Characters / The Prestige

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW.

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    Alfred Borden 

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/borden_1305.jpg

"The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything."

Portrayed By: Christian Bale

A working-class magician with the stage name "The Professor", and a rival to Robert Angier. He was arrested at the start of the movie for allegedly murdering Robert Angier. Their rivalry started when he accidentally caused the death of Angier's wife in a magic trick. When in jail, he received Angier's journal, and began to go through the events that Angier had experienced.

He is actually a set of twins (called Albert and Freddie in the books) sharing Alfred's identity, with the one playing Alfred while the other disguises as Fallon, and the two regularly switch characters between them. The secret is kept to everyone, including their lovers.
  • A Lighter Shade of Grey: Borden makes himself slightly less worthy of contempt than Angier, as he never attempts to kill Angier, despite Angier trying twice to kill him, and Fallon once. Even the more obsessive Borden tries to save Angier during his frame-up.
    • Borden always attempts to sacrifice his own life, while Angier tends to sacrifice others including his own clones. This, combined with Borden's love for Jess, Sarah and Olivia makes him more sympathetic.
    • One of the twins is an even lighter shade of grey, as he is the only one out of the three main protagonists to try to end the cycle of revenge.
  • Always Identical Twins: The two are completely identical, allowing both of them to appear as Alfred Borden or Fallon by dressing up in a fatsuit and spectacles.
  • Bullet Catch: NOPE. Definitely not played straight. He has to get two fingers chopped off for it, as does his twin.
  • The Determinator: He will go out of his way to best Angier and match his twin near exactly - no matter how much hell he has to go through to do it.
  • Famous Last Words: "Abracadabra."
  • Fingore: He lost two fingers when Angier sabotaged his bullet catch trick. His twin also gets the same fingers deliberately chopped off so they can preserve their act of sharing the same identity.
  • Iconic Item: His red bouncy ball, which he uses in his original Transported Man act, and hangs on to in the years since. Even Caldlow comments on his attachment to it.
  • Insufferable Genius: Sure, he's a good magician, just a bad performer.
  • Jerkass: Or so it seems. Turns out they are. Their dedication to the trick, caused Julia to die in a tragic (and preventable) accident, and it drove Sarah to suicide. True one twin loved her, but the other twin didn't and he was very nasty and abusive towards to her, and the one who did love her didn't do anything to stop it. Eventually poor Sarah couldn't take it anymore.
  • Out-Gambitted: Numerous times by Angier, although Borden comes out on top.
  • Rival Turned Evil: To Angier.
  • Tomato Surprise: Him actually being two people sharing a single identity, and the other always disguised as Fallon when one is appearing as Borden.
  • Twin Switch: How Cutter guesses he performs the Transported Man. In fact, the Bordens use it for their entire life.
  • Walking Spoiler: It's impossible to really talk about him without spoiling the major plot twist at the end.
  • What Have We Ear?: A favorite trick of his to impress children.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Or so it seems.

    Robert Angier 

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/angier_8129.jpg

"He lives in his act."

"Man's reach exceeds his imagination!"

Portrayed By: Hugh Jackman

An aristocratic magician with the stage name "The Great Danton", and a rival to Borden. He was found dead in a water tank at the start of the movie, allegedly murdered by Alfred Borden. Originally a companion to Borden, the two developed a rivalry when Borden caused the death of Angier's wife, Julia. Angier decided to pay back by trying to be better than Borden in his magic career, and resorted to increasingly unpleasant tactics, eventually stealing Borden's encrypted journal to find the tricks behind his Transported Man trick.

In a way, he didn't die. The magic trick he was showing when he was "killed", his own version of the Transported Man, works by using a magical machine invented by Nikola Tesla that creates a clone of him in a displaced location, while the original Angier is deliberately drowned. After his supposed murder, the surviving clone "renamed" himself to his real name, Lord Caldlow, having lived under the Robert Angier pseudonym the whole time.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: As Lord Caldlow. Hard to know if he was always this way, or if he slipped into this as time moved on.
  • Cloning Blues: He gets philosophical about whether he is the original or the clone after each trick. Doesn't help that, after the first use of the machine, the Angier inside it shoots the other one, while during the shows, the Angier in the machine is the one who constantly drowns while the Angier outside repeats the act in the next show.
  • The Determinator: Whereas Borden's case was kind of justified, Angier went kind of mad. He kills himself multiple times just to please his fans and best Borden.
  • Expendable Clone: Deconstructed. If you believe "the real" Angier is "the man in the box" then he killed himself in his first show. If you believe it's "the prestige" then Angier was shot by his clone during the first test of the machine.
  • Final Speech: After the surviving Borden twin shot him, he gives a final "World of Cardboard" Speech about their rivalry and how it drove them both to tragic ends before dying of his gunshot wound.
  • Go Seduce My Archnemesis: He ordered Olivia to become a spy under Borden so he can know about the trick behind his Transported Man trick.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: After his wife, Julia, drowns onstage, setting the rivalry between him and Cutter (at first) against Borden.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Played straight with one of his clones, averted with Angier himself.
  • Mad Artist: To explain why would be spoileriffic.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Is revealed to be of wealthy nobility and his real name is Lord Caldlow yet wants to be a common magician. This explains why Angier is able to fund several expensive start-ups despite several failures at the hands of Borden and then fund Telsa's research.
  • Out-Gambitted: Between him and Borden, and no good comes of it to Angier.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: He's able to use Cutter's connections to get right into the big theaters. In contrast to Bordern who's first solo gig is in a cheap music hall.
  • Twinmaker: How the Transported Man really works. Angier blinds the audience with a flash of electricity and sends his body down a trap shut to be drowned, while a cloned Angier appears 40 feet across the room to everyone's amazement. All the while Angier doesn't know if it is him the one who dies or the one who appears.
  • Twin Switch: Between him and Root.
  • The Unfettered: He was initially unwilling to "get your hands dirty" like killing doves for his acts. As the story progresses he does anything to upstage Borden such as shooting him, kidnapping, stealing his act, framing him for his own death and killing his clones 100 times (or himself since he first shoots the Angier who appears a few meters from the machine) for the Transported Man.
  • Walking Spoiler: The secret behind the Real Transported Man is one of the plot's main twists.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: In the end he is resolute that it was, which is disgusting considering the lengths he took.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: He delivers one as a Final Speech just before he dies, talking to Borden about their rivalry.

