Public Enemies cast of characters
Find out who played John Dillinger before Johnny Depp got the role.
The role Melvin Purvis
The publicity-hound FBI agent (and J. Edgar Hoover protégé) who followed Dillinger’s trail
Starring Christian Bale
Past portrayals In the eyes of John Milius—wing-nut screenwriter of Apocalypse Now and director of Red Dawn—Dillinger’s legendary G-man nemesis was just as important as the outlaw himself. Milius’s underrated 1973 Dillinger, which employs the same dusty, nostalgic look as Bonnie and Clyde (1967), sees the two men (Ben Johnson as Purvis and Warren Oates—who seems to think he’s in a Western—as Dillinger) as kindred spirits. Toward the end, they find themselves dining at the same Chicago restaurant. Purvis buys Dillinger Champagne and passes him a note. “Due to the presence of my fiancée, enjoy this Champagne and the evening,” it says. “The next time we meet will be the last.”