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Characters / American Hustle

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    Irving Rosenfeld
"Did you ever have to find a way to survive and you knew your choices were bad, *but* you had to survive?"
Played By: Christian Bale

A con artist and the main protagonist.

  • The Chessmaster: Excels at this throughout the movie due to the plans he can come up with, even with his life under threat.
  • Con Man: A professional con artist who makes his illegal money through fraudulent bank loans.
  • Consummate Professional: Believe it or not. Irving's approach to conning is much more subdued and logical than everyone else's in the film, preferring his cons to be as meticulously planned and free of possible glitches as possible. Without fail, every time the scheme goes against his suggestions, it spirals out of control.
  • Cool Shades: A set of aviator specs that he rarely removes.
  • Death Glare: Shoots one at Richie after he messes with his comb-over.
  • Dodgy Toupee: The film opens with Irv assembling his combover with a mixture of hairspray, glue, and voodoo. He even slaps on some of his own sheddings and adhesives them to his scalp.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: He goes through quite a struggle throughout the movie but everything works out in his favor at the end.
  • Heel–Face Turn: His guilt regarding Carmine's arrest and loss of his friendship, combined with all the stressful events of the film, result in Irving opening a legitimate art gallery.
  • Heroic BSoD: After confessing to Carmine, he goes through one due to his guilt.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Irving might be an adulterous con man who takes advantage of desperate people, but he's also a loving father. He's also big on honesty and genuine friendship, so it really gets to him when he's forced to take down Carmine Polito.
  • Kavorka Man: By her own admission, the very attractive Sydney is drawn to Irving despite him being a fat schlub with bad comb-over because in public he exudes confidence and just doesn't seem to care.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He is a conman, so this is to be expected. Though, he does get better.
  • Noble Demon: A career criminal who makes a living off scamming others, but is ultimately a fairly sympathetic character and ultimately he attempts to do the right thing and becomes a legitimate businessman.
  • Nobody Touches the Hair: Especially since it's a fragile comb-over.
  • Oh, Crap!: Upon hearing that Tellegio is involved, and realizing that he's now officially in over his head.
  • Only Sane Man: Irving is the only one in the operation who wants to just get things done and go home - no grabbing bigger catches, no running away to Europe, he just wants to do things the right way and be done with it.
  • Papa Wolf: One of Irving's most endearing traits is his truly selfless dedication to his son. ADOPTED son, at that. He is magnitudes a better parent than Rosalyn is.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Particularly towards Richie, and during his big argument with Rosalyn. To be fair, she had nearly gotten him killed.

    FBI Agent Richard 'Richie' DiMaso
"Am I crazy? I don't think so."
Played By: Bradley Cooper

A FBI agent who makes Irving and Sydney work for him.

  • Ambition Is Evil: His eagerness and out-of-control ambition to score bigger and bigger catches are what creates most of the film's conflict.
  • Bad Liar: When speaking to Sydney, he can't lie convincingly, stumbling over his words like a lust-addled schoolboy.
  • Big Bad: Technically. He's antagonistic and provides most of the film's conflict; he doesn't even care about what's right, he just wants to polish his reputation and feed his ego.
  • The Bully: His desperate insecurity leads him to torment and bully others, like his mild-mannered boss and people he has under his thumb.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's clearly a very effective and skilled agent, good at organizing complex operations, but he's very unstable and unpredictable, as well as apparently addicted to cocaine. These flaws are what allows Irving and Sydney to con him in the end.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: His eccentricities reach this level at times.
  • Drugs Are Bad: His coke habit slips out of control as the film progresses, turning him into a ranting, unstable megalomaniac.
  • Glory Hound: Gets called out on this by Irving at the end of the movie. Irving mentions that for all of his grandstanding and claims of moral superiority, Richie only ever targeted people such as Carmine who was not harming anyone because it was easy.
  • Hero Antagonist: He more or less functions as this to Irving and Sydney.
  • Hot-Blooded: Richie becomes increasingly unstable and impulsive as his ego inflates.
  • Jerkass: He's smarmy in his attempts to be charming toward Sydney, but he treats everyone else like shit including his own fiance.
  • Kick the Dog: Anytime he threatens or hurts poor Stoddard Thorsen.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Richie is prone to throwing tantrums that sometimes include violence when things don't go his way.

    Sydney Prosser / Lady Edith Greensly
"You're nothing to me until you're everything."
Played By: Amy Adams

Irving's con artist partner and girlfriend.

  • Absolute Cleavage: She frequently dons ridiculously sexy outfits split down the middle.
  • Break the Cutie: She has a very sunny and optimistic attitude when she and Irving are living the life. Over the course of the film, though, she's put through the emotional ringer.
  • Byronic Heroine: Has a rather Romanticized view towards the life of a con artist, and goes through intense internal conflicts throughout her arc—which she dramatizes in her "From the feet up, baby" speech to Irving.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: A mild case. Upon hearing that Irving is taking Rosalyn to dinner with Carmine instead of her, she calls Richie to make him jealous.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Poor girl starts off as a pole dancer, becomes a con artist with Irving...and is severely tempted to go for Richie when she feels betrayed at once by Irving and the life he represents.
    "I want to live.... All right?—for real."
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Despite being subjected to Break the Cutie a lot over the course of the film, she ends up with Irving and opens a legitimate gallery with him.
  • Evil Redhead: Not exactly evil, but she is a manipulative con artist of course.
  • Fauxreigner: Pretends to be called "Lady Edith Greensly" in her cons with Irving. Richie learns that she isn't an aristocrat but still believes her to be British until near the end.
  • Femme Fatale: And a highly sympathetic one, who at one point seems to hate having to seduce Richie.
  • Friend to All Children: In the end, she's seen happily hanging out with Rosalyn's son.
  • Heroic Seductress: Arguably, as all she really wants in the end is to ensure she and Irving can live comfortably and free from the mob's notice and the FBI's radar. And unlike most Femmes, she truly does love Irving and wants him to succeed with her.
  • Manipulative Bitch: She gets better, of course.

