Tommy Vercetti

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Tommy Vercetti
Grand Theft Auto character
A computer generated image of a brown haired man. He wears a blue shirt with dark blue trees as the design, blue jeans and white sneakers.
Tommy Vercetti, as seen in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Tommy is the first playable protagonist in the Grand Theft Auto series that has a proper voice actor, with full dialogue.
First game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)
Created by Rockstar Games
Voiced by Ray Liotta[1]
Motion capture Jonathan Sale[2]

Thomas "Tommy" Vercetti is a fictional character, the protagonist and playable character in the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, a game in the Grand Theft Auto series. He is voiced by Ray Liotta.[3]

After being released from prison, Tommy agrees to take part in a deal for an old friend, in which he was ambushed. In an attempt to find the man who set up the ambush, Tommy rises through the ranks of the Vice City crime underworld. After murdering the man who set up the ambush, he becomes extremely powerful in the criminal world, and eventually becomes the kingpin of Vice City.

Character design[edit]

A piece of concept art featuring Tommy, sporting a similar hairstyle to that of his in-game appearance.

Tommy, an Italian-American, is portrayed with a tall, swarthy, handsome appearance, combed dark brown, almost black hair, and a constant five o'clock shadow. He first appears wearing a light blue-green Hawaiian shirt with dark blue palm trees printed on it, a gold pearl necklace around his neck, a gold watch around his left wrist, and a pair of blue jeans and white sneakers. This outfit becomes known as Tommy’s "street" clothes. As the game progresses, Tommy is offered more wardrobe options: he obtains a blue-purple pastel suit with the sleeves rolled up over a black dress shirt and black loafers, as well as the option of a dark pinstripe suit labeled as "Mr. Vercetti" (which bears similarities to Tony Montana's uniform). A light green costume is available to perform a bank robbery, complete with a hockey mask, and is even able to wear the uniform for an allied gang, among many others.

Tommy Vercetti, in several ways, exhibits characteristics of fictional drug lord Tony Montana from the 1983 film Scarface. This coincides with the heavy themes and appearance of the movie that has been implemented into Vice City. Among these characteristics, his exile from his old home (Liberty City), his rise to power (acquiring property and wealth in the city, and a mansion which also sports an interior similar to that of Montana’s mansion). Tommy is also a hired assassin, has killed his own collaborators (Lance Vance), taken over his temporary boss’s business (Ricardo Diaz) and rebelled against his former leader (Sonny Forelli), as Tony Montana had. The only notable difference is that the final gunfight in Montana's mansion sees Montana eventually killed, whereas the final gunfight in Tommy's mansion sees Tommy managing to single-handedly take down his captors and survive.[4]


Tommy Vercetti is depicted as both intelligent and temperamental; he is easily angered and quick to resort to violence. He has no hesitation about killing, though many of his victims are in turn trying to kill Tommy as well, or have done something that requires to be killed. Despite all this, Tommy does also show a softer side as seen with his relations with Mercedes Cortez and Earnest Kelly, the latter whom he views as a father figure due to his childhood memories of working with his father at a printworks.


Early life[edit]

Tommy Vercetti was born to an Italian-American family. He was raised in Liberty City, where his father owned a printing shop.[5] When he was a teenager, he befriended Sonny Forelli, and he started working for his associates, earning his trust and position in the Forelli family.[6]

In Liberty City in 1971, he was sent by Sonny to kill a key mobster in the Harwood District, who was trying to destroy Forelli's early rackets. When he arrived, eleven men ambushed him. Tommy was forced to kill all of them, and he ended up in prison for multiple charges for murder.[7] He was placed on death row, but due to the Forelli's influence, he only served fifteen years. He also earned the title "The Harwood Butcher".[6]

Release from prison[edit]

Fresh out of prison in 1986, Tommy is keen to start work again for the Forelli Family, and is immediately dispatched by Sonny Forelli to Vice City to participate in a drug deal, due to Sonny's fear that Tommy's presence in Liberty City will cause him problems in his business as he is still too widely known there. Sonny also tells him to expand business in the south and to stay there for a while finding opportunities for a good business.

