2. Bill The Butcher – Gangs Of New York

Daniel Day Lewis as Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York

As an actor, Daniel Day-Lewis is undeniably one of the most talented and respected artists there is. Known for throwing himself whole-heartedly into any role he takes, it’s really no surprise that his character in Martin Scorcese’s Gangs of New York is one of cinema’s most memorable villains of all time. Day-Lewis stars as William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting, a gang leader who runs the Five Points territory in 19th-century Manhattan.

Day-Lewis’s magnetic and larger-than-life performance not only makes Bill the Butcher memorable but also makes it harder to believe that he was actually a real man. William Poole was the leader of the Bowery Boys gang, and also went by the unsavory nickname “Bill the Butcher”. He was also a bare-knuckle boxer and the leader of a political movement known as the “Know Nothing” movement.

Interestingly, though Gangs of New York‘s general setting and context and the character of Bill the Butcher were real, they didn’t exist as the film portrays. William Poole actually died a decade before the events of the film, and was never known to have killed anyone. Though Day-Lewis’s performance brought an incarnation of Poole to life in a sense, Gangs of New York certainly took some creative liberties with the historical figure’s life.