    Mayor Carmine Polito
Played By: Jeremy Renner

The Mayor of Camden, New Jersey.

  • The Ace: A effective mayor with a loving family, and a 100% approval rating amongst his constituents. Irving, who otherwise acts callous to all of his marks, becomes completely enamored with the guy.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Poor Carmine does do something illegal that's not even for his own benefit, but still gets targeted by the likes of DiMaso.
  • Corrupt Politician: Subverted, he's a good guy UNTIL the hustlers get to him and turn him unwittingly into this. Even then, he only does underhanded things to improve the lives of his constituency and never for personal gain.
  • Happily Married: To his beloved wife, and the only constantly Happily Married character in the film.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Double Subverted, tragically. When Carmine is first approached to get conned, he picks up on it and leaves the scene. His befriending Irving is what ultimately screws him over.
  • Nice Guy: A genuinely good-hearted man who loves his community and wants to improve it.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Arguably the nicest most moral character in the story. Naturally he's the one who gets his political career ruined and faced with jail time.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: He's such a good friend who's ready with the compliments that he ends up adding to Irving's feelings of guilt.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Carmine may be 'corrupt' but not in the self-serving sense. He's just doing everything he can to help the community he's sworn to serve.

    Rosalyn Rosenfeld
"Thank God for me."

Irving's wife.

  • Age Lift: The actual character was much older.
  • Alliterative Name: Rosalyn Rosenfeld.
  • Berserk Button: She doesn't react well when she finally sees Sydney in person.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Rosalyn may be dumb, but she actually has a natural talent for manipulating people and a VERY mean streak.
  • The Ditz: Rosalyn never thinks before doing. She thinks afterward, to rationalize her actions.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Throughout the film, Irving wants Rosalyn to be with somebody else, but he is always away doing cons, so she's stuck at home caring for Danny. When she finally falls for someone other than Irving, it's Pete Musane, a mob enforcer (albeit a sensible, level-headed mob enforcer who genuinely cares for her). When Irving points out that Pete is "the most dangerous guy ever", Rosalyn replies "Well, what do you expect, Irving? I know everyone through you."
  • Dumb Blonde: Bright blonde hair on her head, and not a functioning brain cell concerned with self-preservation inside.
  • The Fool: Blunders through what soon becomes an apocalyptically dangerous situation without a scratch, in what can only be described as divine (or diabolic) providence.
  • Manipulative Bitch: A completely unrepentant one, unlike Sydney.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Oh yes. Especially when she dresses up.
  • Never My Fault: Never. She will either refuse to accept blame, twist things around to make it look like someone else's fault or claim that there was a beneficial outcome that she intended.
  • Passive Aggressive Combat: Described as a master by Irving himself.
  • Pretty in Mink: One of her outfits.
  • Spanner in the Works: Whenever she shows up, things are about to get incrementally more complicated for someone. Probably several someones.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: Gives one to Sydney for whatever reason.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Whether it is causing housefires from defying common sense or blabbing to a man, whom she knows is a mobster, that her husband is involved with the Feds, it's a miracle she still lives.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: And Pete noticed.
  • Wild Card: It's never clear what she's going to do next. Rosalyn is basically a grenade thrown into a soup factory.

    Stoddard Thorsen 

Stoddard Thorsen

Played By: Louis C.K.

Richie's boss.

  • An Aesop: Subverted. He has an ice-fishing story with a moral lesson for DiMaso but ultimately withholds it.
  • Butt-Monkey: He has a horrible time, trying to handle a crazed DiMaso who gradually moves from insults to physical violence before worming his way out of any consequences.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Always tries to reign back Richie from his VERY dangerous stings. He ends up getting a telephone repeatedly rammed against his face. He gets back to him, though, epically.
  • The Dog Bites Back: When he informs DiMaso that he's off the case, following Richie's most epic fuck-up.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: As Richie's boss he's not very competent at controlling or handling most situations.

    Victor Tellegio 
Played By: Robert De Niro

A Mafia Overlord.

  • The Cameo: Only physically appears in one scene.
  • The Dreaded: He has a reputation for shooting people and leaving their dead bodies in the middle of the street, just to prove a point. You know this guy is bad news when Irving has an Oh, Crap! reaction just by hearing his name.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Wears a pair of glasses during the meeting with Irving and company.
  • Genius Bruiser: He's an enforcer, but also a savvy businessman who became fluent in Arabic.
  • Hidden Depths: The characters are very surprised when it turns out he can speak Arabic.
  • Karma Houdini: He never touched any of the money that was going to be used in the sting operation, so therefore, legally, he couldn't be touched. However, he knew Irving eventually turned the tables on Richie, and made it a point to have Pete tell Irving that he was aware that Irving helped him out, and 'appreciates it.'
  • Number Two: To Meyer Lansky, who never appears on screen but trusts Tellegio to carry out his business for him. Tellegio's scene shows he takes his role in protecting Lanksy's interests with care and precision and displays a great deal of autonomy.

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