Some of the most memorable teachers we've ever had are the teachers we never had.
By that we mean the ones that we've seen on film. Some are the extreme caricatures of teachers we've known, while others are the embodiment of the teachers we wish we had — perhaps wish to become. Regardless, teachers as portrayed in the movies offer a glimpse of the humor, humanity, and sheer effort that their real-life counterparts add to our lives and their vocation.
Here are some of our favorites.
1. The economics teacher in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
Ben Stein's deadpan drone epitomized the quiet agony of sitting through a high school lecture.
2. Ms. Norbury in "Mean Girls"
Tina Fey was perfect. Her sufficiently awkward Ms. Norbury just got it.
3. Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies
Alan Rickman's portrayal of the deeply wounded Professor of Dark Arts found its reconciliation in the final chapter of the saga, where Snape's backstory reveals him to be an unexpected Byronic hero driven by unrequited love.
4. Mr. Hand in "Fast Times At Ridgemont High"
Ray Walston was simultaneously terrifying and hilarious as history teacher Mr. Hand, who did not suffer fools — or stoned surfers — gladly.
5. Mr. Duvall in "Mean Girls"
Arguably the greatest movie principal in history.
6. Mr. Anderson in "The Perks of Being A Wallflower"
17 years after playing Alicia Silverstone's kind-of-step-brother Josh in Amy Heckerling's "Clueless," Paul Rudd became the high school English teacher – wise, understanding, accessible – that we all wish we had in "The Perks of Being A Wallflower."
7. Mr. Keating in "Dead Poets Society"
Robin Williams' character taught his students — and millions of movie-goers — to seize the day.
8. Katherine Ann Watson in "Mona Lisa Smile"
Set at Wellesley College in the 1950s, "Mona Lisa Smile" took a hard look at the gender norms of the period.
At the time, Julia Roberts' $25 million dollar pay for the project made her the highest-paid actress in Hollywood.
Her speech, shown above, is one of the many highlights of the 2003 film.
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