Willie
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Willie

Stranger than Paradise

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About Him

Grew Up… in Budapest, Hungary, though you’d never know it from his New York accent. Willie doesn’t seem to want to embrace his central-European roots. He always insists on speaking English to his aunt Lottie: “I don’t even consider myself a part of the family, you understand?”

Living… in a linoleum-lined apartment in the middle of a desolate part of New York. Willie usually lives alone, but his cousin Eva has come to stay in his squalid room for ten days before moving on to Cleveland.

Profession… seemingly none. Willie doesn’t do much other than bet on horses. Sometimes he manages to get lucky at the track, but he seems to channel most of his efforts into doing absolutely nothing.

Interests… watching TV, playing poker, and hanging out with his friend Eddie. Willie’s interests seem to be self-consciously American: he watches football, smokes Chesterfields, drinks Bud and consumes an oven-heated TV dinner every night. “This is how we eat in America,” he explains to the condescending Eva, “I got my meat, I got my potatoes, I got my vegetables, I got my dessert. And I don’t even have to wash the dishes.”

Challenge… entertaining himself. Willie is perennially bored. After winning some cash in a rigged poker game, he and his friend Eddie try and follow Eva to Cleveland, where they hope to find something to distract themselves with. When it turns out that Ohio is just as empty as New York, Willie and his pals decide to try their luck in sunny Florida. Will they ever find a place that’s sufficiently stimulating?

Personality… sullen, street-smart and impatient. Willie has modeled himself on the classic Jazz-era hipster: he wears fedoras, suspenders and smokes like a chimney. 

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