Follow TV Tropes


Characters / The Professional

Go To

Characters found in The Professional.

    open/close all folders 

    Leone "Léon" Montana
Played by: Jean Reno

A mysterious assassin living alone. He ends up 'adopting' his young next-door neighbor after her family is murdered.

  • Action Dad: He becomes a surrogate father to the orphaned Mathilda and protects her on her quest for vengeance, taking on the entire NYPD in the process.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: It's strongly implied Léon is on the autism spectrum. He has odd, fractured speech patterns, phenomenal skill in one specific area (killing people), astounding social ineptitude (to the point he's barely able to hold a conversation with anyone) as well as some child-like traits (he doesn't curse, for instance).
  • Anti-Hero: He's a decent enough guy. But he still makes a living by killing people.
  • Badass and Child Duo: He's the badass of said duo between him and Mathilda.
  • Badass Longcoat: Covering an even more badass rig for his pistols, silencer, spare magazines, grenades and bolt cutters.
  • Badass Mustache: Léon has a goatee-stache combo that suits his rugged outlook.
  • Bested by the Inexperienced: Formidable badass Leon is killed when Stansfield cowardly shoots him in the back of the head.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: He's already mortally wounded but succeeds in pulling a Taking You with Me on Stansfield.
  • Book Dumb: He Never Learned to Read, and Mathilda decides to teach him how to.
  • Briefcase Blaster: Carries a briefcase around which contains his twin pistols. In the one scene he teaches Mathilda how to shoot a rifle, he carries it inside a briefcase.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: You might think this milk-drinking Manchild with the social skills of a brick wouldn't be a very effective hitman. You'd be literally dead wrong.
  • Celibate Hero: Has not had a girlfriend since his last one died in the old country.
  • Chekhov's Skill: He's seen doing crunches/sit-ups in early scenes of the film, and he tries to teach Mathilda how to do them while training her. These exercises allow him to hang from the ceiling unseen and ambush Stansfeld's men during the climatic showdown.
  • Companion Cube: His plant, who he calls his best friend. He actually cares enough about it, that he makes sure Mathilda takes it with her while Stansfield's forces are raiding their apartment building.
  • Consummate Professional: Proficient with everything from his bare hands to explosives, doesn't drink alcohol, doesn't leave witnesses or evidence, lives off the grid, doesn't form emotional attachments and, aside from occasional trips to the cinema and tending to his plant, seems to have no life at all outside of professional killing.
  • Cool Shades: He almost always wears his signature round sunglasses. They're the very first thing you see of his character. Mathilda snags them (and his knit cap) when she goes to commit an assassination of her own, apparently in hopes of channeling some of his badassitude.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Léon's clad in black and tends to move in the darkness, but he's not a bad guy.
  • Deadly Euphemism: He doesn't kill people. He "cleans".
  • Defiant to the End: As he lays dying:
    Léon: Stansfield?
    Stansfield: At your service.
    Léon: (handing him something) This is from... Mathilda.
    Stansfield: (sees that it's a pin for a grenade) Shit.
  • Determinator: Léon is absolutely implacable when he gets his mind on something. Even in the end, he gets shot several times and nearly blown up, but manages to escape SWAT by sheer determination. If it weren't for Stansfield, he would have come out unscathed.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: Léon came to be when Luc Besson noticed Jean Reno's character in Nikita, Victor the Cleaner (also a Consummate Professional implacable hitman), was kind of wasted as a One-Scene Wonderinvoked, and so decided to make a movie centered around an Expy of him, played by the same actor. But along the project León and Victor ended up diverging, so while they're both extremely skilled hitmen, Victor is a lot more mature and cold while León is more child-like and humane. Besson describes Léon as "Victor's more humane and principled American cousin".
  • Dressing as the Enemy: He wears the uniform of an ESU officer killed during the raid on his apartment in order to escape through the cordon of police.
  • Drink Order: He drinks nothing but milk, and is often shown going to the local store to buy more. It's part of his portrayal as a curiously innocent and childlike assassin. Part of Mathilda's training involves drinking lots of milk, which she does not care for.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Léon's death scene counts — especially since he takes Stansfield with him.
    "This is... from Mathilda..." (BANG!)
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first scenes show him as a badass hitman with almost supernatural skills due to years of training. He spends the rest of his day as mundanely as possible—going to the store, watering his plants and cleaning his guns.
  • Expy: Of Victor from Nikita. Same actor, and they even share an euphemism for their job, "cleaner". Luc Besson has said that they're basically cousins. (In Victor's case it's not a euphemism: his job is cleaning up after killers, not killing like Léon.)
  • Famous Last Words: "This is from Mathilda".
