Riggan Thomson

Riggan Thomson

Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Living… in the fading light of his former fame. Riggan once played the superhero Birdman in a series of blockbuster Hollywood films. Now, he's scraping by in New York City, trying to stay relevant in an industry that's moved on.

Profession… actor. Having made his name in the movies, Riggan is producing and starring in a Broadway play that he adapted from an old novel. While critics seem to think Riggan is simply grasping at straws, he defends his play: "This is my chance to finally do some work that actually means something."

Interests… acting and directing, and pretty much nothing else. Since the premiere of the play is quickly approaching, Riggan spends every waking moment memorizing lines, rewriting scenes, dealing with his agent, and arguing with his actors in between rehearsals.

Relationship Status… it's complicated. Riggan is dating Laura, who also happens to be acting in his play. However, Riggan's ex-wife Sylvia also comes to the theater frequently because their daughter Sam is working as Riggan's assistant.

Challenge… proving himself again. Riggan is the very definition of "washed up," and this play is not only a shot at securing the spotlight once again, but a way for him to wrestle with some personal demons. Insecure and embarrassed, he's hoping this play will put him more in touch with the artistry of acting while rebuilding his public image. But that will only happen if he can pull the show together before opening night. Otherwise, he might be even worse off than before.

Personality… proud, stubborn, and energetic. Riggan is putting everything he has into this play, partly out of creative drive and partly out of desperation, so it's safe to say he's very on-edge. Faced with negative press and prickly attitudes from some of his cast, Riggan's temper runs short, resulting in frequent confrontations and meltdowns. Through it all, his inner drive to succeed keeps him focused on his goal of getting the play ready. Sometimes this focus can be too narrow, causing Riggan to appear absent or shallow to the people around him. But when he does see beyond himself, he's a great person to confide in.


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