Nick Naylor

Nick Naylor

    Thank You for Smoking
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Living… in a beautiful apartment at 6000 Massachusetts Ave, just outside of Washington D.C. Nick shares the apartment with his son Joey, but only when it’s his turn for custody.

Profession… lobbyist for the American tobacco industry. More specifically, he is the vice-president of The Academy of Tobacco Studies – which after 15 years of research, has still not managed to conclusively tie cigarettes to lung cancer. Nick Naylor has been proclaimed the “sultan of spin,” for his seemingly limitless ability to defend an industry that “kills 1,200 people a day.” Despite the fact that almost everyone in the world hates him, Nick loves his job. He’s good at it and finds a perverse kind of nobility in defending the corporations that the rest of the world is so quick to write off.

Interests… argumentation, winning, and his son Joey. Nick is a born competitor and finds himself most comfortable when he’s trying to out-talk his opponents. With an uncanny understanding of human nature and a dizzying arsenal of rhetorical tricks, Nick is “never wrong,” despite nearly always being on the wrong side of the issue, and the facts. Even though his job requires him to occupy a “moral grey area,” Nick wants to set a good example for his son Joey – who, while extremely precocious, might still be too young to understand Nick’s unusual life philosophy.

Relationship status… divorced, although not wanting for company. Nick describes himself as “the guy who can get any girl. On crack.” He finds himself particularly attracted to the young reporter, Heather Holloway, who wants to investigate the life of the reviled and mysterious Mr. Naylor.

Challenge… balancing his professional obligation to defend cigarette companies with being a good father and role model to his son. Negating tobacco’s link to cancer was hard enough before he had a son. Now the amorality of bending the truth, bribing anti-tobacco lobbies, and marketing to children has begun to catch up to Nick. 

Personality… intelligent, friendly, and endlessly charming, but often too slick for his own good. Nick Naylor can talk anyone into anything. Despite his professional success, he doesn’t take himself too seriously and is always quick with a joke and a smile. It would be easy to label him as unscrupulous, but Nick Naylor does have principles – they’re just fixated on the ideas of relativity and freedom. Ultimately, he believes that the truth is a matter of opinion and that everyone manipulates in order to enforce his or her own agenda. In this constant struggle to rewrite the truth, Nick Naylor sees himself as a mercenary of sorts – one who is willing to defend the clients that no one else will. 


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