Steve Zissou
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Steve Zissou

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

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About Him

Living… at his oceanographic observatory out on Pescespada Island. When not at home, he’s out on the high seas on his trusty ship the Belafonte (complete with a Swedish masseuse!). He documents his scientific adventures with his partner Esteban until a massive Jaguar shark eats Esteban near the Oubyamywe Peninsula off the Western coast of Africa.

Profession… oceanographer, explorer, and well-known documentarian. Zissou takes his loyal crew, Team Zissou, along on his adventures. All of Team Zissou wears matching red knit hats, pajamas, “Z”-emblazoned navy sweaters, and even matching Adidas sneakers. Everyone carries a Glock pistol, except the unpaid interns, who all share one.

Interests… Jacque Costeau, dynamite, marijuana, Campari on the rocks.

Relationship Status… married to the unflappable Eleanor. Some say she’s the real brains behind Team Zissou. According to Zissou, she’s a “rich bitch, raised by maids.” Her parents funded the Zissou compound on Pescespada Island. She used to be married to Alistar Hennessy, Zissou’s nemesis and old roommate back at the academy. Zissou has an ex-wife himself: Jacqueline, whom Zissou claims, “didn’t really love me.”

Challenge… like a modern-day Ahab, Zissou seeks to avenge Esteban’s death by hunting and killing down the Jaguar shark. On top of this, Ned Plimpton turns up out of the blue claiming to be Zissou’s progeny and is eager to be a part of his team. On his voyage, he is beset by numerous setbacks: Filipino pirates attack; the producer threatens to pull their funding; Team Zissou grows mutinous; and perhaps most to Zissou’s displeasure, a reporter comes aboard to cover the adventure. He tolerates her presence only because, as he says, “we dearly need the press.”

Personality… mostly self-absorbed and sarcastic, but increasingly reflective as he grows older. At age 52, Zissou wonders if he’s washed up – if he’s on his final voyage. He wonders if he will be remembered. They say adversity reveals character; in times of crisis, Zissou reveals himself to be, above all, a flawed but natural leader of men. As he describes himself, “obviously people are going to think I’m a showboat, and a little bit of a prick. But then I thought… that’s me. I said those things, I did those things. I can live with that.”

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