Great Characters Wiki

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Joseph "Joe" C. Gillis is the main protagonist of the 1950 Billy Wilder film Sunset Boulevard. He the posthumous narrator who explained the events leading up to his death in the beginning of the film. He was a screenwriter for Hollywood who ended up having to stay with Norma Desmond, who ultimately kills him in the end.

He was portrayed by the late William Holden.

Why He Rocks

  1. As a character, he's used as a symbol of Billy Wilder's frustrations and fears he got as a personal writer in real life.
  2. He's one of the very first users of the "how we got here" trope used in various forms of media.
  3. With everything going on with him -- being unable to think of new script ideas, nearly losing his car, being forced to stay in Norma's place, and his death -- he's an easy target for viewers to sympathize with and feel for.
  4. His trait for being humorous and a constant snarker makes him a pretty entertaining screenwriter.
  5. His relationships with Norma may not be very healthy, but he still has some pretty touching scenes with her. His brief relationship with Betty was much better and the moments together were pretty memorable.

Bad Qualities

  1. There are some who might say he isn't as fleshed out as some of the other characters.