List of Natural Born Killers characters
Mickey Knox is portrayed by Woody Harrelson.
As a child, Mickey was abused by both his parents and witnessed his father commit suicide when he was ten. Mickey is shown throughout the film as an efficient, psychopathic killer with zero empathy showcased for his victims, with knowledge of firearms and knife throwing. It is also shown that he knows how to kill with his bare hands such as the time in prison when he demonstrates killing a man by breaking his neck during a yoga session. Mickey is based on the infamous real-life spree killer known as Charles Starkweather and named after the actor of the same name who was known for being part of the Hollywood Blacklist. He is visually based on "V", the singer for the 1980s industrial band NBK.
Mallory Knox is portrayed by Juliette Lewis.
As a child, Mallory suffered physical, verbal, emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of her father (played by Rodney Dangerfield). Mallory devotes herself to Mickey, stating he is her one true love. Mallory often tells stories and fantasies about her and Mickey living in paradise, to which Mickey often responds, "That is poetry."
Of the two, Mallory seems to be the more aggressive, just like Knox — an uncontrolled psychopath with zero empathy for the people she kills; one example is when she and Mickey kill their last victim, Wayne Gale (Robert Downey, Jr.), and she continues shooting Gale repeatedly after he is dead. (However, she makes an exception for an old Native American man who takes them in for the night, as she gives Mickey a telling-off for killing him.)
Jack Scagnetti is portrayed by actor Tom Sizemore.
Scagnetti is a successful detective who is revealed to be a tragic villain when he describes how he witnessed his mother being killed by University of Texas at Austin sniper Charles Whitman when he was eight years old, assumingly making him from Austin, Texas, and making him 36 years old at the time of the plot. Obsessed with taking revenge against criminals, he became a police officer, and eventually a public hero for his actions against criminals.
Behind his heroic facade, he is a sadistic misogynist and borderline vigilante with nothing but disdain for the law he claims to uphold. He is also a murderer in his own right, having strangled a prostitute to death. Unlike the impression his media personality gives, Scagnetti is, just like Mickey and Mallory, a highly psychopathic individual with zero empathy or remorse for his crazed actions; the only difference is that his anger and sadism is focused towards criminals and not innocent people.
He reaches the height of his fame while pursuing Mickey and Mallory Knox. His pursuit of the Knoxes is covered extensively by tabloid reporter Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.) on his show American Maniacs. Scagnetti becomes particularly fixated on Mallory, and his frustrated sexual attraction to her further worsens his rage. He eventually captures them in a shootout outside a drug store and profits immensely from the ensuing media acclaim, even writing a non-fiction crime book entitled Scagnetti on Scagnetti.
A year later, Scagnetti visits Mallory in prison and attempts to seduce her, feeling sexual attraction to her which he cannot contain any longer. Mallory attacks him and breaks his nose, starting a fight and forcing the guards to intervene. Meanwhile, a riot has broken out in the prison cafeteria, and Mickey has escaped. During the chaos, Mickey finds his way to Mallory's cell in the solitary confinement unit, kills the guards and saves her from the hands of Scagnetti after she slits his throat. Eventually, Mallory fatally shoots Scagnetti in the head with his own Desert Eagle pistol, asking him, "Do you still like me now, Jack?"
Wayne Gale is portrayed by actor Robert Downey, Jr.
Gale is a Golden Globe Award-winning Australian journalist who claims to be a personal friend of Bill Clinton. Early in his career, Gale was a more respected and moral journalist who covered international stories such as the Invasion of Grenada. Eventually, he settled for hosting American Maniacs, a sensationalistic tabloid news show focusing on mass murderers. A vain, obnoxious, opportunistic narcissist, Gale has nothing but contempt for his audience ("Repetition works; Do you think the morons out there in zombie land actually remember anything?") and does his job only for perks such as fame and money.
Ratings for American Maniacs go through the roof when Gale focuses the show on Mickey and Mallory Knox. He turns the two killers into international celebrities, all the while becoming incredibly wealthy and raising his own celebrity profile. When they are caught by Jack Scagnetti, he helps turn the detective into a star, conveniently ignoring the fact that Scagnetti is completely corrupt and just as violent as the Knoxes for his own gain.
