- “Amusing title... "Anyone Can Cook". What's even more amusing is that Gusteau actually seems to believe it. I, on the other hand, take cooking seriously, and no, I don't think anyone can do it.”
- ―Anton Ego, regarding Gusteau's book
Anton Ego is the secondary antagonist of Disney•Pixar's 2007 animated feature film, Ratatouille. He was a cutthroat food critic who was made infamous for his scathing reviews and cold exterior. Despite his generally negative criticism, Ego was the most acclaimed food connoisseur in Paris.
The name Ego is from the Latin meaning of "I" or "self", but is now associated with egotism (narcissism) or egoism (self-interest). This would allude to a certain level of vanity and arrogance on the part of Anton. He has nothing but contempt for the people around him combined with a cruel sense of humor and something of a sadistic streak. However, unlike Skinner, he is not presented as a genuinely villainous man. He shows a great amount of humility and indeed sentiment after eating Remy's dish of ratatouille, thus learning the secret of Gusteau's.
Ego is extremely passionate about food, claiming, "I don't like food, I love it", and claims to refuse to swallow food that he doesn't like, which explains why he's so thin.
He is a man of great taste and distinction, showing knowledge of fine wines as well as food.
Ego is intelligent and sophisticated and in terms of dress sense, completing his dark, dapper suit with a chic scarf.
Role in the film
Ego is an imperious and acerbic food critic, whose reviews can make or break a restaurant. He adamantly rejects Gusteau's belief that "anyone can cook", and was a firm critic of the idealist chef. Following a negative review from Ego, Gusteau's restaurant was downgraded from five to four stars. Gusteau died mysteriously soon after. The restaurant then lost another star with his death. In his career-killing review, he compared Chef Gusteau to the Italian-American Chef Boyardee, who like Gusteau was also a well-known and successful chef in his home country who was reduced to a face on prepared foods after his death.
When he had heard that Gusteau's was rising in popularity with Remy as the cook, he personally offers the most amount of time to a challenge to the restaurant in which they must deliver "their best shot" to impress him. Remy chose to serve Ego a dish of ratatouille, which is so brilliant it reminds Ego of his mother's cooking. Tears flow from his eyes, and when he requests to see the chef, Linguini and Colette tell him to wait until after the customers have gone. When the closing hour is struck, Linguini reveals Remy. Ego initially believes it to be a jest, but after hearing Linguini explain and viewing Remy perfectly recreate the dish, he thanks them for the meal and quietly leaves. A changed man, Ego finally understands what Gusteau meant: While not everyone can be an artist, true talent can be found out in a few in the most unusual place. He presents a shining review of the restaurant, in particular praising Remy without mentioning his identity. Ego then loses his job and credibility as a critic when Gusteau's is closed down due to the presence of rats, despite not mentioning them at all in his review. He now leads a successful and a happy life as an investor and regular patron of the small bistro La Ratatouille, with queues around the block and where the cook is a small rat.
Anton Ego is an example of a realistic villain/antagonist, one who faces adverse action or reformation, rather than simply getting destroyed at the end, in sharp contrast to most other Disney villains who refuse to change their ways.
- Anton Ego appears to be loosely based on Giulio Andreotti, the Italian Prime Minister and recent subject of the film Il Divo. They are very similar in both speech and physical appearance, and both strike fear into those whose lives they can influence.
- Ego’s skin becomes less pale after he takes the first bite of the ratatouille. This symbolizes him becoming a sympathetic character as he is reminded of his mother’s cooking.
- Ego's appearance was modeled after Louis Jouvet.
- Ego is also known as "The Grim Eater" within the press.
- At one point in the film, Bomb Voyage can be seen as a mime in the background. There is a young boy watching him do his tricks, whose model is re-used from a young Anton Ego.
- Anton's office is shaped as a coffin and his typewriter seems to have a skull motif on it, setting the mood of the character.
- Despite being French, the name "Anton" is German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Slavic, and Romanian rather than French. Many French people use the name "Antoine" which is also a form of the English name, "Anthony."
- Ironically, the name means "beyond praise" despite his critical nature.