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Characters / The Usual Suspects

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Michael McManus (Stephen Baldwin)

Top notch entry man. Crazy, though.

  • Alliterative Name: Michael McManus.
  • Angrish: Feigns it when it's his turn to say his line in the lineup scene.
  • Back Stab: Killed with a knife to the back of his neck.
  • Beard of Evil: An amoral criminal with a dark, scraggly beard on the lower half of his face.
  • *Click* Hello: When he ambushes Kobayashi in the elevator and kills his guards.
    McManus: Don't move. Press 20, do it now.
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  • Cold Sniper: During the opening phases of the shootout at the dock.
  • Cool Shades: During the second job in the parking garage and when the gang goes after Kobayashi.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric. The most leader oriented member of the the group.
  • Guns Akimbo: During the jewel heist, he aims two pistols and gets kill shots on two different targets who are both grappling with his accomplices. Notably, he hesitates for several seconds trying to line up both shots and the others look at him incredulously.
  • 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.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Manages to hit two targets with Guns Akimbo as they struggle with Hockney and Fenster and manages to thread it between the struggling men.
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  • Informed Attribute: Verbal tells everyone that McManus is "crazy", but the only time McManus acts even a little weird is after Fenster dies. Verbal may be exaggerating McManus' temper or eccentricities.
  • 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.
  • Large Ham: Deliberately in his turn in the lineup scene, complete with hand motions, wild-eyed expressions and head lolling.
    McManus: (with finger gun) Gimme your fuckin' keys, you fuckin' cocksucker motherfucker-aaaaaahhhhh (McManus starts wagging his head in all directions, his tongue lolling around)
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • Detective Patsy: Played with. He was picked partly to draw attention from LE and recruited to vouch for Kint. He was Kint's ultimate sucker no matter what interpretation you have of the film; even if you believe 95% is lies told by Kint.
  • 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.
  • Guns Akimbo: He uses two pistols during the shoot-out on the boat.
  • 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.
  • Informed Attribute: Kujan states Keaton is a "cold-blooded bastard", informing Verbal of the ex-cop's murderous past. However in the movie, Keaton is reluctant in killing a jeweler, and cares for Verbal and Edie.
  • 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.
  • One Last Job: He claims robbing the New York Taxi Service was this. No-one believes him; and Verbal says it only took a day of badgering from McManus to convince him to take on another job.
  • 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.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: He claims that he is really in love with Edie and was trying to set himself up as a legitimate restaurateur. However, when the police bring him in for the line-up right at the beginning of the movie, arresting him at dinner with his potential investors, he realizes that his investors are going to back out of doing business with an ex-con, and he will never be able to set up a legal business. So, since the police will never let him put his past behind him, he might as well embrace it.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: More pragmatic than moral. 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.
  • The Unintelligible: Benicio del Toro thought the character was too boring on the page and came up with a bizarre accent (Chinese and Hispanic, by his account) to spice things up. He drew inspiration from Mumbles in the Dick Tracy film. Bryan Singer told the other actors to make him repeat himself if they ever couldn't understand him. This happens a few times in the film. Word of God says that he did this because he was supposed to be the token Red Shirt of the movie. He wanted his character to stand out more.
  • 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?
  • Dressing as the Enemy: He twice fools the Hungarian mooks, taking advantage of the fact that they don't know all the Argentinians; the first time by casually waving his submachine gun, the second time by shouting in Spanish.
  • 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.
  • Gangsta Style: In the standoff with Redfoot's men.
  • 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."
  • The Napoleon: Hockney's the shortest of the group at 5'5" and the most aggressive.
  • Posthumous Character: Like the others (except Verbal).
  • The Reveal: Halfway through the film, it turns out that Hockney hijacked the truck containing gun parts that the suspects were brought in for.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: He swears a lot.

