Paul Newman: Eddie Felson vs. Lucas Jackson

One actor. Two film roles. You tell us which portrayal was the best. The most memorable. Or iconic. Or simply your favorite.

But before you pass judgment, a few words defending the “character” of each…

The case for Lucas Jackson

Lucas Jackson AKA Cool Hand Luke may be an imprisoned member of a chain gang but he is a free spirit, an upstart unbound by social conventions; uncontrolled by authority figures. He’s an underdog. A rebel. A natural-born world-shaker. Luke is a guy trying to go his own way in a world that constantly tells him what to think and do. He is revered by the little guy because he’s a carefree rapscallion constantly poking his finger in the eye of The Man. And, true to form, he scorns those very people who idolize him for living their lives vicariously through him. Persecuted and prosecuted, life sure ain’t easy when you’re a hard case.

The case for Eddie Felson

“Only a handful of movie characters are so real that the audience refers to them as touchstones. Fast Eddie Felson is one of them.” That was Roger Ebert describing Paul Newman’s portrayal of the fictional pool shark. Fast Eddie is a magnificent player, yet billiard skills are all he has. Felson is called a “born loser” not for lack of talent, but because he wallows in a world that is perverted, twisted and crippled and chooses to ignore it. When the hustler finally accepts the reality (instead of idealized notions) of his surroundings and gives in to love he acquires the character essential to win at pool and at life.

Now that you’ve heard the arguments for both it’s time to render your verdict!