Tommy arrives at the deal as a supervisor between the Forelli and Vance Crime Family. Just then, a group of masked assailants open fire on them, killing Victor Vance and Forelli's men (Harry and Lee), resulting in Tommy losing both the money and the drugs, from which he narrowly escapes with Ken Rosenberg, a lawyer and Tommy's Vice City contact. With the promise to Sonny to retrieve both the drugs and money, he then sets out to find and kill the party responsible. Tommy, while associated with Lance Vance, Victor's brother, begins to work for Vice City's most powerful drug baron Ricardo Diaz (who is later revealed to be responsible for the ambushed deal).

Business ventures[edit]

After Tommy and Lance lead an assault on Diaz's estate and kill him, Tommy begins to disobey Sonny's orders and enjoys the empire he claimed from Diaz, without paying any tribute to the Forelli family, enraging Sonny, who constantly demands a larger cut of the profits from Tommy, and Lance, who wants more respect from Tommy and also more control in the family. He and the Forelli Family's conflict reach a boiling point when Tommy kills Forelli henchmen sent to seize his business revenue, and Sonny personally visits him in Vice City. Due to Lance's betrayal, he is forced into a large shootout with the Forelli crew, in which he kills Sonny, Lance, and the hit squad, finally securing his empire and gang in the city, with Ken Rosenberg as his main partner. It is also during this major gunfight that Tommy discovers that Sonny actually set up the eleven people to ambush Tommy and caused him to spend fifteen years in prison.[8]

At the end of the game, Tommy is shown to have become an extremely powerful figure in Vice City's criminal underworld. He has established the Vercetti Family, and he is shown to own a huge mansion, many businesses as fronts, and also has a dominating role in established drug trades in Vice City. He also leads the most powerful family in Vice City, still retaining his well-known nickname, and his defeat of the Forelli family leader is the beginning of the Forelli decline in Liberty City. Also, with the cooperation from the Big Mitch Baker's Bikers and the Los Cabrones, they are shown to be Vercetti's mutual business partners. Tommy, at the end of the game, is the kingpin of Vice City.

Influences and analysis[edit]

Ray Liotta, the actor who provided the voice for Tommy Vercetti, at the 2014 Deauville American Film Festival

Prior to the release of Vice City, IGN stated that Tommy was likely to "leave the same kind of imprint on kids today that [actor Ray Liotta's] portrayal of Ray Sinclair left on every high school and college kid who saw Something Wild back in 1986." They also compared Liotta's portrayal of Tommy to his portrayal of Henry Hill in Goodfellas.[9]

When asked about his portrayal of Tommy, Liotta stated that "it was hard work." He said that "you're pretty much putting yourself in [the game developers'] hands and doing whatever they want so there's not much for you to do creatively."[10]


The character of Tommy Vercetti received very positive reviews and remarks from critics and players of Vice City, making it to many lists of the best video game characters. He was included on IGN's list of Grand Theft Auto Favorite Badasses. They said "as much as we admire the strong-but-silent types, by the time Vice City rolled around, we were ready for a more fleshed-out protagonist. We got just that in the Hawaiian shirt-loving Tommy Vercetti."[6] Crave Online also placed Tommy second on their Top 10 Most Memorable GTA Characters, stating that playing as him was "a breath of fresh air".[11] In 2008, The Age ranked Vercetti as the 29th greatest Xbox character of all time, praised Ray Liotta's voice acting and stated "while the character riffs on Tony Montana throughout the game, Liotta's speeches give him a reckless sense of humour that makes him more likeable than old Scarface."[12] Liotta won the award for "Best Live Action/Voice Male Performance" at the 2003 G-Phoria Awards and "Best Performance by a Human" at the 2003 Spike Video Game Awards for his work as Vercetti.[13][14]

