Oren Moverman’s Rampart arrives in select theaters this weekend, adding Woody Harrelson to the pantheon of actors who’ve taken on crooked cop roles, playing officers who uphold the law about as well as a cheerleader holds her liquor. For decades, films have been infiltrated by serve-and-protect types who play both sides, abuse their powers, and leave behind paths of destruction. “The most corrupt cop you’ve ever seen on screen,” reads the tagline on Rampart’s poster. These 15 badge-defilers would beg to differ.
Gary Oldman in Léon: The Professional (1994). This year’s Best Actor nominee certainly didn’t make his name playing the strong, silent, George Smiley type. He’s much better known for bringing to roaring life the most outsized character in the room, like Norman Stansfield, the crooked, druggie DEA he sleazily embodies in Luc Besson’s Léon: The Professional. Never one to skimp on the morally bereft bad boys, Oldman nearly claimed an additional spot on this list for his mafia-linked Jack Grimaldi in Romeo is Bleeding, but best to keep the focus on this wired-up nutcase, who gets über pissed at Natalie Portman’s daddy for stealing blow, then blows him—and his wife, and his little boy—away.