  • Genius Bruiser: His expertise at killing people isn't just due excellent marksmanship, he's also a brilliant tactician able to outwit trained officers of the law in a gunfight.
  • Guns Akimbo: Not usually, but in the final battle he goes to the shoot-out with twin pistols.
  • Hitman with a Heart: He has an aura of childish wholesomeness to him. He lives a simple life, takes care of a pet plant, only drinks milk, and watches classic films with childish wonder. When called upon to do an act of good, he ultimately rises to it.
  • Iconic Outfit: His get-up while doing his "cleaning" (black trenchcoat, round beanie, round shades) is very iconic to the character. Markedly, it's in every cover ever made for the movie.
  • Idiot Savant: No social skills and he doesn't even know how to read, but you won't find a man more apt at mowing down enemies with extreme prejudice. A lot of the movie centers on contrasting his ineptitude with normal life to his aptness at his hitman job.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Before meeting Mathilda.
  • Love Redeems: His paternal love for Mathilda opens a pathway to his redemption.
  • Married to the Job: León has no personal life outside of his hits.
  • Meaningful Name: He's called "the Italian Lion" in the underworld, referring to his name. Lions are considered strong, majestic creatures, indicating Leon's essentially good, protective nature in spite of his capacity for violence.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: He gets kicked out of his hotel after Mathilda tells the clerk that the two of them are lovers.
  • Mook Horror Show: Every action scene will have at least one moment where see the perspective of the horrified Mooks as León dispatches them with terrifying accuracy.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: He has very simple rules about his clients: "No women, no kids, that's the rules."
  • Noble Demon: He's a professional assassin but he never takes jobs that involve killing women or children. He also takes in Mathilda when her family's being murdered by corrupt cops and treats her with more love and kindness than her real father ever did.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: León is supposed to be from Italy but he still speaks with Jean Reno's thick French accent.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Saving Mathilda is what eventually gets him killed... but he was never happier.
  • No Social Skills: León has absolutely zero social skills. He isn't even able to talk basic small-talk with a hotel conscierge.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: As a general rule of thumb in the movie: If you don't see León, he's probably right behind you.
  • One-Man Army: He wreaks havoc on a whole gang just to deliver a message to their chief, or on a whole SWAT team to protect Mathilda.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: He gets shot in the shoulder by an assault rifle while hanging upside down. After dropping one of his guns and grimacing, he shoots the ESU officer and manages to pull himself back up above the door.
  • Papa Wolf: He becomes a Parental Substitute to Mathilda, taking her in after the death of her family, mentoring her in assassination and protecting her from Stansfield. He starts assassinating the men who killed her family, and in the final showdown with Stansfield's cops, he goes One-Man Army to ensure she survives. He even spends his last seconds of life ensuring that the man who killed her family and went after her, dies alongside him.
  • Pet the Dog: The first true indicator that he's a good guy is when he performs a little puppet show with a pig-faced oven mitt to cheer up Matilda.
  • Professional Killer: He makes his living by taking assassination jobs from a local mafioso. Leon actually doesn't seem to have a life outside his work, only seeing the occasional movie in between taking jobs and training.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: He's a merciless assassin while on the clock. On his own time, he's almost childishly innocent.
  • Retirony: As he ensures Mathilda escapes from the cops trying to kill them, he promises her that he'll meet up with her and they'll move somewhere together and put down roots. Minutes later, just when it looks like he'll escape, he's killed by Stansfield shooting him in the back. He at least uses his last moments to ensure Stansfield goes down with him.
  • Selective Slaughter: He has a strict "no women, no kids" rule when carrying out his jobs. This is part of the reason he helps Mathilda seek revenge against the drug dealers; they slaughtered her whole family, including her little brother.
  • Self-Surgery: He returns to his apartment and is seen patching himself up in the shower, showing that he had been injured carrying out one of his hits.
  • Stealth Expert: His method of killing people relies on maneuvering around them like a shadow. One of Stansfield's men lampshades this commenting "This guy is like a ghost".
  • Taking You with Me: As Stansfield looks down at the mortally wounded Leon, smirking, Leon hands him something... it turns out to be a grenade pin.
  • The Teetotaler: He usually opts for milk instead. However, he does have one glass of champagne to celebrate his apprentice's first hit.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: He drinks nothing but milk, which emphasizes his wholesome and childlike personality in spite of killing people.
  • Weapon of Choice: He uses customized Beretta 92FSs.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl/Would Not Hurt A Child: His rule in accepting targets, "No women, no kids."

