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Jack Rollins (Character)

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

Jack Rollins is a character in Todd HaynesI’m Not There. He is played by Christian Bale and is 1 of 6 different incarnations of Bob Dylan that are portrayed in the film.


Within the film’s universe, Jack Rollins is a popular influential Folk artist in the early 1960’s.

During his first appearance in the film, through a sort of E! True Hollywood Story-style documentary, we learn that he is characterized as a man who “threw his career away”. We learn at this point that he apparently ran away. This documentary is meant to be his first appearance on camera since his initial disappearance from the spotlight.

He is characterized mainly through the interviews given in the documentary by his loved ones.


Later in the film, it is revealed that Jack disappeared in1974, following his girlfriend named Angela Reeves, to convert to Christianity. At the film’s end, he is an ordained minister. At this point of the documentary, Jack, now going under the name of Father John, is interviewed about his regrets about his former life and his difficulties with keeping his past a secret from his followers.


Within the film’s universe, Jack Rollins is a known activist, as is noted by those who are interviewed.

One of the most noteworthy parts of this documentary is when one of the interviewees, Alice Fabian, discusses an event that occurred during the Civil Liberties Union. While giving his speech, Jack publicly stated that he shared some understanding of Lee Harvey Oswald’s alleged actions. This is much like the ideas of Gilles Deleuze. In his essay, Literature and Life,[1] he writes “To write is not to recount one’s dreams and phantasms. It is the same thing to sin through an excess of reality as through an excess of imagination” (227). This is exactly what Jack has done in the scene. Through his power, his imagination, or rather his sense of power and authority, has grown to the point where he believes that he can speak his mind without the need to worry about the possible negative consequences. Naturally, this causes uproar. It is then stated that he later issued a formal apology for his behaviour. It is at the end of this scene that we truly begin to see some connection with Jack Rollins and his in-universe film counterpart.


In addition to Rollins’ connections to Bob Dylan, he also has connections to other Dylan incarnations within the film. In “The Lives of Others: I'm Not There”,[2] Larry Gross writes:

Six Dylan alter egos circulate through the film: Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale are the nearest-to-literal incarnations, with Richard Gere as a mix of Dylan and Billy the Kid, Ben Whishaw as Dylan by way of Rimbaud, and Marcus Franklin, a 10-year-old African-American, embodying Dylan inhabiting the persona of Woody Guthrie. Finally, Heath Ledger plays a movie star haunted by the experience of having recently played “Dylan” in a film within the film. Haynes has previously tried constructing Chinese boxes of allusion, quotation, and pastiche in Superstar and Velvet Goldmine but he masters this strategy in I’m Not There. The film’s thematic center of gravity is the tragicomic success-and-failure of Dylan as a political prophet.

While he does not make direct reference to the fact that Rollins is connected to these characters, he has nonetheless stated how some of them are connected. In the “movie” that Gross notes, the “Dylan” that Heath Ledger’s character, Robbie Clarke, is playing is Jack Rollins. Jack is also connected to Gere’s character and Woody Guthrie through editing, as their scenes are sometimes back to back, indicating either the differences or similarities between the characters. Jack is twice connected to Gere, as both characters are connected to Billy the kid, whom Jack is said to idolize.


  1. Deleuze, Gilles. "Literature and Life." Critical Inquiry 23.2 (1997): 225-30. JSTOR. Web. 05 Apr. 2016.
  2. Gross, Larry. "The Lives of Others: I'm Not There - Film Comment." Film Comment. Film Society of Lincoln Center, n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2016.


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  1. I'm Not There. Dir. Todd Haynes. Prod. John Goldwyn, James D. Stern, and Christine Vachon. By Todd Haynes. Screenplay by Todd Haynes and Oren Moverman. Perf. Cate Blanchett, Ben Whishaw, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Marcus Carl Franklin, Heath Ledger. The Weinstein Company, 2007. DVD.