Name: S.D. Plissken
Known Alias: "Snake"
Military Rank: Lieutenant (revoked)
Scar, Left Cheek; Scar, Right Thigh; Cobra Tattoo, Stomach
Legendary war hero of World War III who turned criminal, an honored and decorated veteran. United
States Special Forces Unit, Black Light. Awarded two Purple
Hearts for Leningrad and Siberia campaigns. He was the youngest man to be
decorated by the President.
1997 - Convicted of robbing the Federal Reserve Depository. Life sentence, New
York Maximum Security Penitentiary.
Due to his actions in rescuing the President of the United States from the New
York Maximum Security Penitentiary, and in dealing with the criminal gang leader
(The Duke of New York) a pardon for this and all previous offences was granted.
John Carpenter on
"He's a hero of World War
III, decorated for bravery.
He was somewhat like a Green Beret, a very experienced, expert soldier. But he
has soured on the world and the government, becoming his own man - a thief. He's
called upon to do a job because he's good. He doesn't care for anybody, unless
he respects him. His respect is very personal and emotional. He judges people
- John Carpenter, Film Fear: Three Directors Darkly, Prevue 43, Vol 2,
Issue 3, Nov-Dec, 1980
"Snake is a cool character, and it's difficult to not really love him no matter
what he does," Carpenter says. "His moral code is incorruptible. He only cares
about the next 60 seconds. He doesn't care about killing you, he doesn't care
about saving you. He just wants to move on. He doesn't care about a cause
because it all bores him. He's been there and seen that. The first thing he says
when he arrives and is confronted with his mission is, 'What do you want? I know
you want something; you wouldn't bring me here if you didn't.' In a way, he's a
world-weary character, but he's also extremely funny because he's so irreverent.
He doesn't give a shit. That's my own alter ego, to which I will be forever true
if I can."
- John Carpenter, To Live And Die In Escape From L.A., Fangoria, Issue 155,
"If you step on him? Don't do it.
But if you leave him alone, you'll be all right. The character is a combination
of my hatred of authority and a guy I knew in high school who went to Vietnam
and came back completely changed. He became Snake. He had this inner strength,
like now he knows what life is about. In a way, Snake is an innocent. He's
forced into a mission that doesn't really cause anything bad to happen. Except
at the end when he strikes a little blow for his own beliefs."
- John Carpenter, In 'Escape,' Carpenter Sets His Rebellious Nature Free, USA
Today, Aug 12, 1996
"One of the things that women have said to me over the years about the movie,
was that what got them really attracted to this character was the fact that he
was inaccessible to them and he didn't try to get them. Snake doesn't care
about anything but staying alive for another sixty seconds. He doesn't care
about hurting you. He doesn't care about helping you. He doesn't care about
taking you to bed. All he cares about is moving on. And that kind of character,
who is essentially self sufficient, is extremely attractive to females. So,
we've never really given him the girl - although in this movie he gets very
close. He actually has a pretty hot scene with Valeria Golino. You think that
maybe if Snake had more time he might consider it. But things don't work out
Carpenter, Escape From L.A: Snake Plissken Is Back In John Carpenter's
'Cowboy Noir', Cinefantastique, Vol 25, Issue 1, Aug, 1996
"What makes a hero is a
singleness of purpose... It's a very, very firm focus. That's what's always
defined a hero in literature and in movies, and Snake has that. He's focusing on
one thing: he's going to save his butt. He's a very bad, innocent man. Nothing
can change him. He's incorruptible."
- John Carpenter,
The Last Bad Boy, Sci-Fi Entertainment, Vol
3, Issue 2, Aug,
"Snake is a classic character. He's perfect in many ways. You don't need to mess
with him on paper, and you don't mess with him in person! You don't know who he
is or where he's come from. But you know he's the baddest guy in the baddest
world, and he can take care of himself."