Played by: Natalie Portman

An intelligent and tough young girl who becomes Léon's protégée following the death of her family.

  • Abusive Parents: She's first seen sporting a bruise she got from her father, who regularly hits her. Her stepmother doesn't treat her right either.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Most of her outfits bare her midriff.
  • Bodyguard Crush: She has one of these on Léon—in the uncut version, she even asks him to be her first lover, but he refuses.
  • Broken Bird: An orphan with an abusive childhood whose family was wiped out. She's not in a very good place mentally.
  • Children Are Innocent: Mathilda curses a lot, smokes and has a disturbingly sexual mind for someone as young as she is, but despite all this outward appearance, she is just a innocent kid, specially when compared to Léon and Stansfield.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: On top of all her problems, she's also entering puberty. The movie's as much about Mathilda finding her own place in the world as is about León.
  • Creepy Child: She's a nice girl, but León's admittedly disturbed when she starts to play russian roulette.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Mathilda doesn't give a damn about the rest of her family — but the bastards who killed her little brother must die.
  • Fille Fatale: She tries seducing Léon several times. Léon is deeply disturbed.
  • Foil: Mathilda contrasts León in that she's a very adult-like child while León is a very child-like adult, and while Mathilda has the thirst for violence despite never having killed anyone, León is a lot more deadset against violence (despite being a hitman, meaning violence is his dayjob).
  • Hot For Teacher: Develops a crush on Leon.
  • Jumped at the Call: She shows particular zeal for avenging her innocent brother.
  • Knight Templar Big Sister: She couldn't care less about the deaths of her parents and older sister, but she's determined to become an assassin to avenge her four-year-old brother, the only member of her family she loved.
  • Leitmotif: The soundtrack has a tune called "A Ballad for Mathilda", which is quite gentle and sweet, signifying Mathilda's innocence, but with some darker beats towards the end to hint the darkness in her soul.
  • Little Miss Badass: She's very handy with a handgun for a girl, and she demonstrates some excellent on-her-feet thinking.
  • Morality Pet: For León. She manages to awaken the goodness in him during their time together.
  • Precocious Crush: She has a crush on Léon, an adult. The international version makes it much less precocious, with her actually propositioning him for sex.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Subverted. She's trained with Leon. By chance, she learns of where the people she wants her revenge on work. She arms herself, sneaks in successfully, hunts down Stansfield in the bathroom, and is promptly caught and very nearly shot dead by the same.
  • Serendipitous Survival: She's out getting groceries while her family is being killed by corrupt cops. She comes back, acts nonchalant, and hooks up with Leon for safety, and then revenge.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: She usually dresses in Bare Your Midriff outfits, but she changes into a beautiful pink dress after Leon rescues her from the middle of DEA Headquarters. Then she starts talking about the importance of losing your virginity with someone you love, giving Leon a serious Oh, Crap! moment.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: She's only sad about her four-year-old brother's death, not about the deaths of her abusive father, stepmother and half-sister. She expresses a desire to become a professional assassin to avenge him, fires a gun wildly out of a window to convince Leon to teach her how to kill, expresses a desire to use real bullets during a mock assassination session, and at one point freaks out the manager of an apartment she and Leon are staying at by lying that Leon's her lover instead of her father.
  • Wise Beyond Her Years: Mathilda's surprisingly philosophical at times.

    Norman Stansfield
Played by: Gary Oldman

A corrupt DEA agent on drugs who slaughters Mathilda's family.

