- "You can't understand the pain of betrayal until you've been betrayed."
- ―The Caller
The Caller is the main antagonist of Phone Booth.
He is a twisted, complex man who seems obsessed with justice, he uses a rifle to get people to admit their mistakes. He was portrayed by Kiefer Sutherland.
The Caller is a mysterious and elusive man who finds arrogant, corrupt or dishonest people and contacts them by phone, with the sole intention of making them tell the truth to the people they have wronged. One such person is a New York publicist named Stu Shepard, who is seeing a woman named Pam behind his wife Kelly's back, intending to have an affair with her. After calling Pam at his usual phone booth on the street, which just so happens to be the last one in New York City, the phone rings and Stu answers it. The Caller begins talking to Stu in a creepy manner, telling him not to exit the phone booth or else he will be shot with a sniper rifle. The Caller, already knowing Stu's name and all his details, calls Pam while Stu is listening in and tells her that Stu is not being honest with her. When she questions the stranger, he elaborates by telling her that Stu only ever calls her from a phone booth because his wife checks his mobile phone bills. The Caller then calls Kelly and informs her that Stu has something important to share with her, much to Stu's displeasure.
As Stu becomes increasingly uneasy, the Caller tells him that he had previously contacted other individuals who had been lying to others. One of these happened to be a pedophile and the other was a company insider who cashed out his stock options before the share price collapsed. The Caller had attempted to make them reveal the truth about themselves in a similar manner to Stu, but they both refused and were subsequently killed with the Caller's sniper rifle. Whilst talking, Stu is harassed by prostitutes who regularly use the phone booth. Knowing that he will die if he leaves the booth, Stu tells them to go away and makes them more and more frustrated. When their pimp, named Leon, asks Stu to leave the booth, Stu stubbornly refuses and Leon becomes aggressive. After smashing the booth's windows with a baseball bat and trying to drag Stu outside, the Caller tells Stu that it will count as a hang up. He then tells Stu that he can make Leon stop, then asks if Stu can hear him. When Stu says yes, the Caller thinks he is asking him to shoot Leon, which he does. Leon collapses dead and the prostitutes cry in panic, causing great alarm and making them believe Stu is the killer. The police arrive shortly afterwards and hold Stu at gunpoint, but begin to realise that Stu is either unable or simply unwilling to leave the booth. They ask Stu who he is speaking to on the phone, to which he replies his psychiatrist.
Stu discovers that the Caller had planted a gun inside the booth to make him appear as the killer, and very soon both Pam and Kelly arrive. The Caller tells Stu to confess to Kelly, which he agrees to, but is then threatened to choose one of the two women. Whichever one Stu chooses, the other will be killed. Eventually, Stu reveals the truth and says that his life is a lie, as he wanted to seem more important than he actually is. He then tells the Caller that he is being tracked and that the police are about to capture him, but the Caller replies that if he is caught then he will kill Kelly. An enraged Stu then leaves the booth with the planted gun in his hand and screams at the Caller to kill him instead and spare Pam and Kelly. Stu is then shot and collapses. Meanwhile, the police force track the Caller to a room which they ambush, finding a dead man inside.
Later, Stu awakens to find that it had been the police who shot him, not the Caller, and only with rubber bullets. Stu is then shown the corpse of the Caller, and Stu identifies the man as a pizza delivery man who had been sent earlier to deliver a pizza to him at the phone booth and Stu mistreated. As Stu receives medical treatment, a man with a large rifle case appears and tells Stu that he regreted having to kill the pizza delivery man, revealing him to be the Caller. As Stu looks on in astonishment, the Caller tells him that if his newfound honesty does not last, he will contact him again. The Caller then departs into the nearby crowd unnoticed, and Stu is unable to call out due to the medication he has just been given. The Caller glances at the destroyed phone booth as he passes by.
The Caller's strengths are numerous: he is well-prepared, relentlessly intimidating, careful, patient, and out of sight from the good guys. His choices of technology are well-suited and his choice of a target proves to be both worthy and entertaining. In essence, The Caller is much like a conscience or a voice of reason, but in this case, it's the aggressive militant kind. In another way, he's sort of like God, calling down from the heavens and demanding repentance. The Caller is also one of the few villains who actually wins.
- "At least now you'll die with a clean consience."
- "Stu, if you hang up, I will kill you."
- "Get this man a seat on Oprah."
- "That's it, the captain gets a bullet."
- "Stand up and be a man!"
- "TV seems to bring out the worst in people."
- (after cocking the bolt on his rifle) "Now doesn't that just torque your jaws? I love that. You know like in the movies just as the good guy is about to kill the bad guy, he cocks his gun. Now why didn't he have it cocked? Because that sound is scary. It's cool, isn't it?"
- "If this is true Stuart, then I have to take somebody with me don't I? And since Kelly is the most important thing in your life, I'll take her."
- "But beautiful women always know. That false indifference, superior air. It's just a tease. They want eyes on them. Why does she put on her make up? Do her hair? Dress so nicely? Not for her husband which she hardly ever sees, no, it's for somebody else to notice... I notice."
- "Wait till it goes national. ABC, CBS, CNN, UPN, you're gonna have the whole alphabet."
- "You are guilty of inhumanity to your fellow man."
- "Stu, don't do this. Please, come on. My sainted mother used to do this. She used to dish this out... Stu, please don't do this. Stu, you're bringing back my unhappy childhood. Stu, talk to me, please! Talk to me! I can't take it, Stu... Ahh! I'm kidding. I had a very happy childhood."