The Simpson/Bruckheimer Guide to Creating Characters

“You two characters…are going to Top Gun.”

Ray Ban Aviators

image credit: Pablo Cocito Photography

I’m sure you’ve heard of Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean, CSI, etc.). But some of you may have forgotten about his producing partner during the eighties and nineties, Don Simpson.

Don Simpson himself was a very colorful character. Stories of excess scatter Simpson’s biography. Perhaps his own personal characteristics provided him the ability to understand the importance of character and how people relate to characters. Unfortunately, Don died in 1996 leaving Jerry to a successful solo career.

Lucky for us he left a great legacy as together these guys produced some of the most memorable movies of a generation.

Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, Days of Thunder, Bad Boys, The Rock and a few others.

Why did their movies hit it big with a wide audience?


Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer made movies with memorable characters. The movies had plots that centered on characters and their personal stories.

Growing up I wanted to be Maverick flying around in jets impressing all of the girls. I wanted to be heroic like Stanley Goodspeed and take on a maniac on Alcatraz Island.

Simpson and Bruckheimer understood how audiences related to characters and they used their knowledge to entertain audiences while making billions doing it.

I’d say my favorite of their collaborations is Top Gun.

Here is a full list of Simpson/Bruckheimer collaborations.

Top Gun is full of memorable characters. The flick is overstuffed with quotable lines and even karaoke numbers.

People still connect with the characters in this movie.

Your goal for your business should be to create your own character and connect with characters to build up your audience. Create characters within your business.

And just as the F-14 was a character in the movie Top Gun, your products should be characters too.

To gain a better understanding of the movie producing duo’s success…

Here’s the Simpson/Bruckheimer guide to characters

Characters Appear Larger Than Life

While it’s easy to appear larger than life on the big screen, the characters that Simpson and Bruckheimer focused their movies on did live life larger than most.

Live your life large on the Web. Meet new people. Engage them with conversation. Ask them questions. Make them feel like they’re the most important person in the world.

Do this and to them you’ll be a larger than life character.

Characters Do Strange Things

Have you ever played volleyball in blue jeans in the Southern California heat? I haven’t, but I can only imagine that it wouldn’t be very comfortable. But it sure looks cool. And the ladies apparently like it when you flex while checking your wrist watch.

These are strange character traits, but they stand out to observers.

In order to stand out on the Web you’ll have to create your own unique nuances. Create your own unique voice on your blog.

Add unique features to your products.

Do whatever you can to do the opposite of what everybody else is doing.

This is how you’ll stand out and attract an audience.

Characters Have Flaws

In the Simpson/Bruckheimer movies the characters had flaws. By showing these flaws, S/B allowed the audience to relate to the characters.

Flaws show the human side of larger than life characters. Flaws allow audience members to see themselves in the characters. And if the audience can relate to the characters’ flaws they can relate to their successful attributes as well.

This is empowering.

Don’t be afraid to show your flaws on the Web. You’re not perfect and nobody expects you to be.

Your audience will relate to you if they see you as equally human.

And if they can relate to your flaws they’ll also be inspired by your success.

Most Importantly, Characters are Memorable

More than anything the characters in the S/B movies were memorable. For all of the reasons mentioned above these characters will stick in our memories forever.

We and others will remember the songs, the lines, and the nuances of the characters.

True characters are memorable.

In order to have a successful business on the Web you’ll have to make yourself memorable. You’ll have to work to build your own character.

You want people to quote you; to talk about your unique personality traits, and to ultimately share your content with others.


Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer understood the importance of characters. Their ability to bring characters to life on the big screen allowed them to become two of the most successful characters in the picture industry. They themselves were characters, which gave them a step-up on the rest of the producers in Hollywood.

To succeed on the Web you’ll need to build your own character.

Appear larger than life, do strange things (not too strange), acknowledge your flaws, and most importantly be memorable.

Think about the successful Web entrepreneurs, they’re all characters in their own unique way.

Become your own character and you’ll be destined for success, just like a character in a Simpson/Bruckheimer movie.


The characters and their story in Top gun still reaches an audience today as you can see by the more than 2,500,000 views of the Top Gun Anthem on YouTube.

It is a great song. They just don’t play guitar like that anymore (update – the guitarist is Steve Stevens).

And of course…

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Dayne Shuda

I'm a blogger and hunting enthusiast. Follow me on Twitter.