Tom Benn was born in 1987 and grew up in Stockport, but now lives and works in Norwich. His debut, The Doll Princess, is a gritty urban noir set in 90s Manchester in the wake of the IRA bombings. A speedy, adrenaline-fuelled chase through the underworld, it centres on Bane, a loan shark and fixer on a mission to find out who killed his childhood sweetheart. Tom Benn’s filmic Alter Ego is Roy Batty in Blade Runner. EITHNE FARRY
Roy Batty is my favourite sympathetic villain. He’s vicious, noble and fashion-conscious (the very foundations of cyberpunk were built upon his coat collar). He also has an extremely flexible girlfriend.
Roy, a replicant (an artificial human being), has come to Earth to try and force a meeting with his maker, in the hope he will be able to extend his life beyond its programmed four years. Our gumshoe hero, Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, must ‘retire’ Roy and the rest of his gang.
I’ve always felt for Roy. Most of us are full of questions, frightened of death, and at some point in our lives, want someone to blame for our design flaws. We’d probably be better off accepting what we can change about ourselves, and what we can’t. God is the ultimate absent dad. ‘I’m surprised you didn’t come sooner,’ Dr Tyrell, Roy’s maker, tells him. It’s very satisfying watching Roy beat him in a game of chess.
Rutger Hauer is otherworldly: his platinum hair and permanent sweat-glaze make him a lizard in the neon jungle of future LA. I watched the final cut of Blade Runner recently, and while the visuals are gorgeous, the dialogue is still one part stoic, two parts characters explaining things they’d already know. But Hauer delivers even the most wooden line with a regal menace.
Roy isn’t just a badass; he’s the most fiercely human character in a film where potentially no one is. I may not be as stylish or murderous as Roy, but he still speaks to me, and I always root for him over Deckard.
And although Roy doesn’t find the answers he needs to be able to cheat death, he does discover what it means to be human.