• Joe Pace

Favorite Fictional Characters, #101: David Addison


"When they say virgin wool, how do they know?"

While on the topic of rogues, I give you David Addison of Moonlighting. Lest we forget, before his transformation into a jacked-up action star, Bruce Willis was a comic actor, and a pretty good one, with a persistent irreverence and juvenile charm. The full-body wink survived into some of his later work, but is on full display in this classic late-80s dramedy. Moonlighting paired Willis' Addison with Cybill Shepherd's Maddie Hayes as Los Angeles detectives. It was a starmaking vehicle for Willis, and showcased his slouching charisma as the series was one of the early shows to blend drama and comedy effectively.

David Addison was a glib, smarmy, artful dodger, a coarse and yet soft creature who talked a big game and relied on his mouth to get him out of trouble. It was a role made for Willis, who at the time bore more resemblance to Robert Downey, Jr. or Vince Vaughn than to Sylvester Stallone or Vin Diesel. How times change.

The established dynamic between David and Maddie was fairly standard "will they, won't they" fare seen in many places, from Sam and Diane to Mulder and Scully to Ross and Rachel. The sexual chemistry (and real-life feuding) between Willis and Shepherd gave fire to the pairing, and helped make the show a hit. Moonlighting also engaged in the fourth-wall breaking that has become all the rage lately, as characters on the show would routinely become aware they were inhabiting a fictional world, and make references to the network or the producers. Eat your heart out, Wade Wilson.

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