. Timothy Olyphant's Raylan is a wonderfully complicated and compelling character who dates back to Leonard novels Pronto and Riding the Rap, as well as the short story "Fire in the Hole" that provided the basis for Justified's pilot.