Meryl Streep practically begged for the title role in Sophie's Choice. And Captain Jack Sparrow played by Johnny Depp saved the movie Pirates of the Caribbean.
Your character should be so unforgettable, so unique that it carries the movie across. A good character is multi-dimensional with strengths and flaws.
A good character has a rich history, a biography that forms his emotional life. What is his birth like? Childhood? Defining incidents in life? Education?
Next, what is his professional life, his personal life and his private life?
- Professional: What is his job? Are they sad/happy about it? Etc.
- Personal: Marital status, friends, hobbies, etc.
- Private: What does he do alone? Pray? Exercise?
A good character is active not passive. He acts not just reacts to the situation around him.
Four things that make a good character:
- Dramatic Need: What does he/she want?
- Point of View: How does he/she view the world? Anne Frank would differ from HItler
- Attitude: How they feel and act, their opinions that shape their decisions.
- Change: During your screenplay, what change do they undergo?
Every scene, every interaction reveals some aspect of your character. "What is character but the determination of incident? And what is incident but the illumination of character?" - Henry James.