See the Cast of ‘The Professional’ Then and Now
Luc Besson’s ‘The Professional’ (also known as ‘Leon’) was released in 1994, and though he made it on the fly while production was delayed on the more time-consuming and costly ‘The Fifth Element,’ it is widely considered to be the superior film. ‘The Professional’ stars Jean Reno as a hit man who takes in a 12-year-old girl (Natalie Portman, in her feature debut) when her family is murdered in a police raid. Almost 20 years after the film’s release, we take a look back at the cast of this thriller and see what they’re up to now.
Jean Reno, Leone “Leon” Montana
Then: Although Luc Besson always intended for Jean Reno to play the role of Leon (the film was inspired by Reno’s role in Besson’s ‘Nikita’), both Mel Gibson and Keanu Reeves reportedly expressed great interest in playing the French hit man.
Now: Reno went on to appear in ‘Mission: Impossible,’ ‘The Pink Panther’ and ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ Besson helped introduce American audiences to Reno, who also recently appeared in 2012′s ‘Alex Cross’ and starred on the crime show ‘Jo,’ which TF1 canceled earlier this year after one season.
Natalie Portman, Mathilda
Then: Natalie Portman almost didn’t get the part of Mathilda, the 12-year-old girl whose parents are murdered in a police raid, leaving her orphaned. The producers thought she was too young (Portman was 11), but Besson was impressed with the range of emotions in her audition. ‘The Professional’ marks Portman’s feature debut.
Now: Portman has garnered acclaim for her performances in films like ‘V for Vendetta,’ ‘Closer’ and ‘Black Swan.’ She can be seen next reprising the role of Jane Foster in ‘Thor: The Dark World,’ and is currently filming the Western ‘Jane Got a Gun,’ one of the most trouble productions of the year. Portman is married to her ‘Black Swan’ co-star and ballet dancer Benjamin Millipied.
Gary Oldman, Norman Stansfield
Then: ‘JFK’ and ‘True Romance’ star Gary Oldman played Norman Stansfield, a crooked DEA agent. Oldman also starred as the villain in Besson’s follow-up film, ‘The Fifth Element.’
Now: Oldman appeared in all three of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ films as Jim Gordon, and has also recently appeared in ‘Lawless‘ and ‘Paranoia.’ He can be seen next in ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,’ the ‘RoboCop‘ remake and Daniel Espinosa’s Stalin-era ‘Child 44‘ opposite Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace.
Danny Aiello, Tony
Then: Danny Aiello played Tony, the mobster who gives Leon his assignments. Aiello previously appeared in ‘The Godfather: Part II’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in America.’
Now: Aiello, who is also a talented stage actor and has performed in several Broadway productions, recently appeared in ‘Dolly Baby.’ His other film credits include ’2 Days in the Valley’ and ‘Lucky Number Slevin,’ and he can be seen next in 2014′s ‘Reach Me’ opposite Sylvester Stallone and Lauren Cohan.
Michael Badalucco, Mathilda’s Father
Then: Michael Badalucco played Mathilda’s father, who is murdered along with her mother in a shady police raid. Badalucco previously had bit parts in films like ‘Broadway Danny Rose’ and ‘Sleepless in Seattle.’
Now: Badalucco is perhaps best known for the role of lawyer Jimmy Berluti on the legal drama ‘The Practice.’ He’s made appearances on ‘Private Practice’ and ‘In Plain Sight,’ and had a recurring role on the 2010 season of ‘The Young and the Restless.’ Aside from a TV movie or two, he has a part in John Turturro’s upcoming ‘Fading Gigolo,’ which stars the director, Woody Allen, Sofia Vergara and Liev Schreiber in a story about a man who becomes a Don Juan in his later years.
Ellen Greene, Mathilda’s Mother
Then: Singer and actress Ellen Green played Mathilda’s mother. At the time Greene was best known for her role in the stage version of ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ which she reprised for the film version with Rick Moranis.
Now: Greene has appeared in the films ‘One Fine Day’ and ‘The Cooler,’ and starred on the short-lived television series ‘Pushing Daisies,’ created by Bryan Fuller. She recently reunited with Fuller for an episode of his new horror series, ‘Hannibal,’ and appeared in the Rick Otto-led ‘Walking Dead’ web series.
Willi One Blood, Blood
Then: Reggae singer Willi One Blood played Blood, one of Stansfield’s henchmen. The singer actually inspired the character of Drexl Spivey, played by ‘Professional’ co-star Gary Oldman in 1993′s ‘True Romance.’
Now: Willi One Blood had a song featured on the soundtrack for ‘Dumb and Dumber’ and also made an appearance in the MTV film ‘Joe’s Apartment,’ but since then he’s stayed away from Hollywood. He continues to make music and relocated from New York to Miami.