- John Carpenter, Escape Artist, Starburst 217, Vol
19, Issue 1, Sep, 1996
Kurt Russell on Snake
"Snake Plissken is a
survivor. He's not overly intelligent, like James Bond. He's not suave, just
very self-assured - single-minded about getting from point A to point B in a
straight line, even if he has to kill to do it. I had to adopt an animalistic
way of thinking to play Snake. There is a very cynical attitude about him - he's
very cold and capable. He's a very one-dimensional person, with faint innuendoes
- Kurt Russell,
Escape From New York,
Prevue 45, Vol 2, Issue 5, May, 1981
"Snake is an individual who is
everyone's fantasy of a figure who no longer exists by that time (1997) - a person who says and does absolutely what he wants.
He's an interesting character, and over the course of the film you'll come to
find he's more than a one-dimensional, one-man destruction machine. My feeling
is that he's just a guy who's getting through each day - he's a survivor. I don't
know if there's been a character much like Snake before. I think the audience
will pull for him because he's trying to accomplish something. I don't think
he'll work his way into anybody's heart, though, as perhaps John Wayne did in
The Searchers. He's a fairly cold person, but to me he's very sensitive. He's
living in a colder society, and it's an imagined society as well. The fantasy of
what the situation could be like in New York City in 1997 changes his whole
outlook. Snake is the kind of hero we haven't seen yet - he's an ex-World War III
war hero. If you take a guy who's a hero of a war that hasn't been fought yet
and put him in a situation we've never seen before, he certainly has to be
different... he's basically a loner who doesn't have a real relationship with
any other character in the picture. He uses the other people because they have
information he needs in order to find the President. Other than that he's not
interested in anybody else."
- Kurt Russell, The Stars
'Escape From New York,' Kurt Russell & Adrienne Barbeau: Survivors
Of The Future, Starlog, Issue 49, Aug, 1981
"Despite the fact that he's a really a cold character, I think audiences
like him. I think most people would love to be Snake Plissken if only for a day.
They'd like to walk down the street and know that just being who they are,
people aren't going to hassle them. They wouldn't go out looking for trouble,
but they'd be self-assured enough to know that if trouble came their way, they
could handle it. People get off on Snake's 'so what' attitude. He isn't a hero but he's not a villain, either. Something happened to
Snake when he was fighting World War III in Siberia. Whatever it was must have
been ugly, so ugly that it turned him into a near automaton. At the end of the
movie, it's very painful for him to crack the tiniest of smiles at a little joke
he plays. I think people will pick up on his sense of honor. Sure, he's mean but,
getting back to his 'human compassion' line to Hauk, I think that's really the
bottom line with Snake. He asks for but realizes that there isn't any human
- Kurt Russell, Escape From New York, Future Life, Issue 30, Nov, 1981
fortunate to be able to play a gamut of characters in different situations.
Snake Plissken is the one who has been my favorite, I find him endlessly
fascinating. He is a visceral character, one that you feel, not one you figure
out. I feel he got to a point very early on his life where he realizes that it's
about just making it another 60 seconds. Nobody has ever been as socially -
Unredeemable as Snake Plissken."
- Kurt Russell, Escape From L.A. Press Kit, Production Notes, 1996
"On the surface, (Snake) looks completely one-dimensional, but I felt he was the
most complex character I've ever played... It's impossible to tell what he's
thinking or why. In the dark recesses of my mind, there's a part of me that
would like to be like him, with no responsibility, no ties to anyone or anything
- a dark, angry SOB."
- Kurt Russell, Urban Renewal, Cinescape, Vol 2, Issue 11, Aug, 1996
"My character in Escape From New York...
somehow hit a nerve with audiences," Russell says. "I think people identify with
his attitude, and his need for total freedom." Russell is the first to admit
that some things haven't changed in 15 years, particularly the character of
Snake Plissken. "That's the key to the movie. The rest of the world has changed,
but Snake has not. His agenda is not going to change. He's incorruptible. He has
no agenda. He doesn't want anything from anybody." That even explains why Snake
seldom speaks - and when he does, it's in a hoarse whisper. "Snake doesn't
talk to people," Russell says. "Snake speaks to hear himself."
