Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 518
Eddie, a Hollywood casting director. Heavily into drugs and alcohol, upset by the chaos and hypocrisy of the world in which he lives, and unable to maintain relationships with women, he tries to find “clarity” and meaning in his life. Unable to do so, he becomes obsessed with semantics and language, trying to express precisely the swirl of thoughts that go through his mind; this trait drives the other characters to anger and frustration. In spite of being self-centered and foul-mouthed, he demonstrates isolated moments of caring, as in his friendship with Phil. Eddie asserts that Mickey’s death saves him from being another Mickey, although it does not provide him with any answers.
Mickey, Eddie’s roommate, a casting director. Maintaining a mask of convention and reason, he does not allow himself to respond or react to the provocations and needs of the other characters. Smug, noncommittal, and cynical, he observes their actions with bemused detachment and condescension. His moral passivity and inaction mark him as too carefully controlled to be caring; nevertheless, he is full of resentment and animosity, however veiled, toward Phil, who is taking his place in a friendship with Eddie.
Phil, an out-of-work bit actor. Driven by chaotic and violent inner feelings that he cannot understand, he gradually loses the little self-control that he has. His desperate need for a friendship with Eddie, which causes Mickey to view him as an intruder, brings out the more humane side of his personality. After assaulting Bonnie and kidnapping his child after the most recent separation from his wife, he kills himself in an automobile crash, leaving Eddie to puzzle out the meaning of his death.
Artie, an older Jewish film producer. Constantly making deals that never seem to materialize, he is anxious, obnoxious, and self-deluding. At certain points, he functions like a father figure, trying to give advice. At other times, he attempts to become part of the fraternity of male bonding going on at Eddie’s, participating in the use of drugs and women to blunt reality.
Darlene, an attractive photojournalist and Eddie’s lover. Tired of Eddie’s constant angst and attracted by the relative peace of Mickey’s nonseriousness, she, like the other female characters, becomes a source of their arguments. Also like the other female characters, she is viewed as an object to be passed back and forth among them, an attitude that she refuses to accept, asserting that she should have something to say about who she wants to be with.
Bonnie, a divorced mother of one who supports herself as a stripper. Partial to Eddie, she has a reputation as an easy, good-time party girl. After Phil assaults her, she confronts Eddie with her pain, desperation, and anger at his total lack of pity for her.
Donna, a fifteen-year-old runaway. Brought to Eddie’s home by Artie, she is willing to exchange sex with any of the men there for a place to stay and food to eat. As dispossessed as Phil, and more abused, she nevertheless has a strong survival instinct.