Characters: The Usual Suspects

Michael McManus (Stephen Baldwin)

Top notch entry man. Crazy, though.

  • Hair-Trigger Temper: He's usually the first to start cursing up a storm when things go wrong.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Fenster. He is the one who requested that Fenster be buried.
  • Jerkass: Even if you overlook his job, he's not a nice person.
  • The Lancer: He backs Keaton up the most.
  • Pet the Dog: He rubs the head of a dog as he enters the boat during the climax and it is shown that he actually cared about longtime partner in crime Fenster, even requesting that he be given a proper burial on the beach.
  • Posthumous Character: As with the majority of the main cast.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Seriously, just read some of his dialogue.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: With Fenster. They're almost always seen together.

Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne)

Keaton was the real prize for them, for obvious reasons.

  • Chronic Villainy: He wants to go straight, but his criminal past comes back to haunt him and drags him into the life again. He asks Verbal Kint to give her his last message:
    Tell her I tried.
    • Of course, this might not have been true, since Verbal made the whole story up.
  • Dirty Cop: He was on the police force before he turned to crime, and still has insider knowledge he can use for heists. (Also helpful is the fact that a lot of the guys still on the force are also dirty.)
  • Faking the Dead: Kujan reveals to Kint that Keaton had done this sometime before the events of the film.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: See Chronic Villainy. He wants to give up the life of crime (or so he claims), but he can never seem to manage it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He does care for Edie and for Verbal's safety (or so Verbal says) but when you look into his past he seems just as bad as the other characters. Which is another sign that Verbal's story isn't what it seems.
  • The Leader: Kind of the boss of the group.
  • Only Sane Man: The most rational of the criminals.
  • Posthumous Character: He dies in the opening scene. The rest of the movie consists of flashbacks leading up to his death.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Inverted, at first he believes a job is highly successful when nobody be it on his team or the victims get hurt. However if it happens, he doesn't bat an eye at it.
  • Token Good Teammate: Probably the least evil of the gang.

Fred Fenster (Benicio Del Toro)

A real tightass, but when it came to the job he was right on. A smart man.

  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Even in-universe, characters have trouble making sense of his slurred English. Benicio del Toro decided he was playing "a black Chinese Puerto Rican Jew".

Todd Hockney (Kevin Pollak)

Good with explosives. Without a doubt, the one guy who didn't give a fuck about anybody.

  • The Big Guy: Well, he's smallest in height, but Hockney is the one always willing to pick a fight, as well as an expert with explosives, which more than makes up for his stature.
  • Caustic Critic: Enjoys screwing with people by criticizing them.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    Cop: We place you in Queens on the night of the hijacking.
    Hockney: Really? I live in Queens. Did you figure that out yourself, Einstein? What, you got a team of monkeys working around the clock on this?

Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey)

It didn't make sense that I'd be there. I mean, these guys were hardcore hijackers. But there I was. At that point I wasn't scared, I knew I hadn't done anything they could do me for. Besides, it was fun. I got to make like I was notorious.
  • Academy Award: Kevin Spacey won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in the role of Verbal Kint.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Inverted, as Verbal spills a lot of the suspects' exploits to Kujan until you realize he's only telling the story to buy time until his release, and that most of it was a big fat lie.
  • Consummate Liar: Verbal is actually talking about himself when he speaks of Soze!
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Many details from Verbal's story turn out to be taken from objects in the room. Verbal is seen looking around the room before his interrogation, and a later shot even shows him looking up at the bottom of Kujan's coffee cup.
  • Meaningful Name:Keyser Söze is either German or Turkish. Kaiser, a homonym of Keyser, is the German word for emperor, and Söze means "talks too much" in Turkish, making Keyser Söze "Emperor Talks Too Much," a hint that he is "Verbal" Kint, who says he's accused of talking too much.
  • Personal Effects Reveal: The golden watch and cigarette lighter given to Kint as he leaves the police station are the same items that Soze is shown to possess at the beginning of the film.
  • Saying Too Much: Verbal actually does admit to killing Keaton, although it is fairly unintelligible due to Kujan's yelling, and he quickly shades the slip-up by covering it with, "I did see Keaton get shot."
  • Seamless Spontaneous Lie: His entire story.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Exploits Kujan's belief that Keaton was Keyser Size by paying up his physical and mental capabilities.
  • The Smart Guy: Being a con man, relies more on brains than the others, who are mostly hijackers.

