Usually, the job of comic book movie actors is to smoothly transcend their character away from the pulpy graphics and bring them into the real world. However, that was not quite the case for Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Alexis Bledel, and the rest of the Sin City cast, because Frank Miller and co-director Robert Rodriguez did more than just adapt his series of gritty, noir-inspired graphic novels into a film. They brought them to life.
The critically acclaimed 2005 hit stays remarkably faithful to the source material - not just to the stories and character motivations, but also (and most importantly) the minimalistic, grayscale aesthetic that results in one of most refreshingly original and visually stunning films of its time. Many Sin City cast members would later appear in more straightforward superhero movies, including Rosario Dawson and Benicio del Toro, to name a few. To see what else the star-studded ensemble has been up to, read on.
Jessica Alba (Nancy Callahan)
After rising to fame with the 1999 horror-comedy Idle Hands and the sci-fi series Dark Angel, Jessica Alba played Nancy - a club dancer with a disturbing past - in Sin City the same year she starred in the first of two Fantastic Four movies as Invisible Woman. She would re-team with Robert Rodriguez for 2010’s Machete, the fourth installment of the Spy Kids movies in 2011, and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, in which she returned as Nancy.
The mother of three and founder of The Honest Company more recently partnered with Gabrielle Union on the Bad Boys movies spin-off series, L.A.’s Finest, and is currently starring in and producing the upcoming thriller Trigger Warning.
Bruce Willis (Det. John Hartigan)
Also appearing in the Sin City sequel, once again as Det. John Hartigan, was Bruce Willis, who seems to be busier now than ever. He already released six titles in 2021 alone (such as Midnight in the Switchgrass with Megan Fox), with three coming out later in the year (including Fortress, which already has a sequel in the works).
The Die Hard movies star also had a busy and successful 2019, reprising David Dunn in Glass, playing Edward Norton’s mentor in Motherless Brooklyn, and playing himself in The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part and Between Two Ferns: The Movie. Willis has five 2022 movie releases scheduled, including A Good Day to Die (not to be confused with A Good Day to Die Hard) which also features his Cosmic Sin co-star, Frank Grillo.
Devon Aoki (Miho)
“Deadly little Miho” was recast in the sequel with Jamie Chung, but was portrayed in the original Sin City cast by Devon Aoki. She broke through two years earlier as Suki in 2 Fast 2 Furious before playing one of the four main teen heroes of D.E.B.S. in 2004.
In 2006, she played another samurai-sword wielding warrior in the video game movie D.O.A.: Dead or Alive, had a small role in the lighter comic book movie, Zoom, appeared alongside Jason Statham and Jet Li for War in 2007, and entered a future war in Mutant Chronicles the following year. After 2009’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead, the model and mother retired from acting, but has appeared in a few music videos - most recently one for her half-brother, Steve Aoki.
Benicio Del Toro (Lt. Det. Jack “Jackie Boy” Rafferty)
Miho’s most memorable kill in Sin City would have to be the crooked cop known as “Jackie Boy,” played by Academy Award winner Benicio del Toro in his comic book movie debut. Years later, he appeared in the Marvel movies as “The Collector,” whom he reprised most recently on Disney+’s What If…? in 2021.
That same year, he re-teamed with Traffic director Steven Soderbergh for HBO Max’s No Sudden Move, and worked with Wes Anderson for the first time in The French Dispatch. Del Toro has a couple of dramas in the works (including White Lies from Oliver Stone), a comedy from writer and director Jamie Foxx called All-Star Weekend, and a Cuban Mafia biopic called The Corporation.
Rosario Dawson (Gail)
Also part of the MCU (if Netflix’s Marvel TV shows still count) is Rosario Dawson. She actually made her comic book movie debut with Josie and the Pussycats four years before playing Old Town’s Gail in Sin City.
The “Geek Goddess” has since become especially prolific for comic book character roles, including Wonder Woman in several DC animated movies, Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in The LEGO Batman Movie, Catwoman in HBO Max’s Batman: The Audio Adventures podcast, and Ava DuVernay’s upcoming DMZ series adaptation. The Dopesick cast member is is re-teaming with Kevin Smith for Clerks III and will soon lead her own Ashoka Tano TV show - a miniseries spun-off from The Mandalorian - on Disney+.
Clive Owen (Dwight McCarthy)
Gail’s lover - the mysterious, hard-nosed Dwight McCarthy - was first played in the original Sin City by Academy Award nominee Clive Owen. He has probably never played a more badass character, even though his earlier role in The Bourne Identity and later performance in Inside Man offer worthy options.
After returning to comic book adaptations with 2017's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and playing the enemy of two Will Smiths in 2019’s Gemini Man, the British actor reunited with his Children of Men co-star Julianne Moore for Apple TV+’s Stephen King-inspired miniseries Lisey’s Story in 2021 and, that same year, joined the Impeachment: American Crime Story cast as Bill Clinton. Owen is reportedly planning to head to France to shoot a new TV series called Monsieur Spade, on which he will play Humphrey Bogart’s famous detective character from The Maltese Falcon, Sam Spade.