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.
  • Actually, I Am Him: Possibly the most famous example in film history, if not pop culture in general.
  • Badass Boast: “Well I believe in God, and the only thing I fear... is Keyser Söze”.
  • 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.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: While a criminal, Verbal comes across as a fairly, mild-mannered and ultimately harmless person. In reality, he is Keyzer Söze.
  • 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!
  • Deadpan Snarker: An inevitable side effect of being played by Kevin Spacey.
  • 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.
  • Ironic Nickname: "Verbal" Kint is chatty in the interrogation, but in the flashbacks he's very reticent. He doesn't utter a word before introducing himself, saying, "People say I talk too much." Hockney quips, "Yeah, I was just about to tell you to shut up."
  • Kubrick Stare: He gives one to the (offscreen) interrogators when he reads his line.
  • 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.
  • Non-Action Guy: Not that he's averse to using guns but Verbal's disability means he's unable to be as physical as the other guys. At least this what he appears to be.
  • Obfuscating Disability: His limp and crippled arm is just an act to make him seem more harmless; in the film's final scene, both disappears in a single stride.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: He pretends to be a weak-willed and crippled sap who was taken advantage of by Dean Keaton, rather than the diabolical crimelord he is.
  • 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.
  • Ridiculously Average Guy: He's an average, unassuming guy who you'd almost forget about if you were in a room with. He's also the main villain 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."
  • Scheherezade Gambit: He uses his tale-spinning talent to outwit his captors and not only to gain time: He continually changes his story until he finds the correct one to convince Kujan of his In-Universe Confirmation Bias so he would release Verbal
  • Seamless Spontaneous Lie: His entire story.
  • Self-Proclaimed Liar: He's not only an admitted con artist, but there are several scenes where he will say something Kujan doubts, admit to lying, and then revise his story.
  • The Smart Guy: Being a con man, relies more on brains than the others, who are mostly hijackers. Redfoot lampshades this when he calls Verbal "the man with the plan".
  • 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.
  • Walking Spoiler: As you've probably figured from all the white spaces, it's difficult to talk about Verbal without giving away the ending.

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.
  • Bad Boss: His minions are disposable.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: He successfully manages to escape the police as Verbal by making up almost the whole story of what happened.
  • Barbarian Longhair: In flashbacks, he's got long flowing hair all the way down his back.
  • Big Bad: The one behind everything in the film.
  • Calling Card: Two Gangsta Style gunshots to the head. This is how he kills Keaton, Arturro, and Edie. The killing of Saul Berg foreshadows The Reveal.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Most of his dialogue is describing what a terrifying, unstoppable monster he is.
  • 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.
  • The Dreaded: He's a legend among criminals. Most of them fear him, some doubt his existence, but everyone has heard his story.
  • Fake Nationality: invokedKevin Spacey is not Hungarian or German like Keyser Söze.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: He went from being a small-time dope dealer to a legend of the criminal underworld.
  • 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.
  • Master Actor: He fools everybody as the timid, easily manipulated Verbal Kint, affecting a limp, a twisted foot, and a partially paralyzed arm, all of which disappear when he finally drops the act at the very end. And he's apparently been playing this character for years.
  • 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.
  • Offing the Offspring: He murdered his wife and children.
  • One-Man Army: He's described as having murdered dozens of people in revenge for his family, presumably single-handed.
  • Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: Averted, because the police had absolutely no idea...
  • Papa Wolf: Subverted. He has a beautiful wife, three adoring children, and he's big and hairy and aggressive- then his family is taken hostage. He killed his wife and both surviving kids himself rather than allow his enemies to do it. That way, he explains to the surviving enemy mook, they won't have to live with the humiliation.
  • Satanic Archetype: Is believed by many to be the Devil himself.
  • 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.
  • The Spook: Nothing solid is known about Soze, not even what he looks like. That is, until the end.
  • 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.
  • Urban Legends: He himself is one.
    "He becomes a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night. 'Rat on your pop, and Keyser Söze will get you.' And no one ever really believes."
  • 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.
  • Too Clever by Half: He condescendingly tells Verbal Kint, the prisoner he is interrogating, that Kujan is smarter than him, that Verbal is stupid, a cripple, weaker than the criminals he associated with, and that Verbal will not be free until he will tell Kujan exactly wants he wants to know. Cue Break the Haughty at the Twist Ending.

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.
  • Karma Houdini: Gets away with everything he does in the film.
  • 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 Sociopath: Just listen to him giving out casual threats as if it's a normal day, particularly when he threatens to castrate McManus' nephew.
  • 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 only 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.

Edie Finneran (Suzy Amis)


Example of: