Ricky Jay - Rotten Tomatoes

Ricky Jay

Highest Rated:   96% House of Games (1987)
Lowest Rated:   54% Heartbreakers (2001)
Birthday:   Not Available
Birthplace:   Not Available
An offbeat renaissance man, Ricky Jay had distinguished himself as a magician, a sleight-of-hand artist, an author, and an archivist of unusual information, but he's become increasingly visible to filmgoers thanks to a series of choice supporting roles in notable motion pictures. Born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1948, Ricky Jay spent most of his childhood in New Jersey, where his grandfather, a professional magician, first showed him how to do card tricks. Jay made his first appearance on-stage at the age of four, when his grandfather brought him out during a performance for the Society of American Magicians. As he grew older, Jay developed a passionate interest in both magic and cardistry, as well as the stranger tributaries of entertainment history, and after graduating from Cornell University, he worked for a time as a barker and sideshow performer with a traveling circus. In the 1970s, Jay moved his act from the sideshow to night spots and theaters, performing his tricks and stunts (including spearing a watermelon with a playing card which was thrown at over 90 miles an hour) in comedy and magic clubs, and opening shows for the likes of Tina Turner and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Jay also began sharing his historical research with the world in a series of books: Cards As Weapons (a history of card tricks as well as a guide to performing them), Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women (about odd and anomalous figures in the history of entertainment), and Jay's Journal of Anomalies, a compendium of information about "conjurers, cheats, hustlers, hoaxters, pranksters, jokesters, imposters, pretenders, side-show showmen, armless calligraphers, mechanical marvels, and popular entertainments." In the 1980s, Jay made the acquaintance of playwright and director David Mamet, with whom he shared an interest in the workings of confidence games; Jay became a consultant for the original stage production of Mamet's play The Shawl in 1985, and two years later Mamet called on Jay to play an unscrupulous card shark in his film House of Games. Jay soon became a regular in Mamet's screen productions, and appeared in six films he's directed, including The Spanish Prisoner and Heist. Mamet also gave Jay's offscreen career a boost, serving as director for Jay's one-man show Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants, which became a major hit both off-Broadway and on the road. (The show was later videotaped for broadcast on HBO in 1996; a year later, Jay would host another TV special on the history of magic.) Jay's acting work also caught the eye of filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, who cast him in small but showy roles in two of his films, Boogie Nights and Magnolia (the latter featured Jay narrating a sequence on odd and anomalous crimes which could have come from one of his books...one of which was later shown on a library table). And Jay's research in magic has also given him another connection to the film industry: He runs a small company called Deceptive Practices, which specializes in creating trick props and illusions for the movies (their work as been featured in such pictures as Forrest Gump, Leap of Faith, and Congo).


Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet An Art That Nature Makes: The Work of Rosamond Purcell
  • Actor
67% The Automatic Hate
  • Uncle Josh
93% Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay
  • Actor
$0.2M 2013
68% The Brothers Bloom
  • Narrator
$3.5M 2009
71% The Great Buck Howard
  • Agent
$0.7M 2009
67% Redbelt
  • Marty Brown
$2.3M 2008
76% The Prestige
  • Milton
$53.1M 2006
57% Last Days
  • Detective
$0.4M 2005
63% Incident at Loch Ness
  • Actor
66% Heist
  • Don `Pinky' Pincus
$23.3M 2001
54% Heartbreakers
  • Dawson's Auctioneer
85% State and Main
  • Jack
$5.8M 2000
70% Grateful Dawg
  • Actor
83% Magnolia
  • Burt Ramsey
61% Mystery Men
  • Vic Weens
56% Tomorrow Never Dies
  • Henry Gupta
93% Boogie Nights
  • Kurt Longjohn
No Score Yet Sink or Swim
  • The Hat
89% The Spanish Prisoner
  • George Lang
No Score Yet Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants
  • Actor
No Score Yet El Guardabosque, el Cocinero y el Hoyo en el Cielo
  • Hawkes
No Score Yet Ring of the Musketeers
  • Kearns
No Score Yet The Water Engine
  • Ratty Inventor
91% Homicide
  • Aaron
83% Things Change
  • Mr. Silver
96% House of Games
  • George/Vegas Man


No Score Yet Ransom
  • Roger Prince
  • 2017
No Score Yet The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
  • Guest
  • 2014
No Score Yet Late Show With David Letterman
  • Guest
  • 2013
No Score Yet Teen Titans Go!
  • Actor
  • 2013
85% The Simpsons
  • Voice
  • 2011
78% Lie to Me
  • Mason Brock
  • 2009
84% The Unit
  • Agent Kern
  • 2009
  • 2007
92% Deadwood
  • Eddie Sawyer
  • Screenwriter
  • 2004
74% The X-Files
  • Maleeni/Pinchbeck
  • 2000

Quotes from Ricky Jay's Characters

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