01/26/2012 2:30PM

HBO's 'Luck' - Cast of characters, real-life inspirations

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Those hoping to get lucky in "Luck" include:

THE HIGH ROLLERS

THE BODYGUARD

THE WOMAN WITH A CAUSE

Chester Ace" Bernstein | Dustin Hoffman
Chester "Ace" Bernstein
Played by Dustin Hoffman
After three years in prison, Bernstein has big plans--revenge, buying Santa Anita, winning some big races with an expensive horse from Ireland.
Michael Smythe
Michael Gambon
A wealthy, win-at-any-cost businessman from England, who was a one-time partner of Ace Bernstein's.
Gus Demitriou
Dennis Farina
Gus and Ace go way back.  Gus will do anything for Ace, including fronting as owner of Bernstein's horse.
Claire LeChea
Joan Allen
She wants to help prisoners and retired horses; that's enough to get Ace's ear.
       
       

THE GANG THAT SOMETIMES SHOOTS STRAIGHT

Marcus
Kevin Dunn
He is confined to a wheelchair, has heart disease, and doesn't know where his next pick-six payoff is coming from.
Jerry
Jason Gedrick
Between the track and the card clubs, he needs one habit to support the other.
Lonnie
Ian Hart
For Lonnie, beating the races isn't enough. He wants to own a champion horse, too.
Renzo
Ritchie Coster
He lives on disability checks and what few wits he has.
       

THE RACE TRACKERS

 

 

Walter Smith
Nick Nolte
A trainer who knows horseflesh, "The old man" speaks softly, sometimes inaudibly, but can get tough when he needs to.
Turo Escalante
John Ortiz
A Peruvian trainer who wants to cash bets and win races, in that order.
Jo
Jill Hennessy
A veterinarian who lives with Escalante, and loves him in spite of himself.
Ronnie Jenkins
Gary Stevens
A jockey whose best days are behind him.  He's fighting the demons and doing the best he can.
 
Rosie
Kerry Condon
A jockey who needs a break, a big horse to escape from oblivion.
Leon Micheaux
Tom Payne
An apprentice rider with a weight problem.
Joey Rathburn
Richard Kind
A jockey agent with a stutter, an ex-wife, and not-so-thick skin.
 

As inspired by...

David Milch (center) in 2001 with jockey Jose Valdivia (left) and Julio Canani, trainer of the Milch-owned Val Royal and the inspiration for "Luck" character Turo Escalante.
Other character inspirations in the show include, from left, the late Charlie Whittingham, who is the basis for the Nick Nolte character Walter Smith; former trainer Jenine Sahadi, the Jill Hennessy character Jo; and jockey Pat Valenzuela, the Gary Stevens character Ronnie Jenkins.

[MORE: New drama reveals racing as Milch sees it | Andrew Beyer on "Luck"]