Roger Van Zant is the secondary antagonist of the epic 1995 crime-thriller film Heat.
He is a money launderer and legitimate businessman who was formerly the employer of Neil McCauley and his crew, but betrayed them when he attempted to have McCauley killed.
Roger Van Zant is a businessman who uses a legitimate business, Malibu Equity Investments, to handle investment portfolios for offshore money laundering and drug money. One of his armored cars carrying $1.6 million in bearer bonds is robbed by career criminal Neil McCauley and his crew.
Though covered by insurance, Van Zant seemingly agrees to an offer to buy back the stolen bearer bonds from McCauley, thereby profiting off the robbery. In reality, however, he plans to have McCauley killed at the meeting, as he does not want word to get out that it’s safe to rob him. This fails, however, and McCauley vows revenge against Van Zant.
Hiding in his office in fear for his life, Van Zant is approached by McCauley's rogue former crew member Waingro and the two form an alliance against McCauley. On Van Zant’s behalf, Waingro captures the wife of McCauley’s crew member Trejo, to force Trejo to betray the next heist, which Van Zant leaks to the police led by Lt. Vincent Hanna. This leads to the police ambushing the robbers as they leave the bank heist, resulting in a street shootout and the deaths of two of McCauley’s crewmates.
In the aftermath, suspecting betrayal by Trejo, McCauley slips into Trejo’s home but finds his wife dead and Trejo himself gravely injured and left for dead by Waingro. However, Trejo manages to implicate both Waingro and Van Zant. McCauley then shoots Trejo to end his suffering at his own request.
McCauley ends up confronting Van Zant at his home and demands to know where Waingro is. A shocked Van Zant insists he doesn’t know and McCauley shoots him to death.
Van Zant's death is later learned of by Hanna, who uses this opportunity to eventually kill McCauley just moments after the latter had killed Waingro upon locating him.
Roger Van Zant is a legitimate businessman and money launderer who is quite arrogant and egotistical, as proven when he betrays the deal with Neil McCauley. He is also majorly responsible for the ongoing events of the film when he partners with Waingro to eliminate McCauley, resulting in both of their deaths later on, but still succeeds to get him killed as they caused a lot of 'heat' onto McCauley.
- Despite having a fairly small role in terms of screentime, he plays a significant role in driving the action, as the heist of his armored car starts the film, and he later conspires with Waingro to tip off the police to McCauley’s next heist, which causes the street shootout which is a major sequence in the film.