The Fan is a 1996 American psychological thriller film based on Peter Abrahams' 1995 novel of the same name, directed by Tony Scott, starring Robert De Niro, Wesley Snipes, Benicio del Toro, John Leguizamo, Patti D'Arbanville and Ellen Barkin.


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

Gil "Curly" Renard (Robert De Niro), a knife salesman, is a mentally unstable temperamental divorcé who has been neglecting both his young son and his job (which he is on the verge of losing due to poor sales). He has a fervent loyalty to his favorite sport, baseball, and his favorite team, the San Francisco Giants.

Gil is obsessed with the Giants' newest player, San Francisco native Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes), who has recently been acquired from the Atlanta Braves. He risks his job by attending the opening game of the season while he should be meeting a client. In an attempt to bond with his son, Gil takes him to the game, but he leaves him there to attend his sales meeting.

The extensively hyped Rayburn suffers a chest injury, causing his performance to decline. Fans criticize his inability to live up to their expectations. The frustrated Gil, who has finally been fired after he has threatened one of his would-be customers, begins to aggressively show his support, showing his anger to fans who jeer Rayburn.

Gil's ex-wife, Ellen (Patti D'Arbanville), is disgusted by his irresponsibility and tries to keep him from seeing their son. Gil is issued a restraining order. With his job and family lost, he angrily confronts his former boss and vandalizes his car with a knife, leaving it in the hood. Gil once again turns to baseball, the only thing he seems to have left.

Gil witnesses Rayburn fighting with teammate Juan Primo (Benicio del Toro) in the restroom of a bar, and blames Primo for his favorite player's slump. Gil confronts Primo in a hotel sauna and (provoked by Primo's dismissive attitude), he stabs him to death. Rayburn is subsequently suspected of murdering Primo.

Despite feeling guilty for his teammate's death, Rayburn starts playing well again and ends his slump. Gil (convinced that what he did was a service to Rayburn and the Giants) becomes even more personal with his fanaticism, especially when Rayburn doesn't thank his fans for supporting him. He goes to Rayburn's beach house and unexpectedly helps save the player's son from drowning.

After pretending to have only a passing interest in the sport, Gil persuades Rayburn to play a friendly game of catch on the beach. Rayburn says he stopped caring about the game after Primo's death because he felt there were more important things in life. He makes the mistake of telling Gil that he has lost respect for the fans, remarking on their fickle nature; when he's playing, they love him, but when he's not, they hate him.

Gil's temper rises as he almost hits Rayburn with a fast ball and launches into a diatribe. Rayburn is slightly disturbed especially when Gil takes off his jacket to reveal Rayburn's jersey underneath and wonders if Rayburn is happy that Primo's not around.

Rayburn discovers to his horror that Gil has kidnapped his son Sean (Brandon Hammond) and has fled in his Hummer as well as finding a piece of Primo's branded shoulder in his freezer.

Disillusioned with Rayburn's disrespect towards the fans, Gil spirals further into insanity. He acts as though Sean is his own son. He drives to see an old friend, Coop (Charles Hallahan), a catcher that Gil spoke often of playing baseball with in his past. Coop tries to help Sean escape, and reveals that the only time he and Gil ever played together was in Little League.

Gil then beats Coop to death with a baseball bat and takes Sean to a baseball field, hiding him there. He contacts Rayburn to make one demand: hit a home run in the upcoming game and dedicate it to Gil or he will kill his son.

With the police on high alert, Gil enters Candlestick Park in the midst of an on-and-off thunderstorm. Rayburn struggles with his emotions while at bat. After several pitches, he finally hits the ball deep into the outfield but not over the fence. Rayburn attempts to score an inside-the-park home run. He is called out, even though he is obviously safe. Rayburn argues with the umpire, who turns out to be Gil in disguise.

Rayburn knocks Gil to the ground. Dozens of cops swarm onto the field and confront Gil. Before the cops arrive, Gil kills another player, Lanz (John Kruk), who tries to tackle him.

Despite warnings from the police, Gil goes into an exaggerated pitching motion with a knife in hand. He asks Rayburn if he cares about baseball, but realizes he cares "just a little bit." Gil is shot dead as he is about to throw the knife.

Police discover Sean at the Little League baseball field where Gil played as a child. They uncover his obsession with Rayburn, as hundreds of newspaper clippings adorn the deranged fan's hideout. A picture on the wall shows Gil in his past glory, playing Little League Baseball and winning a game.


  • Robert De Niro as Gil "Curly" Renard
  • Wesley Snipes as Bobby Rayburn
  • Benicio del Toro as Juan Primo
  • John Leguizamo as Manny
  • Patti D'Arbanville as Ellen Renard
  • Ellen Barkin as Jewel Stern
  • Charles Hallahan as Coop
  • Andrew J. Ferchland as Richie Renard
  • Chris Mulkey as Tim
  • Brandon Hammond as Sean Rayburn
  • John Kruk as Lanz
  • Dan Butler as Garrity
  • Kurt Fuller as Bernie
  • Stanley DeSantis as Stoney
  • Don S. Davis as Stook
  • Michael Jace as Ticket Scalper
  • M.C. Gainey as Giants Fan
  • Aaron Neville as Himself
  • Jack Black as Radio Broadcast Technician


"The Fan" was filmed from October 24, 1995 to February 23, 1996.

The baseball scenes were filmed at Dodger Stadium, Coors Field, Candlestick Park and the Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Other filming locations included San Francisco and Anaheim, California.

In the novel, the character of Bobby Rayburn is white, but in the movie, he was portrayed by Wesley Snipes (who is African-American).

Cal Ripken Jr. was the personal batting instructor for Wesley Snipes during filming. Mike Sadek (who played for the San Francisco Giants) served as the body double for Robert De Niro in the scenes where he was throwing a baseball.

Box OfficeEdit

The movie opened at #4 at the box office, grossing $6,271,406 during its opening weekend, coming in behind films Tin Cup, Jack and A Time to Kill.

Domestically, it grossed $18,626,419.

Critical ReceptionEdit

"The Fan" received mixed to negative reviews from critics.

On Rotten Tomatoes, it was given a 38% approval rating based on 26 reviews.

Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle called the movie "hollow, predictible and too glitzy for its own good".

James Berardinelli from ReelViews said, "Aside from [Wesley] Snipes' well-tuned performance and a few clever scenes detailing superstar marketing, this picture is a veritable wasteland".

Stephen Holden from the New York Times praised De Niro's performance, saying he "burrows so deeply into the soul of Gil Renard, an unstable baseball nut whose life is coming apart, that you share his panic and helpless fury, even while loathing him for the emotionally stunted bully that he is".


1996 NCLR Bravo Awards

  • Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film: Benicio Del Toro (nominated)

1996 San Sebastián International Film Festival

  • Golden Seashell: Tony Scott (nominated)

1997 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards

  • Favorite Supporting Actress- Adventure\Drama: Ellen Barkin (won)

1997 MTV Movie Awards

  • Best Villain: Robert De Niro (nominated)

Theatrical TrailerEdit

The Fan (1996) Trailer

The Fan (1996) Trailer

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