Keyser Soze (Kevin Spacey)

  • Ax-Crazy: Soze's backstory told by Kint portrays Söze as this. It turns out that when Kint is detailing all of this to Kujan, he's really talking about himself, so in hindsight, either Kujan has an authentic, first-hand account of Soze's exploits, or a highly exaggerated account from the actual person so that he can build himself up while Kujan does not know the truth.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: He successfully manages to escape the police as Verbal by making up almost the whole story of what happened.
  • Big Bad: The one behind everything in the film.
  • The Chessmaster: Anything that happens in the movie is because he planned it, from the "American confront" to his arrest and eventually release.
  • Fake Nationality: invokedKevin Spacey is not Hungarian or German like Keyser Soze.
  • Gangsta Style: How he disposes of Keaton.
  • Hidden Villain: His appearance remains hidden throughout the entire movie until the very end.
  • Legacy Character: He might be, based on your interpretation as to whether or not Verbal is old enough to be the character of legend.
  • Living Legend: He's considered the bogeyman of the underworld by even the toughest of criminals, who shiver when his name is spoken.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Big time. As Verbal, he almost succeeds in telling a false story to throw off police.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: We only ever see one version of his story, but it's clear there are several. The version we see is simply the one Verbal says he believes.
    Verbal: "He's supposed to be Turkish... some say his father was German... Nobody ever believed he was real. Nobody ever knew him or saw anybody that ever worked directly for him. But to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew; that was his power. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. One story the guys told me, the story I believe, was from his days in Turkey..."
  • Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: Averted, because the police had absolutely no idea...
  • Papa Wolf: Although, he shoots his wife and children after being unwilling to let them live another day after what they've been through.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Unlike most associated with this trope, Soze actually lives up to this reputation.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else: Referred to as "The Devil", but looks just like a normal man, albeit an extremely dangerous one. This is why Verbal would have been the very last person on Earth that Kujan would have suspected to be Keyser Soze.
  • Two Aliases, One Character: He goes by "Verbal" for most of the film.
  • The Unfettered: Nothing can stop him once he decides he's going to do something. Nothing.
    Soze looks over the faces of his family. Then he showed these men of will what will really was.
  • Unstoppable Rage: He killed his wife and children to stop the home invaders from using them as hostages, then killed all but one of the invaders (so he'd go tell his associates), then went out and killed everyone connected with the people who did the home invasion of his house, including people whose only connection was that they owed money to them or had dealings with them.
  • Walking Spoiler: You do see how much of this section is highlighted, right?

Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri)

You know the first thing they teach you in the academy? How to spot a murderer.

  • Break the Haughty: His constant taunting of Verbal's stupidity comes back to bite him big time when the Twist Ending arrives.
  • Good Is Not Nice: He's technically on the side of good, wanting to put criminals in jail and keep the streets. safe. He's still an asshole.
  • Jerkass: He thinks Verbal is stupid and is overly rough on him. Then comes The Reveal...
  • Oh Crap!: His reaction at the end of the film when he realizes that Verbal's entire story was fabricated for his own benefit, and that Verbal himself is the true Keyser Soze.
  • Police Brutality: Fiercely tosses Verbal to the ground in a fit of anger.
  • Secret Test of Character: Agent Kujan tells Verbal that the best way to weed out a professional criminal is round up five guys and place them in a room together. An innocent man will be constantly fretting about what might happen, while the guilty party is going to be calm, trying not to give anything away, and resting as much as possible so he can be sharp when the police question him. Hockney, who is revealed after the fact to be responsible for hijacking the truck from the start of the movie, is the only one not freaking out during the prison scene, and even starts getting upset at how worked up Fenster is.

Mr. Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite)

  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Uses this as a ploy to blackmail the Suspects if they don't cooperate by disclosing that he knows the whereabouts of their closest relatives.
  • Evil Brit: His ethnicity is never confirmed, although "Kobayashi" is a Japanese name, which is contrasted by Postlethwaite giving the character a British-Indian accent. And then there's the fact that Verbal's entire story was fabricated, so "Kobayashi" is not even his real name.
  • I Have Your Wife: He claimed to have men ready to kill the Suspects' loved ones if they don't do as they are told.
  • Jerkass: Albeit a sharp-tongued, emotionless one.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The tone of the film radically changes when he shows up.
  • Manipulative Bastard: With orders from Soze, he cons the Suspects into stopping the dope deal on the Hungarian mob's boat by presenting envelopes detailing every crime they have committed in the past, and threatening the lives of their loved ones.
  • No Name Given: No real name, in any case. Kint took the name "Kobayashi" from the bottom of a coffee mug.
  • The Stoic: Never shows any kind of emotion, even in the face of death. Of course, Keyser Soze will do something worse to him than simply death.
  • Would Hurt a Child: When Keaton's crew has the drop on him, among the many loved ones Koybayashi threatens in order to get them to work for Keyser, including Edie. He makes it clear that he will have McManus' nephew castrated.