The other day I suggested that Robert De Niro‘s “Jimmy Doyle”, the pushy, hugely insensitive sax player in Martin Scorsese‘s New York New York (’77), may be the biggest ayehole in the history of American cinema. I’ve never re-watched this 46 year-old film so I’m a little hazy, but I can’t recall ever despising a character as much as Doyle.
HE is hereby asking for other noteworthy offenders in this regard. And remember that cruel or ruthless or foul-hearted characters are not necessarily ayeholes. The essence of ayeholeism is the ability to trigger feelings of disgust or repulsion, and to even prompt a moviegoer to leave a film rather spend another minute with the character in question.
Exanple: HAL 9000, the homicidal computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey, is not an ayehole. He’s a sociopath, of course, but with the personality of a well-educated gentleman.
One good example of a serious ayhole is Ray Sharkey‘s “Smitty” in Karel Reisz‘s Who’ll Stop The Rain. (On the other hand Richard Masur‘s Danskin, Smitty’s overbearing partner, is one of the funniest.)
Thomas F. Wilson‘s “Biff Tannen” from the Back To The Future franchise.
Jack Black‘s character in Stephen Frears‘ High Fidelity is not an ayehole — he’s glorious comic relief.
And then there’s Tim Roth‘s”Myron” in Frears’ The Hit — half an asshole, half capable of growth, half-sympathetic.