Max Payne (voiced by James McCaffrey) is a fugitive DEA agent and former NYPD detective whose wife Michelle and newborn daughter were killed in connection with the Valkyr drug case. Max then goes undercover in the mob, and eventually becomes a one-man-army vigilante waging a personal war on crime (and in particular, those criminals responsible for his family's death). Max ends up killing hundreds of gangsters and conspiracy enforcers while on the run from the police determined on stopping his vendetta against all those responsible for his family's death. He uses metaphors and wordplay to describe the world around him within his inner monologues, which often contradict his external responses to characters he speaks with. The first game presents the story as retold by Max from his point of view.
Mona Sax (voiced by Julia Murney): The twin sister of Lisa Punchinello and a contract killer, Mona is the femme fatale of the game. She has a grudge against her sister Lisa's abusive husband, Mafia boss Angelo Punchinello, whom she desires to kill. After Puchinello is killed, she sides with Nicole Horne who hires her to kill Max. Finding herself unable to do so, she is shot in the head by Horne's henchmen and collapses into an elevator. She reappears in the sequel as a playable character.
Nicole Horne(voiced by Jane Gennaro): The game's main antagonist who led a secret military program code-named Valhalla. She had Michelle Payne killed after she viewed a document that shows that Horne is still producing the Valkyr drug despite the fact that the project was suspended. Horne commands a well-armed private army of hitmen and mercenaries. She is killed by Max at the end of the game.
Alfred Woden(voiced by John Randolph Jones): For most of the game he remains a mysterious unseen character, only interacting with Max through phone calls where he either warns him of a coming threat or provides information. Towards the end of the game he meets Max face-to-face and introduces him to an Illuminati-like society known as the Inner Circle. Woden tells Payne that Horne is his real enemy and expresses his wishes for Payne to get rid of her. He is seemingly gunned down by Horne's men while in a meeting with Max, but is later seen on a security terminal getting up off the ground and leaving his dead comrades. He reappears in the sequel as a U.S. senator.
Don Angelo Punchinello (voiced by Joe Ragno): An Italian mob boss who distributes Valkyr and become involved in a gang war against the Russians. He remains the main villain throughout most of the game until it was discovered that he was being controlled by Horne. He is later killed by her before he can give Max too much information.
Vinnie Gognitti(voiced by Joe Dallo): A high-strung mobster working for Lupino who is terrified that his boss will kill him due to Lupino's Valkyr-induced psychosis. Max confronts him to discover where he can find Lupino, but this encounter results in Payne shooting Gognitti in the gut and then pursuing him through the city's buildings and rooftops. When Max catches up with him he forces the information out of Gognitti and leaves him bleeding in an alley (in the 1998 trailer Vinnie was shown being summarily executed by Payne in a cut scene, but this was changed later along with an other tweaks to the story). He reappears in the sequel as a Mafia underboss.
Vladimir Lem(voiced by Dominic Hawksley): A Russian mob boss and prominent gunrunner currently in a war against Angelo Punchinello. He teams up with Max providing him with weapons in one part of the game and occasionally chauffering him around to key locations. He reappears in the sequel as a charismatic restauranteer who maintains his shady connections in organized crime. He is portrayed by Marko Saaresto of Poets of the Fall (a friend of the game's writer Sam Lake). The band also wrote the main theme, "Late Goodbye", for Max Payne 2.
Jack Lupino(voiced by Jeff Gurner): A Mafia underboss and an occultist, who oversees Valkyr distribution for the Punchinello crime syndicate. He has been driven crazy by his Valkyr addiction and has become a Satanist, obsessed with making a Faustian pact with the Devil (he also owns Necronomicon, a fictional book from the Cthulhu Mythos and Cthulhu is one of the deities he worships). When Max confronts him he is the middle of a Satanic prayer; a gun fight ensues and Lupino is killed by Payne.
B.B. Hensley(voiced by Adam Grupper): A corrupt DEA agent and a supposed friend of Max. Receiving pay outs from Horne, he radios Max telling him to meet agent Alex Balder at the train station and then shoots Balder dead, framing Max for his murder. Towards the end of the game he meets Max and is revealed as a traitor working for Horne. Payne kills him in a gun fight.
Deputy Chief Jim Bravura (voiced by Peter Appel): A high-ranking NYPD officer who is pursuing Max for most of the game and is not deterred in arresting him, even though the TV commentators don't see the violence as a bad thing because mobsters are the only victims. At the end he finally arrests Max, but in the game's sequel he becomes Max's boss.
Michelle Payne(voiced by Haviland Morris): Working for the district attorney�s office, Michelle came across a file that incriminated Horne, which later led to her murder and the killing of her child by Valkyr junkies sent to her home. She repeatedly appears through the game in flashback and nightmare sequences.