Characters / The Usual Suspects

Michael McManus (Stephen Baldwin)

Top notch entry man. Crazy, though.

  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric. The most leader oriented member of the the group.
  • 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.
  • It's Personal: Wants revenge on Kobayashi after Fenster's death.
  • 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.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic. He's very quiet and bitter about his Redemption Failure and is generally quite withdrawn and depressed,
  • 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.
  • Redemption Failure: At the beginning of the film, he's trying to persuade some investors to fund a restaurant that he wants to open, only for the cops to show up.
  • 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?
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric. A more aggressive version of this than McManus. He's without a doubt, the most violent of the group and has a short temper as well as a loud mouth.
  • In the Back: Shot in the back when he finds the money. He turns around to apparently see his attacker and is promptly shot in the head.
  • Jerkass: The biggest one of the group. Constantly criticizing others and insulting them. Verbal even Lampshades this.
    Verbal: "Without a doubt, the one guy who didn't give a fuck about anybody."

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.
  • Bring News Back: Keaton's final orders to Verbal are to take the money and find Edie to bring down Kobayashi.
  • Consummate Liar: Verbal is actually talking about himself when he speaks of Söze!
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Exploits Kujan's belief that Keaton was Keyser Söze by playing up his physical and mental capabilities.
  • Firing One-Handed: Does this a lot due to his cerebral palsy.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic. The most calm and rational member of the group, and also the most easy going. Or so he seems.
  • 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 Söze is shown to possess at the beginning of the film.
  • The Quiet One: Ironically, he says very little during the flashbacks.
  • 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 Smart Guy: Being a con man, relies more on brains than the others, who are mostly hijackers.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: In the most famous shot of the nineties, Verbal can walk normally when he leaves the police station.
  • Unreliable Narrator: His version of events is designed to point Kujan's suspicion toward Keaton, whom he already hates.
  • Villainous Widow's Peak: Verbal tries to disguise his thinning hairline (Spacey was already balding here) with backcombing.

Keyser Söze (Kevin Spacey)

  • Ax-Crazy: Söze'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 Söze'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.
  • Coat, Hat, Mask: Söze appears in the opening and flashbacks, but his face is concealed by a dark overcoat and fedora hat.
  • The Chessmaster: Anything that happens in the movie is because he planned it, from the "American confront" to his arrest and eventually release.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster: Most of his personal effects are solid gold.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Söze is a bogeyman in the underworld, but few have ever seen him.
  • Fake Nationality: invokedKevin Spacey is not Hungarian or German like Keyser Söze.
  • Gangsta Style: How he disposes of his victims, including Keaton.
  • He Knows Too Much: Söze kills everyone tangentially involved with the witness's murder, including the hijackers and Keaton's girlfriend, and the only surviving eyewitness dies from his burn injuries. Only Kujan remains.
  • 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.
  • Mixed Ancestry: According to Verbal's version of events, Söze is part-Hungarian, part-German.
  • 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 Söze. 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..."
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Söze is infamous for disposing of his treacherous henchmen in the most excruciating way possible. Failing that, he will execute not only the traitor, but his friends and loved ones, as well. What began as a personal vendetta (the men who attacked his family) became part of his myth.
  • Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: Averted, because the police had absolutely no idea...
  • Sexier Alter Ego:: Verbal imagines him as a long-haired adonis. In reality, he's just short, skinny, balding Kevin Spacey.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Unlike most associated with this trope, Söze actually lives up to this reputation.
  • Slave to PR: He shot his wife and children, unwilling to let them live another day knowing he'd been brought low by home invaders.
  • 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 Söze.
  • 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.
    Söze 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?
  • Wild Hair: Has long, tangled hair in the flashbacks.
  • You Can Keep Her: In the origin tale, the Hungarians who raided his house slit the throat of his daughter to "let him know they meant business". Söze responded by shooting his spouse and remaining child, turned his gun on the knifeman, then told the remaining crook to tell everyone what had transpired at the house. Odds are, nobody ever troubled him again.

Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri)

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

  • Anti-Hero: Unscrupulous Hero. He may have a strong sense of justice and have a great dedication to stopping crime, but he's a violent Jerkass, blackmails people, plants false evidence, is obsessive towards a man who is trying to go straight and assaults unarmed suspects.
  • 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.
  • Hero Antagonist: He is this to Verbal Kint. Trying to get him to spill the whole story and bring down Keyser Söze.
  • Inspector Javert: Is completely convinced that Keaton is still a criminal, no matter what he says or does. Ironically, it's his humiliation of Keaton at the restaurant that leads to Keaton becoming a criminal again.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: A Verbal take on this trope. He constantly threatens and blackmails Verbal into telling him what he wants to know. Becomes physical when he throws him on the ground and wordlessly threatens to beat him up.
  • Jerkass: He thinks Verbal is stupid and is overly rough on him. Then comes The Reveal...
  • Kick the Dog: He humiliates Keaton during his dinner with his potential business associates by arresting him with a large group of agents and mentioning his criminal past. This also ruins his reputation.
    • There's also his haughty and borderline abusive behavior towards Verbal during his interrogation.
  • 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 Söze.
  • Pet the Dog: A minor example when he helps Verbal light his cigarette near the beginning of the film.
  • Police Brutality: Fiercely tosses Verbal to the ground in a fit of anger.
  • Rabid Cop: Has a short temper and has an obsession with Dean Keaton, even if he's trying to pull a Heel–Face Turn.
  • 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.
  • Smug Snake: A heroic version. His gross underestimation of Verbal and his overconfidence in his own intelligence proves to be his own undoing.

Mr. Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite)

  • Amoral Attorney: He works for a Diabolical Mastermind, it's kind of a given.
  • Bald of Evil: No hair on the top of his head and one of the worst people in the film.
  • Boom, Headshot: What he did to Fenster.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Sees his two bodyguards shot from either side of him, yet still keeps his cool, even when McManus proceeds to point a gun at his head.
  • The Dragon: To Keyser Söze, of The Consigliere type. He handles the day-to-day business for Söze and occasionally the dirty work, such as murdering Fenster. He must be very valuable to Söze, since Söze usually has henchmen who are no longer useful to be murdered.
  • 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, specifically Edie, Hockney's father, Verbal's uncle Randall, and McManus' nephew David.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The tone of the film radically changes when he shows up.
  • Manipulative Bastard: With orders from Söze, 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. He also ordered the lineup and interrogation of the suspects at the beginning of the film.
  • 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 Söze 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.

Saul Berg (Carl Bressler)

Jack Baer (Giancarlo Esposito)

  • Jurisdiction Friction: Averted. While the FBI and Customs could clash over investigation of the fire and possession of witness Verbal Kint, he cooperates with Kujan's investigation.
  • Nice Hat: A trilby whose brim he keeps low over his eyes.
  • Unwitting Pawn: He's the one who brings in the name "Keyser Söze", who Verbal is afraid to even talk about. Or so he wants Kujan to think.