When Movie Character Names Collide: Charles Swan in 'Twilight' Vs. 'Charles Swan III'

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You have to wonder if there's a secret pact within Hollywood to use certain character names as inside jokes, or perhaps a covert Freemason message. While the latter will never be proven, the former might be if anybody bothers to leak as much as they do other Hollywood tightly kept secrets. If it ever gets out, we might find out if it's just coincidence or some kind of giant tongue in cheek connection behind Charlie Sheen's new movie "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III" and the patriarch Charles Swan in the "Twilight" movies.

While Stephenie Meyer most likely created Charlie Swan first before Roman Coppola wrote "Charles Swan III", the similarities between the two are quite apparent other than career. Both have breakups with their significant others, and both subsequently have trouble getting over the split. The only difference is that "Twilight's" Charles Swan is a cop in modern day Washington State, while Charlie Swan is a graphic designer in the 1970s (with no daughter who becomes a vampire).

Is it possible the name Charlie Swan is a new, unique character name we'll see turn up in other films down the road? It's a well-constructed moniker that can be used with characters of any personality trait. However, it's not the first character name that's floated around in movies as possible inside jokes or tributes to earlier films.

In the modern era, the most used name seems very British in nature: Nigel. That appellation has appeared in three computer-animated features in the last decade. You know Nigel the Pelican in "Finding Nemo", though you may have forgotten there's a Nigel in animated "Rio" and the less seen "The Wild." All of those may have been a tangential tribute to the very British Nigel in 1984's "This is Spinal Tap."

Despite that overuse of a British sobriquet, let's not forget a couple of very American-sounding character names that connected between two different films. One of those is Doug Roberts, a name you see in 1955's "Mister Roberts" and then Paul Newman's character in "The Towering Inferno" nearly 20 years later. In keeping with character tags from the military, there couldn't be a more American name than Captain Miller who appeared in both 1997's "Event Horizon" and "Saving Private Ryan" the next year.

Jackie Chan's Mr. Han in the recent remake of "The Karate Kid" couldn't help but be a tribute to a nefarious character with the same moniker in Bruce Lee's swansong "Enter the Dragon." And if you're not aware that the name Harry Potter first showed up as father and son characters in the 1986 movie "Troll", then you weren't paying attention. Yes, the producers of "Troll" have long thought J.K. Rowling borrowed more than just a namesake, which could become a highly litigious case once a "Troll" remake goes into production.

Should there be future legal repercussions over the cross use of iconic character designations, it may mean going back to the phone book in creating interesting film names. In America, it might be worth a think to screenwriters when considering how many unusual names still exist within the American fabric that go far beyond Doug Roberts, Captain Miller, and the British naming pool.

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