An anti-hero, in literary parlance, is NOT by definition a villain, but rather a character who occupies the place in a narrative where a hero would traditionally have been, but cannot fill the role properly due to some flaw–physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual. Hamlet would be the exemplar, but Oedipus and Travis Bickle fit just as well (or badly.) Some readers may not like Will Wyrd very much–he was designed to be representative, not popular. But, to alter Dickens’ famous phrase, all-too-many of us turn out to be the anti-heroes of our own lives.
This entry wraps up our “Casting Call” series for an imaginary film production of Clotho’s Loom. For those who have been following this blog from the very beginning in May, my choice for male protagonist/lead William Wyrd should not be surprising, as I hinted as much back then. Most are familiar with Matt Damon from his comedy pairings with Ben Affleck, or more recently as the ultra-competent title character of The Bourne Identity and franchise. The photo above comes from a contrasting, lesser-known dramatic role in The Good Shepherd, following a man involved in the original transition of the OSS during World War II, to the CIA during the Cold War and afterward. I find the narrative fascinating as the chronicle of how human beings with good intentions can go so far down the path of morally questionable acts, that they can never find their way back. Damon does a superb job of degenerating from innocence to laconic despair over several decades, and I felt this showed the range needed for Wyrd: a man who, like many people, ended up in a much different place in life than he ever planned to go. Lying, killing, and deception come to define him, and even his wife gets shut out. How, besides the passage of time, does one get into such a fix? External circumstances, the will of other human beings, poor or ignorant choices of our own, and chance–all play their parts in taking us there.