One year later, on Super Bowl Sunday, Gale interviews Mickey Knox on live television. During the interview, a riot breaks out in the prison cafeteria, forcing Gale to stop the broadcast. Mickey then grabs a shotgun from a guard, takes the crew as hostages and tells them to go save Mallory. During the riot, Gale uses the camera to transmit live what happens in the riot. He publicly claims that the riot has spiritually reawakened him, leaving his wife for his Asian-American mistress (who left him during the riot due to his erratic behavior), and helps Mickey and Mallory escape from the prison. All of his crew are killed in the ensuing riot from gunfire.
After Mallory is saved and they escape from prison, she and Mickey tell Gale that he is going to be their last victim (with his camera as a witness), both citing the fact that Gale is nothing more than a self-centered person who exploits for his own personal gain. Gale panics and tries to run, but eventually resigns himself to his impending death, and allows them to kill him.
The inspiration for Wayne was real-life reporter Steve Dunleavy, who like Wayne is also Australian, was the lead reporter for American tabloid television program A Current Affair during the 1980s and 1990s, and who controversially advocated for the release from prison of rapist and murderer Wayne DuMond, in a manner similar to Gale's fascination with Mickey and Mallory in the movie. Another inspiration was reporter Geraldo Rivera, whose prison interview with Charles Manson was an inspiration for much of the character's interaction with the murderers Mickey and Mallory Knox. However, it was after meeting Wayne Darwen that Robert Downey had a lock on the character.
Warden Dwight McClusky
Warden Dwight McClusky is portrayed by actor Tommy Lee Jones.
Dwight McClusky is the temperamental and foulmouthed prison warden who oversees the lockdown of Mickey and Mallory Knox in the film's third act. An unappealing character in a cheap brown suit with unusual personal grooming because of a pencil-thin mustache and a devil-like hairstyle, McClusky runs the prison in a domineering way, which often leads to his bouts of anger. McCluskey clearly loathes the criminals he oversees. His brutality is exemplified in one scene when an inmate lunges at another and McClusky quickly subdues the man by attaching a hemostat (pair of surgical pliers) to his nostrils and keeping the hemostat from being released with unwaxed dental floss,before sending him off with the guards.
When the prison is overrun by prisoners during a riot, McClusky orders all guards on duty to fend off the convicts. His attempt to subdue Mickey and Mallory is thwarted when they hold a prison guard hostage. Mickey and Mallory manage to escape and keep McClusky and other prison guards locked between two corridor entrance doors. While locked inside, hundreds of convicts come charging at McClusky and the prison guards when the desperate warden tries climbing up the bars, and is pulled away and disappears into a sea of angry prisoners. He is then beaten to death and beheaded by the prisoners.
Warren Red Cloud, Sr., also known as The Navajo Man, is portrayed by Russell Means. The name of the character is a possible reference to Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr., a Medal of Honor recipient from the Korean War, explaining the appearance of the Medal of Honor in the wooden hut.
The Navajo man is an elderly and reclusive Navajo Native American, whom resides with his pre-adolescent grandson in a wooden hut in the New Mexico desert. Mickey and Mallory encounter the Navajo man on his ranch while the two are lost in the desert. While the two are there, the Navajo man tries to expel the demons inside Mickey and Mallory's souls, before Mickey awakens in a fit of rage and fatally shoots the Navajo man with a .45 Colt Commander pistol. Mickey unintentionally murdered him, and regrets killing him and feels remorse for doing so, believing him to be his only victim worthy of life. Mallory tearfully tells Mickey off for killing the old man, and as she walks away from him, she is bitten by a rattlesnake. Mickey is also bitten in the process of rescuing Mallory from further bites.
Owen Traft is portrayed by Arliss Howard.
Owen is a mysterious prisoner and Mickey and Mallory's guardian angel/demon. He is first seen at the roadside café where Mickey and Mallory Knox perpetrate their first massacre seen in the film, although he fades away while the camera is focusing on him. He first encounters Mickey and Mallory during the prison riot, where he assists them by killing prison guards firing at Mickey and Mallory. He assists them in their escape, and treats Mickey and Mallory as if they were good friends of his. After Warden McClusky is seen being taken into a sea of angered prisoners, Owen is not seen or heard from again for the rest of the film (though in the alternate ending for the film he acts as a form of "Karma" killing both Mickey and Mallory after they mocked him).