GameDaily included him in a top 25 list of video game anti-heroes, placing him ninth, and praising Liotta's portrayal as having transformed him from a generic-looking thug to a "tough guy who ruled the 80's."[15] PlayStation Beyond also placed him second in their Top 5 anti-heroes in gaming, saying "All we know about Tommy Vercetti [...] is that he's a mobster and he recently got out of prison, making him look more villain-like, which makes him one of the most anti-heroic characters of Grand Theft Auto.[16] Similarly, The Telegraph placed Tommy ninth on their Top 10 video game anti-heroes, stating that they "could have populated [the] list entirely with lead characters from GTA titles", but they "decided to pick out the most amoral of the bunch". [17] UGO Networks ranked Vercetti at 23rd on their list of the 25 most memorable Italians in video games.[18] Game Informer included him among "The 30 Characters Who Defined A Decade".[19] In 2013, Complex placed Vercetti eighth in a list of "12 Old School Video Game Characters Who Were Style Icons".[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Full Grand Theft Auto: Vice City credits". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 1, 2006. 
  2. ^ Grieser, Andy (June 9, 2003). "The Body Behind Vice City's Tommy Vercetti". ESC Mag. Archived from the original on February 13, 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  3. ^ McLaughlin, Rus; Thomas, Lucas M. (July 3, 2012). "IGN Presents The History of Grand Theft Auto". IGN. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  4. ^ O'Neill, Cliff. "Examining Grand Theft Auto's Scarface Connection". Game Chronicles. Retrieved March 29, 2008. 
  5. ^ Rockstar North (October 29, 2002). Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. PlayStation 2. Rockstar Games. Mission: "Spilling the Beans"
    Earnest Kelly: "Mr. Vercetti? Hey. You bought the old print works?" / Tommy Vercetti: "Yeah, my old man used to work on these [printing machines]... I used to spend the evenings with him, cleaning the rollers. I was going to follow him in his trade, but... I lived a different life."
  6. ^ a b c Scheeden, Jesse (April 28, 2008). "Grand Theft Auto: Favorite Badasses". IGN. Retrieved April 20, 2013. 
  7. ^ Rockstar North (October 29, 2002). Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. PlayStation 2. Rockstar Games. Mission: "Keep Your Friends Close..."
    Sonny Forelli: "Didn’t I say your temper would get you into trouble, huh?...How many was it? Ten? No, eleven men. That’s how you get to be called the Harwood Butcher!" / Tommy Vercetti: "You sent me to kill one man, ONE MAN. They knew I was coming Sonny..."
  8. ^ Rockstar North (October 29, 2002). Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. PlayStation 2. Rockstar Games. Mission: "Keep Your Friends Close..."
    Tommy: You took fifteen years from me, Sonny, and now I'm gonna make you pay!
    Sonny: You still don't get it, do you? I OWN you, Tommy. Those fifteen years were mine to spend!
  9. ^ IGN Staff (25 October 2002). "The Voice of Vice City". IGN. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  10. ^ McAnulty, Nick (12 January 2010). "Ray Liotta recalls his Grand Theft Auto days as Tommy Vercetti". Archived from the original on 18 December 2011. 
  11. ^ Tamburro, Paul (November 2, 2012). "Top 10 Most Memorable GTA Characters". PlayStation Beyond. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  12. ^ "The Top 50 Xbox Characters of All Time". The Age. September 30, 2008. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  13. ^ "G-Phoria Report". IGN. July 31, 2003. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Video Game Awards The Results". megagames. December 5, 2003. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  15. ^ Buffa, Chris. "Top 25 Anti-Heroes Gallery and Images". Archived from the original on April 27, 2009. Retrieved June 8, 2013. 
  16. ^ Ivanov, Denis (October 22, 2010). "Top 5 anti heroes in gaming". PlayStation Beyond. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  17. ^ Cowen, Nick; Hoggins, Tom (September 16, 2009). "Top 10 game anti-heroes". The Telegraph. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  18. ^ "The 25 Most Memorable Italians in Video Games". UGO Networks. August 25, 2010. Archived from the original on October 6, 2010. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  19. ^ "The 30 Characters Who Defined A Decade" Game Informer 212 (December 2010): 61.
  20. ^ Welch, Hanuman (May 23, 2013). "12 Old School Video Game Characters Who Were Style Icons". Complex. Retrieved July 22, 2013. 
Preceded by
Grand Theft Auto III
Protagonist of Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Succeeded by
Carl "CJ" Johnson
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas