Thrillers

The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity 

Ranker Film
Updated March 14, 2019 149 votes 24 voters 4.1k views 21 items

List Rules Vote up the top films where one character pretends to be someone else.

Thrillers are that much more engaging when the lead character operates under an assumed identity. Whether the audience is in on the ruse from the beginning or is left stunned by a third-act reveal, these dramas keep them on the edge of their seats. The best movies about an assumed identity feature complicated scenarios that make it difficult to tell the truth from fiction. This is a list of the top movies about pretending to be someone else, including everything from Psycho to Single White Female to Fatal Attraction.

What films will you find on this list of movies about taking over a life? In The Talented Mr. Ripley, Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) befriends – and eventually impersonates – the wealthy Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law). The movie was nominated for five Academy Awards in 1999. The Usual Suspects is another good movie about assumed identities. Typically, the villain is the character with the assumed identity, but Julia Roberts flipped the script for her 1991 movie Sleeping with the Enemy. Other good movies about pretending to be someone else include Mr. Brooks, Taking Lives, and American Psycho.

Which movies about assuming an identity do you think are the best? Give your favorites a thumbs up and please add any great features that are missing.

list ordered by
1
Psycho is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

Released: 1960

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Psycho is a 1960 American horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film centers on an encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane, who ends up at a secluded motel after taking money from ...more

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2
The Usual Suspects is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne

Released: 1994

Directed by: Bryan Singer

The Usual Suspects is a 1995 German-American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Bryan Singer and written by Christopher McQuarrie. It stars Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio del ...more

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3
The Talented Mr. Ripley ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon

Released: 1999

Directed by: Anthony Minghella

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a 1999 American psychological thriller written for the screen and directed by Anthony Minghella. An adaptation of the 1955 Patricia Highsmith novel of the same name, ...more

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4
The Bone Collector is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington, Queen Latifah

Released: 1999

Directed by: Phillip Noyce

The Bone Collector is a 1999 psychological thriller film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie, directed by Phillip Noyce and produced by Martin Bregman. The movie was based on the novel ...more

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5
One Hour Photo is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Clark Gregg

Released: 2002

Directed by: Mark Romanek

One Hour Photo is a 2002 American psychological thriller film written and directed by Mark Romanek and starring Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan, Gary Cole, and Eriq La Salle. ...more

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#21 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #37 of 146 The Best and Scariest Psychological Thrillers of All Time

6
Fatal Attraction is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Jane Krakowski

Released: 1987

Directed by: Adrian Lyne

This film is a 1987 American psychological thriller film directed by Adrian Lyne and starring Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, and Anne Archer. The film centers on a married Manhattan man who has a ...more

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7
Argo is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston

Released: 2012

Directed by: Ben Affleck

Argo is a 2012 American political thriller film directed by Ben Affleck. The film is adapted from U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operative Tony Mendez's book The Master of Disguise and Joshuah ...more

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8
A History of Violence is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris

Released: 2005

Directed by: David Cronenberg

This film is a 2005 American thriller film directed by David Cronenberg and written by Josh Olson. It is an adaptation of the 1997 graphic novel of the same name by John Wagner and Vince Locke. ...more

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9
American Psycho is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto

Released: 2000

Directed by: Mary Harron

American Psycho is a 2000 American neo-noir satirical psychological horror film directed by Mary Harron, based on the 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis. Wealthy New York City investment banking ...more

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10
Total Recall is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside

Released: 1990

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven. In 2084, a construction worker, Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger), suddenly finds himself embroiled in ...more

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11
Single White Female is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bridget Fonda, Stephen Tobolowsky

Released: 1992

Directed by: Barbet Schroeder

Single White Female is a 1992 American thriller film based on John Lutz's novel SWF Seeks Same. The film stars Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh and is directed by Barbet Schroeder.

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12
Taking Lives is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Angelina Jolie, Kiefer Sutherland, Ethan Hawke

Released: 2004

Directed by: D. J. Caruso

Taking Lives is a 2004 American psychological thriller film starring Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke. The film was marketed with the tagline "He would kill to be you." The original ...more
13
Sleeping with the Enemy ... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin, Kyle Secor

Released: 1991

Directed by: Joseph Ruben

Sleeping with the Enemy is a 1991 psychological thriller film directed by Joseph Ruben and starring Julia Roberts and Patrick Bergin. The film is based on Nancy Price's 1987 novel of the same ...more
14
The Fan is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Robert De Niro, Jack Black, Ellen Barkin

Released: 1996

Directed by: Tony Scott

The Fan is a 1996 American thriller film directed by Tony Scott, and starring Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Peter Abrahams. The Fan is a ...more

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15
Wicker Park is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Diane Kruger, Rose Byrne, Jessica Paré

Released: 2004

Directed by: Paul McGuigan

Wicker Park is a 2004 American psychological drama/romantic mystery film directed by Paul McGuigan and starring Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Diane Kruger and Matthew Lillard. The film is a remake ...more

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16
Face/Off is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Gina Gershon

Released: 1997

Directed by: John Woo

Face/Off is a 1997 American science fiction action thriller film directed by John Woo and starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. Travolta is an FBI agent and Cage is a terrorist, sworn enemies ...more

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17
Surrogates is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Bruce Willis, Rosamund Pike, Taylor Cole

Released: 2009

Directed by: Jonathan Mostow

Surrogates is a 2009 American science fiction action film, based on the 2005–2006 comic book series The Surrogates. Directed by Jonathan Mostow, it stars Bruce Willis as Tom Greer, an FBI agent ...more

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18
Mr. Brooks is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Demi Moore, Kevin Costner, Danielle Panabaker

Released: 2007

Directed by: Bruce A. Evans

Mr. Brooks is a 2007 American psychological thriller film directed by Bruce A. Evans starring Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, Dane Cook, and William Hurt. It was released on June 1, 2007. The film ...more
19
The American Friend is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Dennis Hopper, Bruno Ganz, Lou Castel

Released: 1977

Directed by: Wim Wenders

The American Friend is a 1977 film by Wim Wenders, loosely adapted from the novel Ripley's Game by Patricia Highsmith. The film is of the neo-noir genre, and features Dennis Hopper as career ...more

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20
Abandon is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Zooey Deschanel, Katie Holmes, Gabrielle Union

Released: 2002

Directed by: Stephen Gaghan

Abandon is a 2002 American thriller film released by Paramount Pictures and Touchstone Pictures. It was written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, starring Katie Holmes as a college student whose ...more
21
The Roommate is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Thrillers with an Assumed Identity
Nina Dobrev, Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly

Released: 2011

Directed by: Christian E. Christiansen

The Roommate is a 2011 American thriller film directed by Christian E. Christiansen and starring Minka Kelly, Leighton Meester, Cam Gigandet, Danneel Harris, Matt Lanter, and Aly Michalka. It ...more