In honor of the upcoming holiday, we here at Portland Film Review have decided to put together pieces that are a twist on the classic question; ‘What fictional character would you most want to have dinner with?’ In this spirit, we have each put together a list of the movie and TV characters we would assemble for our ideal Thanksgiving dinner table. Once you have had a chance to read over each of ours, make sure to hop over to our Instagram or Facebook on Thanksgiving Day to vote on which writer’s table you would most like to join.
Character: Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) – Twin Peaks (1990-1991, 2017)
What they’re bringing: Cherry pie and some damn fine coffee
Why I want them at the table: Cooper is arguably my favorite fictional character out there, probably a result of having spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about him for my undergraduate thesis. Coop is an affable, intelligent, and gracious person who brings with him years of great stories from his F.B.I. work. The winning combination of humor and great conversational skills make him an ideal addition to any table in my eyes, and a particularly good one for the Thanksgiving table where you never quite know what topics will pop up. I would trust him to give his full attention to even the most mind-numbing story, and no doubt find a quip within it to make the whole ordeal worthwhile. Plus, if the spirit dies down, he can always give us a lovely soliloquy on the cherry pie I’ve asked him to bring from the Double R Diner, and lead us nicely into our after-dinner damn fine cups of coffee.
Character: Loretta Castorini (Cher) – Moonstruck (1987)
What they’re bringing: Eggplant parmesan and some bomb ass hairspray
Why I want them at the table: This pick is half because of the character Loretta Castorini, and half because the chance to have Cher at my dinner table is too enticing to pass up. Sticking to our own rules and thinking about Loretta though, she has oodles to offer. A quick wit and the enviable ability to suffer no fools at any moment, I would hope to have Loretta as my Thanksgiving Lieutenant, there to help me keep everyone in good spirits while also keeping the peace. Every table needs someone that can keep everyone honest while maintaining good spirit, and I can think of no guest better than Loretta to achieve this. She can cut through even the largest mound of bullshit, and we all know the Thanksgiving table is always at risk of steering too far into that wretched place. Plus, once again, this would also technically mean having dinner with Cher, an honor I would honestly sell a kidney for.
Character: Detective Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) – Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013-)
What they’re bringing: Flatbush Diner pie
Why I want them at the table: I came to the Brooklyn Nine-Nine fan club late in the game (admittedly just this past summer), but it has quickly become one of my go-to comfort shows, and that is precisely because of the top-notch ensemble that makes up the cast. I thought long and hard about which member I would most want to have over for dinner, and while it was close, the only honest answer is Rosa Diaz. Diaz is the person who comes to my mind whenever anyone mentions the word “badass,” an honor she regularly maintains on the show by being both a loving and supportive friend as well as the closest the Ninety-Ninth Precinct gets to having an action hero on the team. She is a woman of few words, so every one of them counts, and you know exactly where you stand with her all the time. Also, she is one of the fictional characters that reminds me most of my best friend in the world Anna Lueck, and so it feels right to invite her along.
Character: Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) – Bad Boys for Life (2020)
What they’re bringing: Mike Lawrey’s Porsche and loaded baked potatoes
Why I want them at the table: Even for all its absurd bombast and questionable pacing choices, the Bad Boys franchise maintains a warm standing in my opinion because of the overwhelming chemistry of its stars. No shade at Will Smith, but Martin Lawrence’s work as Marcus Burnett carries the lion’s share of this load for me, especially in the most recent entry to the series. Burnett is a loving family man who struggles with the deeply relatable problems of growing older, balancing career and personal life, and just attempting to maintain a level of acceptable sanity in an insane world. Plus, he does all of this while overflowing with some of the funniest lines ever put to page in an action franchise. For all of that, I think having Burnett at the Thanksgiving table would add an incredible amount of heart and humor to the proceedings. Marcus Burnett is simply high on my list of characters I would want to hang out with, and what better time to jump on that than now.
Character: John Keating (Robin Williams) – Dead Poets Society (1989)
What they’re bringing: Stuffing Three Ways and some Longfellow quotes
Why I want them at the table: As a former English teacher who is inclined towards long monologues on the power of art and prone to tying my lessons up into a package meant to put forward a bit of life advice, it should come as zero surprise that John Keating is an important figure for me. His distinct blend of literary knowledge and emotional intelligence make him my ideal conversation partner, and I think he would fit in perfectly with the other personalities at the table. Teachers have a special way of knowing how to navigate disparate dispositions in one setting, and I would look to him as I tried to navigate the dinner myself. An added bit of peace of mind also comes from the fact that Dead Poets Society features a number of scenes with Keating at a meal, so his bona fides are already well established in terms of a high success rate for conducting himself fabulously around food and friends. If you’re still not sold, I guess I only have two final words for you: Robin Williams.
Character: Bianca (Tessa Thompson) – Creed (2015)
What they’re bringing: Cheesesteaks and her considerable musical talent
Why I want them at the table: My love for Creed is well documented on this site (if you need a refreshed, pop on over and listen to the PFR Weekly episode “Ryan Coogler Part II – Creed and Deconstructing American Myths”). Tessa Thompson’s work as Bianca is a central part of the appeal of the movie for me, and everything that makes her such a captivating film character would make her just as wonderful a dinner guest. As a gifted musician who has forged her own path in life, I would be content simply to listen to her talk about her musical journey and any projects that she might have coming up. In addition, as I’m sure you can tell is becoming a theme, I put a high marker on humor, and Bianca’s razor wit would match nicely with the rest of the crowd I’ve been working to assemble. And one can even hope that after dinner she might be open to leading a little sing-along.
Character: Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) – The Crown (2016-)
What they’re bringing: Champagne, the Queen’s corgis, and plenty of attitude
Why I want them at the table: Like any good anglophile, I am head over heels obsessed with The Crown and all its Royal Family drama. While I think any of the Royals as portrayed by the exceptional cast of the show would be great dinner guests, I cannot help but zero in on Vanessa Kirby’s version of Princess Margaret. There is no question that she can be a touch of a loose canon when forced to put on the Royal mould the British institution expects of her. Yet, I would have no interest in having the performative version of the woman over for dinner, so I think her truest form would be quite the perfect addition. Margaret is charming and exceptionally quick-witted and would be an ideal person to mull around with during both cocktail and coffee hours. Plus, she is a gifted dancer and I am always ready for some post-dinner dancing.
Character: Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) – Hannibal (2013-2015)
What they’re bringing: Wine pairings and an ankle bracelet so we always know where he is
Why I want them at the table: Hear me out. I know that inviting a known cannibalistic serial killer to Thanksgiving dinner is questionable at best, but this iteration of Lecter has more than a few positives to add. First off, I would pull on the version of Lecter from the show who is yet to be found out, and is working hard to maintain his veneer of innocence as a gifted psychiatrist working with the F.B.I. So, if one can presumably keep that deadly part of his personality under wraps for the night, what you end up with is a brilliant man of culture and cuisine who knows how to throw a bangers dinner party. I would put him in charge of bringing the best wine pairings for the feast, and to stimulate our cocktail hour conversation before sitting down for dinner. Of course he would not be allowed anywhere near the kitchen at any point during the night, and I would take comfort in the number of law enforcement officials also at my dinner table. What could go wrong?
What did you think of the list? Make sure to visit our Instagram or Facebook page on Thanksgiving Day to vote for which table you would want to sit at!