  • Ax-Crazy: Stansfield is a dangerously unstable individual. He treats murdering an entire family like a fun game, shoots at an old woman for not going back into her apartment, seems to take immense pleasure in the thought of murdering a twelve-year-old girl, and unnerves his lackeys by waving guns around them without any care for their safety. The drugs he uses have clearly taken a toll on his sanity.
  • Big Bad: He murdered Mathilda's family at the start of the film and seeking revenge on him is what drove her to join Leon.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's rather eccentric, to say the least: he discusses classical music during hits, is careless about where he points his gun, and frequently switches from absolute calm to screaming rage and back.
  • Cowboy Cop: A rare villainous example.
  • Creepy Monotone: Stansfield's voice zig-zags between a calm monotone and screaming fury. Both are equally creepy.
  • Dirty Cop: They don't make 'em much dirtier than this. Is involved in drug running (and apparently likes to sample the product) and will kill just about anyone who gets in his way.
  • Dissonant Serenity: When he's killing Matilda's family while cheerfully humming along to the classical music in his headphones.
  • Establishing Character Moment: He gets two establishing moments: he's introduced standing in the background, listening to classical music on his headphones and completely disconnected from the rest of the world. Then, when his second-in-command informs him of a problem (a drug holder apparently cut some of the dope he was supposed to be keeping safe), he removes the headphones, and sniffs the holder for a few seconds, before declaring him innocent. Stansfield's next scene shows him leading a gang of thugs towards the holder's apartment: he takes a moment to down a pill and muse on how much he likes "these calm little moments before the storm," before charging into the apartment with a shotgun, killing the holder's wife, the holder's teenage daughter, then finally cornering the holder himself... so he can chat about classical music while the rest of his gang search the apartment for drugs.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Stansfield is very over-the-top and very evil.
  • Famous Last Words: "Shit..."
  • Faux Affably Evil: He can act charming at times, such as when talking with Mathilda or her father, but through it all it's clear he's a psychopathic maniac who's a second away from violently murdering anyone who makes him mad. At one point, after murdering Mathilda's stepmother and half-sister, he talks casually with Mathilda's horrified father, gushing about his music tastes.
  • Foil: To Leon, who's his opposite in nearly every way. Leon's a Consummate Professional while Stansfield is Ax-Crazy and has a Hair-Trigger Temper. Leon tries to act cold and aloof while being a much better person than he lets on, Stansfield can appear charming but is really a raging maniac. Leon is Straight Edge Evil who doesn't use drink, smoke or using foul-language, while Stansfield is a drug addict who swears all the time. Both men exhibit almost childlike qualities, but while Leon treats a potted plant like his best friend and takes childlike joy in musical movies, Stansfield's idea of fun and games is hunting down and murdering a family for fun.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Reacts to an old woman asking him what he's doing by shooting at her. This is pretty much par for the course for Stansfield.
  • Hand Cannon: He carries a customized Smith & Wesson Model 629 "Classic Hunter" chambered in .44 Magnum. The 629 was a fairly common weapon that had several normal production runs; what Stansfield carries was a one-off customization of one of the rare, limited production run models. The "Classic Hunter" isn't small to begin with, and the unfluted cylinder, shortened barrel, and muzzle crown make the thing look even bigger.
  • Hollywood Personality Disorders: He has Antisocial Personality Disorder. Antisocial, lacks empathy and murders without a shred of remorse.
  • Jerkass: His own men could hardly stand working alongside him.
  • Killer Cop: He's a psychotic DEA agent who uses the law to threaten, extort, and kill whoever he wants. On a drug bust early in the film, Stansfield goes on a drug rush and along with his men, murders Matilda's family, including their baby brother, only caring about how he'll explain their deaths to his superiors. When Matilda confronts him later on, Stansfield plans to kill her—implying that he'll enjoy doing it—before he's stopped by the news of the death of one of his subordinates. He later leads a raid on Leon's apartment to try to kill both him and Matilda and shoots Leon In the Back as the latter tries to escape.
  • Knight Templar: He becomes this in his quest to hunt Léon down.
  • Kubrick Stare: He's fond of these. He gives a particularly menacing one just before leaving Mathilda's apartment at the start of the movie.
  • Lack of Empathy: If he had any he wouldn't be able to live with what he does.
  • Large Ham: Oldman delivers a wonderfully over-the-top performance, to the point where some people consider him to stray into Narm territory at points.
  • Laughably Evil: While he's a ruthless and psychotic corrupt cop who is not above murdering children, it's hard to not laugh at some (if not all) of his deranged outbursts.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: As a contrast to León's meticulous stealthiness, Stansfield just charges in guns blazing during the massacre at Mathilda's house, much to the displeasure of Only Sane Man Malky.
  • Light Is Not Good: Wears light clothes and is the worst person in the film.
  • Limited Wardrobe: He's never seen wearing anything besides his trademark beige suit and white shirt.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: During the raid on Mathilda's home, Mathilda's father manages to shoot him in the shoulder. Stansfield is pretty subdued about this until he has the time to notice the damage done to his suit, whereupon he follows the injured suspect through the apartment, shooting him in the back. He does this until he's out of ammunition... and then starts to reload so he can continue shooting the guy's corpse.
  • Naughty Narcs: He's a crazed DEA agent who takes advantage of his position to have a foot in the drug running business.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: When he gets clipped in the shoulder, he seems more upset about the damage to his suit.
  • Perma-Stubble: He has one. Matches his evil look.
  • Profane Last Words: His last word is "Shit."
  • Rabid Cop: One of the worst in Western cinema. Makes Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant look like Corporal Carrot.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: He's pretty careless about where he points his gun, especially for a cop. Given that one of his police colleagues calls attention to this when he inadvertently points the gun at him, it's clearly meant to show that he just doesn't care. Plus he's constantly shown to swallow huge amounts of drugs.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Even the last thing he ever says is, "Shit".
  • The Sociopath: He's a low-functioning kind despite, somehow, being a DEA agent. He has a Hair-Trigger Temper, poor impulse control, can appear superficially charming but can't maintain it, and shows no concern or empathy for human life whatsoever.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: While discussing the beauty of Beethoven, he has a "creative" way of discussing the composer's shortcomings.
    Stansfield: So powerful... But after his openings, to be honest, he does tend to get a little fucking boring.
  • Straw Nihilist: Seems to be. While he doesn't care about other people's lives (like most sociopaths do), he also doesn't seems to care about his own. During the slaughter of Mathilda's family, he is wandering around in his men's field of fire without any hesitation or precaution. Although it could be because of the drugs, in his last scene, he hasn't taken any drugs and still doesn't seems to care when he discovers that he's about to die. No fear, no anger, no surprise on his face, just mere disappointment.
    Stansfield: Shit...
  • Unorthodox Reload: When he's reloading his revolver, he snaps the cylinder into place with a flick of his arm.
  • Villainous Breakdown: As Leon proves himself harder and harder to kill, Stansfield gets more and more unhinged, to the point where he demands one of his lackeys to bring EEVVVERRYYYYONNNEEEE!!! to kill them.
  • Weapon of Choice: He carries a snub-nose Smith & Wesson model 629.
  • Wicked Cultured: He is a fan of both Mozart and Beethoven, especially Beethoven. Brahms too.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Very nearly kills Mathilda - and implies that he'll enjoy doing it - before being stopped at the last minute by news of the death of one of his subordinates.