- Kurt Russell,
Russell Doesn't Mind Your Delayed Reaction,
Detroit News, Aug 09, 1996
"I began to understand how he was an alter-ego of mine and I now feel very
confidently that John and I make him up. We share him. I have fun playing that
character because I have somebody to share him with. That's John. It's like
going on vacation with your girlfriend or your wife. It's so much more fun
because you have
somebody to share it with. When we're on the set, sharing Snake's reaction to
things with John is really like being on vacation."
- Kurt Russell, The Escape Artist: Kurt Russell Walks Tall
Venice, Aug, 1996
"I think his behavior represents a lot of the things a lot of
us would like to be able to comfortably do. But in order to be like that, you
have to be someone who's like him. In order to be that politically incorrect,
that incorruptible, and that true to yourself, that fair, you have to have zero
agenda and you have to not care about anybody or anything. That's what we lack.
We care about each other. We care about things. God, I make movies because I
care about trying to make a piece of entertainment. Snake could give a rat's ass
about any of that. But that's admirable. Because of that, there's no way to
corrupt him. I think that comes through. Also, I think that you sense there's a
pathos there. He doesn't entirely like the way he is. He wishes that life didn't
present itself to him the way it does. It's almost like opening a box and
discovering something nobody else sees. He wishes he'd never opened the box, but
it's been opened and he can never change that."
- Kurt Russell, The Escape Artist: Kurt Russell Walks Tall In Hollywood,
Venice, Aug, 1996
"I knew very early on that Snake was a really unique character. One of the
studio people at the time, he said, 'You're talking about a character here who
has no socially redeeming values. We don't start off with his wife being raped,
his family being killed or his daughter being dragged underneath horses. We've
got to explain why he is the way he is.' "So John put in a scene where I rob a
bank with a guy with a limb and the government officers guarding the bank shoot
him just as I'm going back to save him. We put it together and said, 'We don't
need this scene, we don't need to explain anything about this guy.' The first
time you see the character, I think you get the point. You don't get a guy who
was born evil. You get a guy who became disillusioned, angry and disappointed to
the point where he is now evil. He's bad news. Snake's a sociopath. He's beyond
redemption. He couldn't care less. He'll shoot the president. He'll shoot a
skinhead on the street. He'll shoot Che Guevara.
He'll shoot Abe Lincoln. Doesn't make a difference to him. He's down the road."
- Kurt Russell, The Great Escape, Melody Maker, Sep 28, 1996
almost a character you could play silently. I think if you do things without
words, it's more fun to watch. And Snake is a guy that the less he says, the
better off he is. He has such a crude philosophy of life that whenever he
speaks, it's generally with some sort of sardonic, acerbic sense of the
ridiculous. But he's not a comedian - he puts nothing into it."
- Kurt Russell,
Once a Snake... Kurt Russell Is Back In Snake's
Clothes, Video Eyeball, Vol 2, Issue 6, Nov-Dec, 1996
Debra Hill on Snake Plissken
"I think Snake Plissken represents the other side of
America. The unpatriotic patriotic side of America. The kind of character that
we all wanna be, but are afraid to be. He's a guy who doesn't want to be told
what to do. He's a guy who doesn't want us to legislate laws that take away personal freedoms. And that's why
I think he's so cool. He's an anti-hero and I think that what makes America love
him so much."
- Debra Hill, Return To Escape From New York featurette, 2003
Whitney Scott Bain,
Christopher Chouinard, Karin
Costa, David Fakrikian, Gina DeDomenico
Flanagan, Fred Fouchet,
Tom Higginson, Louise Jaffe, William Luduena, Mark Neilson,
"Sweden" Olsson, Abe
Perlstein, Roger Romage, John Sencio, Fireball
The Official John Carpenter
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