In a work of media adapted from a real or fictional narrative, a composite character is a character based on more than one individual from the story.
Use in filmEdit
- Several characters in the movie 21.
- The character Henry Hurt in the docudrama Apollo 13 is portrayed as a NASA public relations employee assigned to the wife of astronaut Jim Lovell, and who also is seen answering reporters' questions. This character is a composite of the NASA protocol officer Bob McMurrey assigned to act as a buffer between the Lovell family and the press, and several Office of Public Affairs employees whose job was to actually work with the press.
- Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs is a composite based on the serial killers Jerry Brudos, Ed Gein, Ted Bundy, Gary M. Heidnik, Edmund Kemper, and Gary Ridgway.
- The character Commander Bolton in the 2017 film Dunkirk is a composite of several real life people, including Commander James Campbell Clouston and Captain Bill Tennant.
- The characters in the 1963 film The Great Escape are based on real men, and in some cases are composites of several men. The character Virgil Hilts, the "Cooler King," was based on at least three pilots, David M. Jones, John Dortch Lewis, and William Ash.
- In Bombshell, Margot Robbie's character Kayla Pospisil was based on a number of conservative women who spoke to the filmmakers about Ailes' harassment. "We’re not revealing the people we talk to. We’re trying to protect them," director Jay Roach said of the project's sources.
Use in televisionEdit
- 1st Lt. (later CPT) Colleen McMurphy on the television series China Beach was a composite of several real-life Army nurses who served in Vietnam.
- Marshall Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke is a composite of several Old West Kansas lawmen.
- Ulana Khomyuk in Chernobyl is a composite character created to represent "the many scientists who worked fearlessly and put themselves in a lot of danger to help solve the situation."
Use in booksEdit
- The Senator: My Ten Years with Ted Kennedy, a memoir by Richard E. Burke allegedly exposing various activities of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy featured several composite characters associated with Kennedy's alleged drug use and sexual dalliances; the inclusion of such became a point of criticism for the book.
- The three Herods in the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles (Herod the Great (Luke 1:5), Herod Antipas (Luke 3:1; 9:7-9; 13:31-33; 23:5-12), and Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1-23)) are three separate historical rulers, but are portrayed as a single character in Herod as a Composite Character in Luke-Acts, described "as an actualization of Satan’s desire to impede the spread of the good news though his ["Herod’s"] rejection of the gospel message and through political persecution".
Use in comicsEdit
Use in journalismEdit
- In 1944, The New Yorker ran a series of articles by Joseph Mitchell on New York's Fulton Fish Market that were presented as journalism. Only when the story was published four years later as the book Old Mr. Flood did Mitchell write, "Mr. Flood is not one man; combined in him are aspects of several old men who work or hang out in Fulton Fish Market, or who did in the past." Mitchell assigned his composite character his own birthday and his own love for the Bible and certain authors. In his introduction to Mr. Flood, Mitchell wrote, "I wanted these stories to be truthful rather than factual, but they are solidly based on facts."
- John Hersey is said to have created a composite character in a Life magazine story as did Alastair Reid for The New Yorker.
- Vivian Gornick in 2003 said that she used composite characters in some of her articles for the Village Voice.
- Gutkind, Lee; Fletcher, Hattie (2008). Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction (1st ed.). New York: W.W. Norton. p. 39. ISBN 978-0393065619.
- "House of cards". Boston.com. 6 April 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2013.(subscription required)
- Lovell, Jim; Kluger, Jeffrey (1994). Apollo 13. New York: Pocket Books. pp. 118, 209–210, 387. ISBN 0671534645.
- Grow, Kory (14 February 2016). "'Silence of the Lambs' at 25: Inside Buffalo Bill". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
- Alexander, Bryan (20 July 2017). "'Dunkirk': How historically accurate is Christopher Nolan's WWII battle film?". USA Today. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
- Bruemmer, René (2 August 2017). "Inspiration for summer blockbuster Dunkirk an unsung Montreal hero". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
- "Unsung hero of Dunkirk evacuation a former McGill student". McGill Reporter. McGill University. 7 August 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
- "This war hero was forgotten in Canada and portrayed as a Brit in 'Dunkirk.' Now he's finally getting his due". Washington Post. 21 September 2017.
- Broich, John (20 July 2017). "What's Fact and What's Fiction in 'Dunkirk'". Slate. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- Kaufman, Michael T. (13 August 1999). "John D. Lewis, 84, Pilot in 'The Great Escape'". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
- Bishop, Patrick (30 August 2015). "William Ash: The cooler king". BBC Online. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
- Foley, Brendan (29 April 2014). "Bill Ash obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
- "William Ash - obituary". The Daily Telegraph. London. 30 April 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
- Epstein, Rachel (12 December 2019). "Spoiler Alert: Margot Robbie's 'Bombshell' Character Isn't Real". Marie Claire. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
- Goodykoontz, Billy (28 May 2013). "25 years later, 'China Beach' earns your respect". USA Today. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
- "'China Beach': Cast Reunites, Reflects on Series' Impact". ABC News. 30 September 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
- Barra, Allen (July 2013). "Dodge Vs. Deadwood". American Heritage. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- "Emily Watson on her new TV drama, Chernobyl". The Scotsman. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
- "Ex-aide's Book Alleges Kennedy Used Drugs The Senator Called Allegations About Orgies, Drugs And Alcohol "Bizarre And Untrue"". The Inquirer. 27 September 1992. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
- Isaak, Sharon (30 October 1992). "Tales of Ted Kennedy". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
- Dicken, Frank (2014). Herod as a Composite Character in Luke-Acts. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck. p. 7. ISBN 978-3161532542.
- Weiner, Robert G. (2008). Marvel Graphic Novels and Related Publications: An Annotated Guide to Comics, Prose Novels, Children's Books, Articles, Criticism and Reference Works, 1965-2005. McFarland. pp. 228, 385. ISBN 97807864-25006. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
- Shafer, Jack (12 June 2003). "The fabulous fabulists". Slate. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- Carduff, Christopher (3 November 1992). "Fish-eating, whiskey, death & rebirth". New Criterion. Archived from the original on 6 March 2001. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
- O'Rourke, Meghan (29 July 2003). "Literary license". Slate. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- "Unethical writers love the power of creative non-fiction -". WTOP.com. 13 January 2006. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 13 October 2013.