The departed Wiki

I don't want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me. Years ago, we had the church. That was only a way of saying "we had each other." The Knights of Columbus were real head-breakers, true guineas; they took over their piece of the city. Twenty years after an Irishman couldn't get a f-cking job, we had the presidency - may he rest in peace. That's what the niggers don't realize. If I got one thing against the black chappies, it's this: no one gives it to you. You have to take it.
― Frank Costello's monologue[src]

Francis "Frank" Costello was an Irish American boss mobster and he is the main antagonist of the 2006 live-action movie The Departed. Costello plays the role of father figure to Colin Sullivan and Billy Costigan.

He was portrayed by Jack Nicholson.


Early life and mafia[]

Frank Costello grew up from an Irish Catholic family, in the Irish neighborhood of South Boston, Boston, at a time when Irish immigrants were hated in America. Costello was a good student at an early age, but he turned to crime in the Irish mob. Costello supported the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy. He hated African Americans and Italian Americans, especially the Italians of Providence, in Boston. At an unspecified point in his history Gwen Costello became his wife. Costello met Arnold French, who became his right-hand man and close friend. He became the boss of his own mafia organization, with predominantly Irish-American members, the Costello crime family, in which French was also a leader, under Costello. He was also an FBI informant, who denounced mobsters including his men, those who "wasn't going down anyway."

First encounter with Colin Sullivan[]

At a young age, Colin Sullivan is introduced to organized crime through Costello in the Irish neighborhood of South Boston. Costello trains him to become his mole inside the Massachusetts State Police. Sullivan is accepted into the Special Investigation Unit, which focuses on organized crime. Before he graduates from the Police Academy, Billy Costigan is asked by Captain Oliver Queenan and Staff Sergeant Sean Dignam to become an Undercover officer, as his childhood and family ties to organized crime make him a perfect infiltrator. He drops out of the Academy on charges of assault, and does time in prison on a fake assault charge to increase his credibility. Unbeknownst to Sullivan, Costello has also put another mole in the SIU, Barrigan, which informs him of Colin's moves within the SIU.

As both infiltrate their respective organizations, Sullivan begins a romance with psychiatrist Madolyn Madden. Costigan sees her for his probation, part of the undercover role, and also develops a relationship with her as well.


In September 2006, Costello commissioned a dependent guy from the MASS Processor Company, Myles Kennefick to steal 20 microprocessors, to sell them to the Chinese mob, since the cost is 100 grand a piece. However, after stealing the microprocessors, Kennefick wants to flee to Florida to sell them, but Frank Costello has him killed by his men before he can escape. He stole the microprocessors and Kennefick's body was found in a dumpster two days later.

Billy Costigan recruitment[]

Billy Costigan after being in prison for four months[5], on his release he does some actions to attract the attention of Costello, like beating up two Providence gangsters. After these actions, on the evening of a day Costello met Billy Costigan for the first time in a bar. While they are walking in the back with Mr. French, Costello orders French to search Costigan, and French hits Costigan's injured arm on a table and looks for him, saying he is clean. Frank then repeatedly hits Billy's broken hand, interrogating Billy on charges of being a cop. Billy holds under interrogation. Costello discusses with French whether to trust Costigan, and Costello remembers that he is the nephew of Jackie Costigan, who was part of his crew until his death in 1995, but is remembered for his reliability. The next day Billy has an "interview" with Frank in his apartment, consequently he joins Costello's crew. On the morning of that day, the police find the bodies of the two guys in Providence that Bill beat up, killed by Costello. He telling Sullivan what the murder gun is in Jimmy Pappas' car, causing him to be arrested.

Chinese deal[]

A few months later, the Chinese arrived in Boston, Costello arrived with his crew, Robert, a Chinese American friend who acted as interpreter for the buyers, and the suitcase containing the microprocessors, in one place. That area had cameras, placed by the Special Investigation Unit, but they aimed at a blind spot, unable to see the exchange. The Chinese show up with the million dollars, but two of the Chinese appear at the meeting with automatic weapons, but Costello points out the senselessness of the gesture in the business. Costello hands them the briefcase, and the Chinese give him the dollars, but while the Chinese were leaving Boston in a boat, they are arrested and the microprocessors turn out to be simply light sockets.