Alexis Bledel (Becky)
One of the more notably younger Old Town girls is Becky, played by Alexis Bledel - who was best known at the time as Rory from the Gilmore Girls cast, and from her debut film Tuck Everlasting in 2002. This past year, she reprised her Emmy Award-winning role as Emily Malek in The Handmaid’s Tale cast for Season 4 and will reportedly reprise her character from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies in a third installment.
Jaime King (Wendy/Goldie)
The twin sisters who led Old Town in Sin City, Wendy and Goldie, were both played by Jaime King, who would also star in another visually unique comic book movie from director Frank Miller called The Spirit. A year later, 2009’s 3-D My Bloody Valentine remake made her a bit of scream queen (further proven by her lead role on the Netflix original zombie show Black Summer).
Of course, the model and actress is also known for lighter roles, such as Lemon Breeland in the Hart of Dixie cast or in 2018’s Ocean’s Eight as herself. King recently reunited with Bruce Willis for the 2021 action movie Out of Death and will play the title role in the upcoming assassin thriller Banshee.
Mickey Rourke (Marv)
Moments before her untimely death at the beginning of Sin City’s first segment, Goldie captured the heart of an extremely tough, but compassionate, criminal named Marv. I would personally rank this character right underneath Mickey Rourke’s Academy Award nominated role in director Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler on a list of his strongest performances.
After returning to comic book movies with 2010’s Iron Man 2 and the Sin City sequel in 2014, the Angel Heart star would also return to horror movies, such as the Shudder original anthology Nightmare Cinema in 2015 and upcoming titles like The Seeding and She’s Still Here alongside Dexter: New Blood cast member Jennifer Carpenter. Of course, his biggest role in recent memory would have to be on The Masked Singer Season 4 as Gremlin.
Carla Gugino (Lucille)
Marv’s parole officer, Lucille, is played by Carla Gugino in her fourth collaboration with Spy Kids director Robert Rodriguez. She also did several comic book adaptations directed by Zack Snyder, including Watchmen as Sally Jupiter and all of his DCEU installments as the voice of the Kryptonian ship.
The Jett star is best known lately for appearing in several projects from Mike Flanagan, including Gerald’s Game, his Haunting Collection on Netflix, and a brief cameo in the Midnight Mass cast as a judge. The Gunpowder Milkshake cast member’s next project, a TV series thriller called Leopard Skin, is now in post-production.
Elijah Wood (Kevin)
Giving one of Sin City’s creepiest performances (without saying a word) as the cannibalistic Kevin is Elijah Wood. The former child actor became an icon as Frodo in the Lord of the Rings movies, a sitcom star with FX’s surreal American remake of Wilfred, and a horror movie actor (i.e. his inventive 2012 remake of Maniac) and producer (i.e. the brutal revenge tale Mandy from 2018 starring Nicolas Cage).
In 2021, he played the FBI analyst to whom Ted Bundy revealed the details of his crimes in No Man of God and leant his voice to the video game Psychonauts 2. Speaking of video games, he has a movie about the dark side of video game programming called L.A. Rush in the works, along with his upcoming Toxic Avenger remake.
Nick Stahl (Yellow Bastard)
Perhaps the creepiest and undeniably grossest character in Sin City, however, is Roark Jr., otherwise known as “Yellow Bastard” due to his unique complexion, who is played by Nick Stahl. Also a former child actor who made his film debut in 1991 with Mel Gibson’s The Man Without a Face, he is best known as John Connor in 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines or as the lead of HBO’s Carnivale cast.
In 2021, he joined the Fear the Walking Dead cast in a recurring role and made a guest appearance among the ruthless Animal Kingdom characters on the TNT drama. He is currently filming a live action adaptation of the hit anime, Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac, expected for 2023.
Josh Hartnett (The Salesman)
The first character we meet and the one who first refers to the film’s setting as “Sin City” is the mysterious, deadly “Salesman.” He is played by The Faculty cast member Josh Hartnett, who would star alongside Bruce Willis in Lucky Number Slevin in 2006.
The following year, he appeared in a more brutal comic adaptation called 30 Days of Night and then, after an acting break, became the lead of the Penny Dreadful cast. After playing himself on Quibi’s Die Hart in 2020, Hartnett appeared in two cool 2021 thrillers (Wrath of Man and Ida Red), and is now working on the TV series The Fear Index.
There are many Sin City cast members who have, unfortunately, passed away in the years since the film was released - including Powers Boothe (Senator Roark), Michael Clarke Duncan (Manute), Rutger Hauer (Cardinal Roark), and Brittany Murphy (Shellie). However, they will forever be seen as a bright, delightful memory from an otherwise beautifully bleak and deliciously dismal masterpiece.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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