Real-life gangster movies pretty much write themselves. By taking the true story of a gangster and fitting it into a Hollywood box, studios have box office gold. From Goodfellas to The Departed, real-life gangster films know how to draw a crowd just by the intrigue that surrounds them. They’re tense, brutal, and fun to watch. But who has played some of the notorious criminals in history? Here are 25 Best Movie Portrayals Of Real Life Gangsters.
Laurence Fishburne as Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson
Speaking of Hoodlum, Laurence Fishburne shined as the mob boss Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson. A performance which would be an important precursor to his breakout role as Morpheus in The Matrix.
Cliff Curtis as Pablo Escobar
Trying to portray Pablo Escobar isn’t something to take lightly. He was one of the scariest and most notorious drug lords in history. However, Cliff Curtis in the film Blow, pulled it off in spades, not only looking like Escobar but portraying a casual yet intimidating figure.
Mark Wahlberg as Daniel Lugo
Mark Wahlberg pumped a lot of iron to get into shape to look like the gangster Daniel Lugo in Pain & Gain. Though Daniel Lugo was more of the brains and Wahlberg played him like dumb brute, he still managed the charming smile and personality that Lugo was said to have in order to pull off his schemes.
James Cagney as Martin Snyder
In Love Me or Leave Me, James Cagney played the mob boss Martin Snyder. The role and his amazing performance lead to him winning an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito
Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas, played by Joe Pesci, is based on the gangster Thomas DeSimone, also known as Tommy D.
Pesci’s brutal portrayal of the murderous gangster would propel him to winning best actor at the Academy Awards.