Finding the mole[]

After Costello barely escapes a sting operation, both moles become aware of the other's existence, though not their respective identities. Sullivan is told to find the "rat" and asks Costello for his underlings' personal information (birthdates, Social Security numbers, etc.) to determine who is the informant within Costello's crew. The day later Costigan follows Costello into a pornographic movie theater where Costello gives Sullivan an envelope with the details. Costigan then chases Sullivan through Boston's Chinatown district. When it is over, both men still do not know each other's identity. Meanwhile, Costello recruits new people for the drug load from Gloucester.

Queenan murder[]

Two days later[6], Sullivan ordered some cops of Internal Investigations to chase Captain Queenan, to find out where he is heading and find out about the infiltrator. Queenan meets Costigan in 344 Wash, an abandoned building. Sullivan sends Costello's men in and Queenan distracts them to let Costigan escape. He is thrown from the roof and dies at the feet of Costigan. When the mobsters escape, Costigan pretends he has come to rejoin them. The trailing State Troopers open fire on Costello's crew, which causes casualties on both sides. Later, at one of Costello's safe houses, Timothy Delahunt, mortally wounded, calls Costigan to tell him that despite giving him the wrong address (he had said 314 Wash), he had come to the right one, proving that he had guessed that he was the infiltrator. He was about to explain to Costigan why he hadn't warned the others, but he died before he said it. Fitzy is given the job of hiding Delahunt's body in Fenway's swamps, but the body will be found the next afternoon, and the next day the body will be identified as Delahunt's.

Now under scrutiny, Sullivan is attacked by Dignam, sospicious because of Queenan's death. Captain George Ellerby places Dignam on leave. Using Queenan's phone, Sullivan calls Costigan, who refuses to abort his mission. Sullivan learns of Costello's role as an informant for the FBI from Queenan's diary, causing him to worry about his dual identity being revealed.

Ambush in Sheffield[]

News reports the news that Delahunt was an undercover officer of the Boston Police Department. Costello thinks he no longer has to look for the mole in his crew, thus removing his suspicions about Costigan. Shortly after he goes to Sheffield for a drug shipment, Sullivan calls Costello to inform him he has a tail as he and his men drive to a cocaine drop-off. Costello furiously demands that Sullivan gets rid of the tail, to which he agrees. Fed up with Costello's arrogance, along with the knowledge that he is an FBI informant, Sullivan gets rid of the tail and convinces Ellerby to a special ops strike at the drop-off where he intends to confront Costello. With Costigan's help, Sullivan tracks down where the drop-off is located. After loading the drug, while Costello and his men are about to return to Boston, the state police ambush them. Costello and his crew become trapped in a gunfight with the police, resulting in most of the mobsters being killed. Costello remains in his car with Mr. French, who moves away from the shooting, but while he backs up with the French car he is hit, letting Costello escape. French shoots himself just before his car comes into focus.

Final confrontion with Sullivan and death[]

As Costello attempts an escape he is confronted by Sullivan. Costello admits he is an occasional FBI mole. Sullivan rages at him and then asks if the FBI knows about his connection to Costello's crew. Costello denies ever giving up a man who was like a son to him. Outraged, Sullivan asks Costello if that was all it was about; all the murder, sex and "no sons" suggesting Costello was sterile. Angered, Costello shoots at him but misses and Sullivan fires back, hitting him multiple times. Near death, Costello tries to shoot Sullivan again, but Sullivan dodges the shot and returns fire, killing Costello. Shortly after he died, his wife Gwen called him on the phone, and Sullivan answered, telling him that he was shot.


Frank Costello grew up as an Irish Catholic, at a time when the Irish were hated in America. He was good at school, but over time he thought the study was a paradox. Costello has thoughts and a morality of his own, according to which you go forward in ambition, in being willing to do anything to take and be what you want in life, because nobody gives you anything, you have to take it, even killing whoever hampers. Costello has an aversion towards the Catholic church, he knows he can also have power over priests and nuns, given the fact that he also had sexual relations with a nun, and he condemns the priests who cover up the harassment of children. It demonstrates that sexual relationship, of having obtained a bride of the Lord, before the Lord himself, thus breaking the clergy and the honesty of the nun. After escaping the police ambush in Sheffield, Costello meets Colin Sullivan, who has grown up as a godson. He is questioned by Sullivan about relations with the FBI, but Costello replies that he is like a son to him, that he would never report him. Sullivan teases him about this, and accuses him of the fact that he committed murders, had sex with various women, and did not generate even one child. This is a crucial detail for Frank Costello, he suggests it is sterile. Angry Costello tries to shoot him, but Colin avoids the blow and kills him. For Frank Costello Billy Costigan and Colin Sullivan were his legacy, as if they were his children, and for them he was their father figure. Despite having raised Sullivan for years, making him follow in his footsteps, Sullivan was weak, he gave in when Costello frightened him. Costello had recordings of conversations there, to be reported to the FBI. He trusted more than Costigan because Costello discovered his potential he thought he had known how to represent his philosophy, and more like him and bad. Costello gave him the recordings, which he still had after his death, and used them to let Madolyn discover the truth about Sullivan.