Played by: Peter Appel

Stansfield's right hand man and Dragon.

  • The Dragon: To Stansfield. Somewhat uncharacteristic to what this position normally entails, he's often forced to take charge and babysit his boss when Stansfield is too far gone on drugs or engrossed in murder. Or both.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Yells at Willie Blood (one of the cops in Stansfield's unit) after he kills Mathilda's brother.
  • Famous Last Words: "Easy man, I'm a cop."
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: He's clearly the brains of his partnership with Stansfield, which is why Stansfield goes off the rails after Malky is killed midway through the film.
  • Only Sane Man: He's this to Stansfield and his gang of corrupt DEA cops who seem mostly incompetent or dumb. This is the most prevalent during the raid on Mathilda's family where Malky seems the only one to keep a cool head after the fact (trying to calm Stansfield, and angrily yelling at Benny for almost shooting at him and then at Willi for killing Mathilda's brother).
  • Sacrificial Lion: The first of Stansfield's unit to die.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Is openly frustrated and angry at almost everyone after the family raid for various reasons.

Played by: Danny Aiello

A mafioso who provides Leon with his work.

  • Affably Evil: He's always polite to Leon, acting as an almost paternal figure to him. After Leon's death, he honors his request to bequeath all his money to Mathilda, and gets her to try to go back to a normal life rather than be a cleaner like Leon.
  • Catchphrase: "Nobody knocks off old Tony", which doubles as a Badass Boast.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He's briefly seen celebrating a birthday party with what's presumed to be his wife and children.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He's outraged at the idea of hiring a twelve-year-old girl to act as a killer.
  • The Handler: Effectively what he is with León. Tony gives him his targets, the info on said targets, his equipment, and takes care of his payment.
  • The Mafia: Tony's a member of an unspecified New York family and assigns Leon his contract killings.
  • Noble Demon: He appears to share León's "no women, no kids" creed (and may in fact have originated it), and is in general a pretty decent guy, criminal business aside.
  • Parental Substitute: As he takes care of León in every way and serves as an older voice of guidance, his relationship with him has echoes of this. The international cut reveals he's been taking care of León since he was 19.
  • Stealing from the Till: It's hinted that an inversion is in play; judging from Tony's cagey surprise when Leon brings up the money that Tony has been "taking care of" for him (coupled with the fact that Tony, let's face it, a bit of a shady character), it's implied that Tony has at the very least been dipping into Leon's savings under the assumption that Leon doesn't care about it and isn't keeping track.
  • Villainous Friendship: Leon's a Professional Killer and Tony's a mafioso, but he seems to be the only actual friend Leon has outside of work. He gives Leon almost paternal advice, looks out for his well-being, holds on to his money for him, and genuinely mourns him following his death. He even honors Leon's request to leave all his money to Mathilda.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: