Legendary filmmaker, and one of Martin Scorsese’s longest-running collaborators, Paul Schrader has created some of cinema’s all-time great characters in Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and Julian Kay in American Gigolo, and the decorated screenwriter and director looks to have done it once again with The Card Counter cast and its quartet of top-billed stars. With names like Oscar Isaac, Willem Dafoe, Tiffany Haddish, and Tye Sheridan sitting atop the list of names in Schrader’s moody crime drama about a former United States soldier and the son of one of his dead colleagues getting revenge, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the most anticipated 2021 movies.
You can probably name a few movies with each of those stars, but it might be a different story for other actors who show up in The Card Counter. Fear not, as we have put together a quick yet comprehensive list to help ease your mind.
Oscar Isaac (William Tell)
Leading the bunch in The Card Counter is Oscar Isaac, who portrays soldier-turned-drifter William Tell at the center of Paul Schrader’s intricate noir throwback. One of the biggest stars in today’s Hollywood with everything from the Star Wars “Sequel Trilogy” to Ex Machina under his belt, Isaac has built quite a name for himself for the better part of the past two decades, delivering commanding performances in film, television, theater, and even podcasts, collecting multiple awards (including a Golden Globe for Show Me a Hero) along the way.
And the future looks to be just as bright for Oscar Isaac, as he has one of the leading roles in Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated Dune adaptation as well as the Marvel Disney+ series Moon Knight. Oh, and there’s also the HBO limited series, Scenes from a Marriage, where Isaac will share the screen with his A Most Violent Year co-star, Jessica Chastain, once more.
Tiffany Haddish (La Linda)
Tiffany Haddish comes into the picture in The Card Counter as La Linda, a high-profile poker matchmaker who offers William Tell a way to enter the world of high-takes gambling. One of the hardest working names in not only Hollywood but the entertainment industry in general, Haddish has been on a role that never seems to lose momentum since the early 2000s, and even more so in recent years since becoming a household name with her turn in Girls Trip. With an Emmy Award-winning guest appearance on Saturday Night Live and a Grammy Award-winning comedy album (Black Mitzvah), Haddish has become a force to reckon with in today’s pop culture.
More recently, Tiffany Haddish showed her more dramatic side in The Kitchen, and extremely over-the-top side in Bad Trip, with much more to come in the very near future. The actress/comedian/writer will even star alongside Nicolas Cage in 2022’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
Willem Dafoe (Major John Gordo)
Willem Dafoe shows up as the main antagonist in The Card Counter, portraying Major John Gordo, William Tell’s commanding officer who led a torture program at Abu Ghraib and allowed others to take the blame. Dafoe, a four-time Oscar nominee, has had one of those careers that has allowed him to portray everyone from Norman Osborn/Green Goblin in Spider-Man to Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ, and appear in everything from the John Wick franchise to multiple Oliver Stone films. To say his filmography is diverse would be understatement of epic proportions.
Over the years, Willem Dafoe has also showed up on The Simpsons, voiced an original villain in the 2004 video game James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing, and provided voice work for a number of animated movies like Finding Nemo and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Oh, and he’s also been a part of the xXx franchise on top of that.
Tye Sheridan (Cirk)
Tye Sheridan appears in The Card Counter as Cirk, the son of another soldier under Major John Gordo’s command whose suicide leads the young man down a dark path with thoughts of revenge and murder. Sheridan, who has since gone on to portray Scott Summers/Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse and X-Men: Dark Phoenix, got his start in Terrence Mallick’s 2011 art house film Tree of Life before breaking out in the 2012 coming-of-age crime drama Mud.
In 2018, Tye Sheridan had perhaps his biggest performance to date with his portrayal of Wade Watts in Steven Spielberg’s eye-catching and pop-culture-riddled adaptation of Ready Player One. Sheridan will next appear in George Clooney’s upcoming directorial effort The Tender Bar.
Bobby C. King (Slippery Joe)
Bobby C. King, a prolific stuntman and actor, shows up in The Card Counter as Slippery Joe. Over the years, King has appeared on TV shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Hollywood, as well as movies like Easy A, Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation, and The Horde. With more than 100 credits for his stunt work, there’s a chance you’ve seen King put his life on the line in everything from Year One to X-Men: First Class and everything else in between.
Kat Baker (Sara)
Kat Baker, who appears as Sara in The Card Counter, has only been acting for a couple of years now, but that stretch of time has been extremely busy for the actress. Prior to landing a role in Paul Schrader’s crime noir, Baker appeared in The Protégé, Chick Fight, and Fatman. Baker is also set to appear in The Comeback Trail alongside Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman, and Zach Braff.
Dylan Flashner (Sergeant Hoskins)
Dylan Flashner portrays Sergeant Hoskins in The Card Counter, perhaps the biggest movie in the fledgling actor’s filmography to date. Prior to appearing in the 2021 crime drama, Flashner appeared briefly in movies like Lanksy, Asking for It, Vanquish, and Farewell Amor, all of which were released since 2020. Like Kat Baker, the Flashner will be in The Comeback Trail, though the film’s new release date has not yet been announced. Flashner also has a music career in addition to his acting work, including the 2021 single “Bad Habits.”
Billy Slaughter (Fiddle)
Taking on the role of Fiddle in The Card Counter is Billy Slaughter, who has shown up in dozens of movies and several other high-profile TV series for the better part of the past two decades. If you are a fan of the Netflix crime drama Mindhunter, then you will surely recognize Slaughter as Charles Sanders in the show’s second and possibly final season. With other credits on shows like Treme, Nashville, American Horror Story, and The Purge, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Slaughter on the small screen over the years, but if not there, then you’ve probably seen him in movies like The Magnificent Seven, Midnight Special, Happy Death Day, and The Big Short.
Alexander Barbara (Mr. USA)
Alexander Barbara shows up as Mr. USA in The Card Counter, continuing a decent run of movies and TV shows that is pretty impressive, to say the least. Even though his name is not as immediately recognizable as the bigger stars at the top of this list, Babara has appeared on shows like Stranger Things, For All Mankind, and Queen of the South, as well as movies like The Hunt, Triple 9, and The Fate of the Furious.
Amye Gousset (Judy Baufort)
Amye Gousset shows up in The Card Counter as Judy Baufort. Prior to taking on the role in Paul Schrader’s latest in a long line of crime dramas, Gousset appeared on TV shows like Army Wives, Dark Corners, Nashville, and, most recently, The Purge. Her film credits include titles like Battlecreek, Assimilate, and multiple shorts dating back to 2010. Gousset will next appear in the upcoming documentary The Past Is Never Dead: The Story of William Faulkner, and Mysterious Circumstances: The Death of Meriwether Lewis.
Adrienne Lau (Crystal)
Adrienne Lau appears as Crystal in The Card Counter, a rare acting gig for the popular music artist who became the first Chinese-American singer in the top 10 of the U.S. Pop Billboard Singles Chart with her hit song, “Wanna Be Happy,” in July 2006. Other songs released by Lau include “You’re the One” with Petey Pablo, “Hypnotic Love,” and “Olympics Beijing” from the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.
Joel Michaely (Ronnie)
Joel Michaely shows up in The Card Counter as Ronnie. Ever since making his on-screen debut in the 1998 teen comedy Can’t Hardly Wait, Michaely has appeared in movies like Ghost World, The Rules of Attraction, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, to name just a few. His TV credits include Unhappily Ever After, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Ryan Murphy’s Popular, which ran on The WB from 1999 to 2001.
With a seemingly endless list of talented actors — both rising and well-established — in the Card Counter, it’s quite easy to see why Paul Schrader’s crime drama has gone from one of the most anticipated movies of the year to one of the most talked about. And, the best part, most of the names on the list, including Oscar Isaac, will be in some of the long-awaited 2022 movies as well.
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Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.