  • Originally Al Pacino was planned to play Frank Costello.
  • Originally, Jack Nicholson turned down his role in the movie, but after a meeting with Martin Scorsese, William Monahan, and Leonardo DiCaprio, he was finally convinced to play the role of Frank Costello. The main reason he joined the production was because he had previously done a few comedies, and wanted to play a villain again, and he considered the character of Costello to be the ultimate incarnation of evil.
  • The first teaming of Jack Nicholson and Martin Scorsese.
  • After Jack Nicholson joined the cast, his character was re-written to give him a bigger part.
  • Many scenes with Jack Nicholson were improvised. Nicholson was given the opportunity to do whatever he wanted to add to the character's unpredictability. The scene where Billy and Frank are talking was loosely scripted, and many surprises happened in it, including Frank pulling out the gun.
  • Frank Costello takes its name from the homonymous Italian-American gangster Frank Costello, a contemporary of Charles "Lucky" Luciano and Meyer Lansky in New York City.
  • He is based on the Irish mobster James "Whitey" Bulger and even shares a resemblance to Bulger, who was still on the run at the time.
  • He is ispired off of gangster Hon Sam from Infernal Affairs (2002).
  • Jack Nicholson was one of the three Oscar winners, along with Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon.
  • In the scene in a bar where Costello talks to the young Colin Sullivan, the time in his watch is evidently very different in two shots (when he takes the money from the bar owner and later when he hands Sullivan a bunch of coins). First it reads 2:50, then 2:58, and only one and a half minute has passed in the movie, as shown by Costello talking. Also, the watch in the second shot has no seconds hand, only hours and minutes.
  • When we see Frank Costello addresses young Colin in the auto shop, a shot from the back shows a cigarette in his mouth. In the next shot of him from the front, his cigarette is gone.
  • Costello's signature on the condolence card on Mrs. Costigan's coffin clearly changes appearance between the two successive shots.
  • Jack Nicholson's mug shot in the movie belongs to his Jocker role in Batman (1989), another Warner Bros. production.
  • When Sullivan calls Costello while he's at work, he calls him "Dad". This is to mask the fact that he is talking to Costello to others, but also because he has been his father for so long.
  • It was Jack Nicholson's idea to film the scene when Frank Costello attends the opera. It was also Nicholson's idea to have one black woman and one white woman in the scene with him.
  • Jack Nicholson refused to wear a Boston Red Sox hat during filming, and instead wore his New York Yankees hat.
  • Frank wears a Notre Dame Fighting Irish t-shirt. That's where Queenan says his son goes to school.
  • The taped recording of Costello and Sullivan that Madolyn listens to is from their conversation in the porn theater. However Costello's lines are different on the tape than they were in the theater. One example: While in the theater he says "It won't be me who suffers for it". Whereas on the tape you hear him say "It won't be me who pays for it".

See also[]


  1. "Look, you're 70 years old, Frank." Expressed by Billy Costigan to Frank Costello.
  2. The murder of Myles Kennefick takes place on September 19, 2006, making The Departed set in 2006. At one point in the film, during a meeting with Queenan and Dignam, Billy Costigan mentions that a year has passed, coming to 2007. In the Colin phone "Mar 16,06", or March 16, 2007 (2006, it is a plot error, as Kennefick died in September of this year). On this day the affair between the Chinese mob and Costello takes place. They pass six months, expressed by Billy, four from the Chinese deal. The events that follow take place day after day, and Frank Costello's death takes place seven days after the deal (16), making it July 23, 2007.
  3. "My mother called me Francis." Expressed by Costello to Captain Queenan.
  4. "And your father called you the tumor." Expressed by Captain Queenan to Costello.
  5. "I got kicked out, like, four months ago." Expressed by Billy Costigan to Aunt Kathy Costigan.
  6. "Like I said, two days ago my guy damn near found out who Costello's rat is. But he lost him in the streets." Expressed by Captain Queenan to Colin Sullivan.