Around this time in 2012, Starz debuted Magic City. Although the show ended prematurely (after just 16 episodes), it gave us one of the most diabolical villains in television history.
Ben Diamond, known simply as “The Butcher”, has all the makings of the perfect bad guy. But before we get into Ben Diamond, let’s first establish a little background about Magic City.
Set in the late 1950s, the show tells the story of Ike Evans, played by Walking Dead star Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Ike is the owner of the Miramar Playa, the most lavish hotel resort in Miami. Sometime before building the hotel, Ike gets into some money trouble.
In steps Ben Diamond, a notorious mobster on the outs in Cuba, who offers a chunk of change in exchange for a 49% stake in Ike’s hotel. With their silent partnership, Ike and Ben must find a way to work together behind the scenes for the sake of their financial futures.
While Ike is undoubtedly the central hero of the story, “The Butcher” (played flawlessly by Danny Huston) steals the show. He has all the makings of the wicked antihero that you love to hate.
Diamond is a psychopath, plain and simple. He will be your best friend, smoking cigars and playing cards with you one minute. The next, he’ll have you on the ground pushing a pistol against your forehead.
The thing about him, though, is he’s so unbelievably calm. He’s like a shark (the one from the intro), lurking beneath the surface. You do not want to piss him off because he will come after you. And, chances are, he’ll carve you like a turkey — with a steady hand and a devilish grin plastered across his face.
I have remarkably steady hands… I would have been a glorious surgeon had the educational opportunities afforded me. I can, with one single cut, remove a man’s entire face.
Like most TV psychos, Diamond’s violent nature can be traced back to his troubled childhood. He grew up dirt poor in a Philadelphia orphanage before getting hooked up with the Chicago mob. From a young age, he developed his reputation as a merciless cold-blooded killer, earning every bit of his frightening nickname.
Diamond has a loyal crew working below him — running card games, sports books, and more. He lives in a luxurious mansion with his beautiful wife and employs several butlers to take care of it all.
While Diamond’s underlings are loyal to him, he will turn on them in a second, without hesitation. If he suspects anyone even sniffing his money, he’ll find out about it.
But “The Butcher” doesn’t fit the typical movie mob boss archetype that we’re so used to seeing. He runs an empire from the seat of his pants, spending much of his time just floating around in his pool. Overall, he’s more of a Roman Emperor than a mafioso.
Diamond is extremely savvy, often two steps ahead of everyone around him. He can predict people’s actions weeks in advance and is always looking for ways to benefit from others. As a ruthless lifelong criminal, he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty.
Magic City ended well before its time. But, we may not have seen the end of Ben Diamond after all. As recently as this past December, there have been rumors of a feature film involving Bill Murray that would continue the story.
Who wouldn’t love to see that?