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.
Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen
While Mobster Squad wasn’t all that great of a movie, Sean Penn did a great job portraying the mob boss Mickey Cohen. Although, Penn playing a dark, angry, and violent mobster isn’t too much of a stretch.
Robert De Niro as Sam "Ace" Rothstein
Put Robert De Niro and Martin Scorcese together, and you know you’re going to get something special. In Casino, De Niro played Sam “Ace” Rothstein, a character based on the gangster Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal. His performance is exactly what you’d expect, a tough guy boss, living large and ruling with an iron fist.
Tom Hardy as Forrest Bondurant
Tom Hardy’s another one of those versatile actors who can pull off pretty much any character he plays. In this case, in the movie Flawless, he plays Forrest Bondurant, a moonshine bootlegger in Prohibition Era America. Hardy easily fit into the skin of a larger than life personality who quickly became a local legend.
Ray Liotta as Henry Hill
In the movie Goodfellas, Ray Liotta played real-life mobster Henry Hill. Surprisingly, during production, Martin Scorcese didn’t want Liotta to meet Hill. However, after the movie, the two finally met, and the first thing Hill said to Liotta was, “Thanks for not making me look like a scumbag.”
Al Pacino as Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggiero
Of course, Al Pacino will always be known as Michael Corleone. However, his role in Donnie Brasco as the real mafia mob boss Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero is an under-rated masterpiece performance. Fuggedaboutit.