They are the people you do not want to deal with. They get what they want when they want it whichever way they prefer to do it. They are called the mobsters, gangsters or wiseguys. And these are the actors who have played the roles so effectively that some people think they are real life gangsters. Here is a list of Hollywood’s favorite gangsters.
10. Ben Kingsley
Who said that only the Sicilians operate mobs? In the movie entitled “Sexy Beast,” elements from the British underworld conspire to rob a bank. Ben Kingsley played the role of Don Logan, a member of the London mob who is tasked of putting together teams to commit different heists. He is violent and manipulative, so much so that Kingsley described the character as probably the unhappiest man in the world. The role bagged for Kingsley an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film itself has been named as one of the greatest British film of all time.
9. Joe Pesci
Joe Pesci has played a mobster in several movies, mostly in films that also involved the director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert de Niro. But his most unforgettable role was as Tommy DeVito in the movie “Goodfellas,” a role that won for him the Best Supporting Actor award at the Oscars. His role was as the short-tempered friend of the main character named Henry Hill, his associate in the Lucchese crime family. His character was killed towards the end of the movie.
8. Joe Mantegna
Joe Mantegna played the role of Joey Zasa, the enforcer who took control of the Corleone family’s interest after Michael Corleone’s semi-retirement. He eventually had a falling out with the family after he was cut off from the distribution of the family’s earnings from its Las Vegas investments. Aside from that, Mantegna also voices the character of Fat Tony in the popular animated series called “The Simpsons.” Fat Tony is the underboss of the Springfield Mafia, answering only to Don Vittorio DiMaggio.
7. James Caan
James Caan had the memorable role of Sonny Corleone in the first installment of “The Godfather.” He was violent and impulsive, which were traits that along with his short temper made him a ruthless killer. He was also the protector of his siblings as he had a close relationship with Michael and Connie. He was also the heir to the throne, serving as the underboss of his father, Don Vito Corleone. The family’s enemies later ambushed Sonny at the Long Beach Causeway toll plaza. He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor for this portrayal.
6. James Cagney
James Cagney played the role of Rocky Sullivan in the 1938 movie called “Angels with Dirty Faces.” Sullivan was a notorious gangster who grew up in reform school. He was only sent because he got caught robbing a railroad car. He could have probably escaped, but he took time to rescue his partner who was about to be ran over by a steam train. The partner eluded police and grew up to be a priest. In the end, the two were on opposite sides of the fence, with Sullivan eventually being sentenced to death. The role won for Cagney a Best Actor nomination at the Oscars.
5. Ray Liotta
Ray Liotta played the role of Henry Hill, the main character in “Goodfellas.” Hill was a member of the Luchesse crime family. He was taken under the wing of the local mob capo and made friends with Jimmy Conway and Tommy Devito. Along the way, the three masterminded heists and drug deals, the latter despite the boss’s warning for them to stop. None of them really made it to the top of the family, with DeVito being murdered for killing a made man without permission. Hill eventually became paranoid because of his cocaine abuse. After the FBI caught him in a raid, he joined the Witness Protection Program as he realized that Jimmy was out to kill him.
4. James Gandolfini
James Gandolfini played the role of Tony Soprano in the hit television drama from HBO entitled “The Sopranos.” He started out as a capo for the DiMeo crime family, before getting promoted as the street boss. He has a short temper and is considered to be a violent sociopath, something that he tried to fix by getting treatment and therapy from Dr. Jennifer Melfi. Gandolfini was nominated six times in the Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a drama series, winning a total of three times.
3. Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando played Don Vito Corleone, the head of his own crime family. He popularized lines like, “I’m gonna make him an offer he won’t refuse.” He was wily and smart and taught Michael the ins and outs of the family business. He barely survived an ambush by his enemies before slowly turning over his power to his youngest son. He died of a heart attack while playing with his grandson. Brando won an Oscar award for Best Actor for this landmark performance.
2. Al Pacino
Al Pacino played two equally memorable gangster roles, one as Tony Montana in “Scarface” and the other as Michael Corleone in “The Godfather” series. The former initially was criticized for its violent content but eventually got acclaimed, with Pacino getting a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. His role as Michael Corleone won him a Best Supporting Actor nomination for “The Godfather” and a Best Actor nomination for “The Godfather Part II.” Pacino also played gangster roles in movies like “Carlito’s Way” and “Donnie Brasco.”
1. Robert de Niro
Robert de Niro has played a gangster in at least 10 movies. The list includes “Mean Streets,” “The Godfather Part II,” “Once Upon a Time in America,” “The Untouchables,” “Goodfellas,” “Casino,” “Heat,” “Analyze This,” “Analyze That” and “Righteous Kill.” He has portrayed everything from mob boss to enforcer, from one who is just starting in the crime business to one who is at his peak and who eventually fell, and from comedy to drama. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as the young Vito Corleone in “The Godfather Part II.”
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