    Lord Caldlow 

Spoiler in this image. 

Borden: You must be Lord Caldlow—
Angier: Caldlow. Yes, I am. I always have been.

Portrayed By: Hugh Jackman

An aristocrat who is a collector of machines used in magical acts. He is actually Robert Angier, and Robert Angier is his pseudonym. See his folder for tropes that describe him and his Caldlow persona.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Acts through his lawyer to cover the fact that he's Angier himself. Or maybe the most recent clone.

    John Cutter 

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cutter_6360.jpg

"Obsession is a young man's game."

"Every great magic trick consist of three parts or acts."

Portrayed By: Michael Caine

An ingenieur who works with Borden and Angier.
  • Almighty Janitor: He's long moved on from the limelight to behind the scenes, but he's been in the business long enough that he's good friends with most of the theatre owners and agents in London. So he can call in favors to help his young protégé get his big break.
  • Cassandra Truth: He told Angier that Borden was using a double the entire time.
  • The Man Behind the Man: He's the one who finds the theatres for Angier to perform at. He also builds the devices, contraptions, and designs for the illusions that Angier performs. Except the last one.
  • The Mentor: To both Angier and Borden.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Towards Angier after he sees him alive and well after previously thought to be dead, as Lord Caldlow, and letting Fallon hang.

    Nikola Tesla 

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/teslaprestige_4032.jpg

"Exact science is not exact science."

"Nothing is impossible Mr. Angier - what you want is simply expensive."

Portrayed By: David Bowie

The famous real-life inventor currently working in America who helps Borden and Angier with their magic. Actually, he had never helped Borden. Borden deceived Angier into going to America and pour all of his resources on a nonexistent magical Tesla machine that Borden supposedly used to create his Transported Man trick. Unfortunately for both of them, Tesla did create a magical machine, a machine that can clone things perfectly.

    Alley 

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/alley_2472.jpg

"You're a magician. Who's gonna believe you?"
Portrayed By: Andy Serkis

Tesla's assistant.


  • Pet the Dog: He appears genuinely distressed when Telsa wants to use his cat for an experiment.

    Fallon 

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/fallon_4231.jpg

Portrayed By: Christian Bale

Borden's mysterious ingenieur after Julia's death. Fallon is a constructed identity used to disguise the other of the Borden brothers when one of them is appearing as Alfred Borden. The two constantly exchange characters as part of their kayfabe.
  • Buried Alive: By Angier. He gets dug out, though.
  • The Quiet One: He says only two lines in the film, because of his sounding alike to Borden.

    Gerald Root 

"I've played Caesar, I've played Faust - how hard can it possibly be to play the Great Danton?"

Portrayed By: Hugh Jackman

A washed up actor who Angier uses for a double for his first attempt at replicating Borden's Transported Man trick.

     Sarah Borden 

"I know what you really are!"

Portrayed By: Rebecca Hall

Borden's wife.
  • Break the Cutie: Borden, or rather, his twin, does this to her over time.
  • Driven to Suicide: Hangs herself when she realises what her marriage really is.
  • Spot the Impostor: She can always tell when her husband really means it when he tells her he loves her. Over time, it's suggested that she figures out what's really going on.

    Olivia Wenscombe 

Portrayed By: Scarlett Johansson

An assistant to both Angier and Borden.


  • Distracted by the Sexy: As Cutter says, a pretty assistant is the easiest form of misdirection.
  • Lovely Assistant: She is hired mainly for her looks, rather than experience.
  • The Mistress: Becomes one to Borden, the one who loves magic more than Sarah.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Wears some very skimpy outfits on stage, and is often seen in nightwear offstage.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Towards Borden's twin after he drives Sarah to suicide.
    Olivia: "You married her. You had a child with her."
    Borden's twin: Yes. Part of me did. But the other part - the other part didn't. The part that found you, the part that's sitting here right now.
    Olivia: You could be in some other cafe saying the same thing about me right now. It's inhuman to be so cold.

    Owens 

Portrayed By: Roger Rees

A solicitor who works for Lord Caldlow.



http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/ThePrestige