Con-Artists of Hollywood:
Movies do such a good job of making Con Artists look like heroes. Although scoffed at in real life. Hollywood has done a decent job at romanticizing some really good wicked Con Artist characters.
10. Lawrence Jamieson – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels gave us not just one but two accomplished Con Men – Freddy Benson (played by Steve Martin), and Lawrence Jamieson (Played by Michael Caine). But it is the latter that is the focus of our list since he is the more experienced of the two. Lawrence Jamieson managed to keep his status as a wealthy gentleman by swindling rich widows of their fortune and leeching off of them. Lawrence could have done a lot more with his talent but he settled for deceiving widows and that is exactly why he ended up at the bottom of our list. Maybe if he had tried to use his skills to outsmart better opponents, we could have had a true player in our midst.
9. Nicky Spurgeon – Focus
The art of the Con relies on two fundamental principles – Deception and Misdirection. Master these two techniques and you can outwit anyone, no matter how powerful or resourceful they are. Nicky Spurgeon has spent a lifetime trying to master the two disciplines and he has come closer than anybody ever could. In the movie Focus, Will Smith plays expert con artist Nicky Spurgeon, who takes an amateur under his wing by the name of Jess, played by Margot Robbie. As with any movie with two odd people in a heist, love soon fills the air and the expert and the amateur find it hard to keep their personal lives away from their professional lives. Nicky Spurgeon does manage to pull the heist off but it is the way in which he pulls it that will make you stand up and applaud at his genius.
8. Lord Blackwood – Sherlock Holmes
Lord Blackwood was an infamous British Nobleman who was jailed and banished because he was thought to have involvement in witchcraft and the occult. Blackwood returned and he returned with style. His return marked the beginning of the end for the Victorian Era London. Blackwood was essentially a charismatic leader who could incite a cult-like following with his skills at deception and illusion. He turned regular parlor trick and a tinge of science to swerve around the city and terrorize the most powerful empire of the time with his antics. He was so good at his job that he almost managed to deceive Sherlock Homes, the world’s greatest detective into believing in magic. Yeah, he was THAT good.
7. Tom Ripley – The Talented Mr. Ripley
Tom Ripley is actually a character created as part of a Novel series. Tom Ripley is a young man who makes his living as a Con Artist. Tom has had a rather tumultuous childhood. When he was just 5 years old, his parents passed away and he was orphaned. Now under the care of his unforgiving aunt Dottie, Tom was regularly abused and ended up growing bitter and cold. He moved to New York City the first chance he got and has never looked back ever since. Tom Ripley is a master at impersonation. He is so good at it that even the closest people of the person he impersonates cannot tell the difference. Tom is a method actor. He dives into the character he is making himself an impostor of to such an extent that he becomes that person entirely, completely forgetting for a moment that he is actually someone else in somebody else’s shoes.
6. Frank Abagnale – Catch Me If You Can
If you guys have not watched this movie yet, then shut the hell up and start watching it immediately. Catch Me If You Can is one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s finest works to date. DiCaprio plays the role of Frank Abagnale, a self-made Con Artist. Many do not know this but the events depicted in the movie are actually based on the adventures of the person of the same name. Frank Abagnale is the person who swindled millions of money out of legal authorities and private players all by himself. And he did it before he was even 19!! Frank Abagnale would impersonate a pilot, a doctor, a cashier, a bank teller, and many other professions before he is eventually caught and thrown in prison in France.
5. Dylan Rhodes – Now You See Me
The movie Now You See Me is all about how the simplest of tricks can deceive the smartest of people. Now You See Me was basically, at its core, a revenge story. A disgruntled son who saw his father’s life get destroyed by one man (played by Morgan Freeman) decides to make it his life mission to destroy him in return. What follows next is an elaborate ruse. Morgan Freeman’s character is called in to help the authorities nab four magicians turned thieves in a cat and mouse game. Little does anybody know that it was all Dylan’s ruse all along! He was the one who started it all and he is the one who is ultimately responsible for putting Freeman behind bars at the end of the movie (whoops!! Spoiler Alert)
4. Keyser Soze – The Usual Suspects
The Greatest Trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. That is the legendary line of one infamous person who goes by the name of Keyser Soze. The movie The Usual Suspects showed us the actual mastermind Kevin Spacey’s character is. All the time he was inside the police station, briefing them about a shadowy figure while in the end, it turns out that Kevin Spacey is the one he was talking about all along. The beauty of truth about Keyser Soze is that even the viewers remained confused as to whether to believe Kevin Spacey’s character was Keyser Soze for real or was it just another ruse. The character was based on a real-life criminal and murderer called John List, who was equally elusive and infamous.
3. Danny Ocean – Ocean’s Trilogy
Danny Ocean is the lead protagonist of the Ocean’s 11 movie and its subsequent sequels. Danny Ocean was mesmerized by the Las Vegas Casino culture. By the time Danny was 22, he had already been implicated in more than a dozen cases of fraud. He managed to convince the jury that he was not guilty of all those cases except one. Even though he got four years in prison, he managed to convince the parole board to leave him early and had his sentence reduced to just one because everybody was misled by Danny into believing that he had rehabilitated himself. Danny Ocean is one of the greatest con artists and shot pullers of his era, even hailed by the greatest cat burglar in the ocean’s Universe to be his rightful successor. Danny Ocean is known for his elaborate plans that have contingencies over contingencies.
2. Captain Jack Sparrow – Pirates of the Caribbean Series
How could we not have a list of the greatest Hollywood Con Artists and not mention Captain Jack Sparrow of the Black Pearl? Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow is a critically acclaimed character who has been around the world, making enemies wherever he went. Jack Sparrow is a conniving jackal at heart. He somehow always finds a workaround, legally and ethically, or otherwise. Nobody is still sure that Captain Jack Sparrow plans it all along or just makes it up along the way. His con skills are so apt that he has deceived Davy Jones, Captain of the Flying Dutchman, and even out-witted the huge British Navy using just his smarts.
1. The Joker – The Dark Knight
You did not see this coming. Did you now!! The Joker from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is basically a Con Artist with legendary acumen or death and violence. He managed to stay ahead of the game at all times and making all his enemies dance to his tunes in an epic game of chess. The Joker not only deceived the City authorities but also brought down high-end players of the Mafia as well as Batman himself. If you have seen the very first bank robbery scene of The Dark Knight, where he makes his own team members kill them-selves, you will know what I mean. Nobody is greater at deception than the Joker. Period!