These 50 Actors Played The Perfect Villain
The villain plays an important role in movies and television. The villains can be funny, ludicrous, sympathetic, or so horribly despicable in their actions that audiences love to hate them. However, a successful villain is incomplete without the right actor or actress to play the part. In many cases, the villain outshines the rest of the cast, regardless of whether they are likable or loathsome. Many actors play the villain so well that they have a hard time being accepted in other types of roles. Movies and television shows wouldn't be the same without the characters we all love to hate.
Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister)
Game of Thrones is an extremely popular television series. Cersei Lannister is considered one of the greatest villains of the series because of her complexity and ultimately cruel actions.
The role of Cersei is played by Leda Headey, and she brings an appropriately stone-cold performance as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. She received widespread acclaim for her role, and in addition, she received six Emmy nominations for her performance.
Michael Keaton (Beetlejuice)
Tim Burton's most memorable villain is the zany ghost Beetlejuice, brought to life by Michael Keaton. Beetlejuice is so eccentric, funny, gross, and ironically full of life that he steals every single scene he is in. He is the villain in the movie, but it's hard to dislike him because of how funny he is.
Keaton's performance as Beetlejuice is one of a kind and is utter perfection. Keaton didn't understand the movie at first and actually turned down the role several times, but it ended up being one of his favorite characters that he has portrayed. He was only on-screen for less than fifteen minutes, but he made ample use of every single second.
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal Lecter)
Mads Mikkelsen was the perfect choice for playing the villain Hannibal. He helps flesh out Lecter's character and backstory further in ways that the audience can actually find him sympathetic. In addition, Mikkelsen's measured way of speaking and the fine ability for controlled aggression makes him a viable choice for anyone looking to cast a baddie.
When asked about playing villains, "Why not? They have cool stuff! They say cool stuff! They're radical, in the sense that they're in love with their goal. They don't care so much about the means. That's something we all hope we could do. They skip morals. We wish we could do that, but we can't. That's why we're human."
Pam Ferris (Miss Trunchbull)
Roald Daul created the character, headmistress Miss Trunchbull, from the film Matilda. Pam Ferris played the role and was perfect for the part. Miss Trunchbull can be seen imprisoning kids in the dreaded Chokey to forcing Bruse Bogtrotter to eat an entire chocolate cake.
She brought an absurd, sweaty, and wicked charm as Trunchbull as she terrorized not just the school but the teachers as well. Miss Trunchbull commands the presence of any room she is in, both literally and figuratively, and audiences love to hate her.
Christoph Waltz (Hans Landa)
Inglourious Basterds is a war movie set in an alternative timeline during World War II and was directed by Quentin Tarantino. Christoph Waltz plays Hans Landa, a ruthless Nazi colonel who somehow steals every scene whenever he is onscreen.
What makes Landa that much more terrifying is that he believes he is in the right. His appearance adds more to Waltz's already chilling performance, which is considered his best role in a Tarantino movie.
Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge)
In Harry Potter, the role of Dolores Umbridge was perfectly cast by Imelda Staunton. Dolores Umbridge is a chilling and sinister figure because she hides her horrifying deeds behind a pink and fluffy mask of sweetness and a fondness for kittens.
Imelda captures the character perfectly, with her mask cracking when things do not go her way. Because of Imelda's fantastic performance, Dolores Umbridge is possibly the most disliked character in the entire Harry Potter franchise.
Joaquin Phoenix (Commodus)
Joaquin Phoenix earned his first Oscar nomination for his role as Commodus, son of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. Commodus is pure evil and murders his father to gain power. Phoenix's goal was to make this monster so deeply pathetic that it's often hard to decide between hating him or liking him.
It's almost impossible to imagine Joaquin Phoenix playing a character so simultaneously malevolent and incompetent. However, he often plays characters that you wouldn't think he would play; he has forged his own path.
Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton)
In the series Game of Thrones, Ramsey Bolton was played by Iwan Rheon. He is the bastard son of Roose Bolton, the Lord of the Dreadfort. Rheon received critical acclaim for his performance as the show's most brutal and hated villain.
When asked about what it was like having to film the assault scene, he replied, "That was horrible. Nobody wanted to be there. Nobody wants to do that, but if it's telling a story, then you have to tell it truthfully. They didn't sensationalize it or anything. It was very, very hard watching. It's a horrible thing that happens, and it was the worst day of my career."
Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal Lecter)
Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs is one of Anthony Hopkins' most famous roles. When it comes to infamous movie villains, there aren't many characters that measure up to the liver-eating, chianti-loving madman Hannibal Lecter.
Hopkins gives an incredible performance, winning the Academy Award for Best Actor. Throughout the entire movie, Hopkins only blinks one time on camera, and he does it very slowly and dramatically. Hopkins trained himself to be able to do that.
Willem Dafoe (Green Goblin)
Willem Dafoe played the infamous role of the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man movies. The Green Goblin is also known as Norman Osborn, a rich industrialist and the founder of Oscorp Technologies. Dafoe enjoyed the role because of the character's split personality.
He stated that playing Green Goblin was fun but that the more interesting role was that of Norman Osborn. It is one of Willem Dafoe's most iconic roles. He's able to contort his face with wild screams and seems to embody a true ghoul.
Stanley Tucci (George Harvey)
Stanley Tucci plays the role of George Harvey in the film The Lovely Bones. Harvey seems like a normal suburban neighbor, but he goes undetected as the rapist-murderer of fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon. Tucci's performance won him both critical acclaim and a Golden Globe nomination.
To become the character, he wore a wig, had his skin lightened, wore false teeth to alter his jawline, blue contact lenses, fake sideburns and mustache, and a lentil-filled fat suit that widened his girth. It is an emotionally powerful tale of loss and is Tucci's toughest character to date.
Christian Bale (Patrick Bateman)
Christian Bale played the role of wall street lunatic Patrick Bateman. He is so perfectly faithful to the character and stated that one of his key influences was his fellow actor Tom Cruise. The character is revealed to be a serial killer that preys on homeless people, prostitutes, work colleagues, and random members of the public.
Bale did struggle with getting in shape for this character and stated that he did three hours a day for six weeks with a personal trainer. In addition, he stated that he ate a lot during training and then almost nothing while filming.
Tobias Menzies (Black Jack Randall)
Black Jack Randall is the villain in Outlander, and his lack of feelings makes him terrifying because he doesn't care about others. Tobia Menzies plays the role of Black Jack Randall and the historian Frank Randall.
He does such a good job playing the misogynistic, narcissistic, and sadistic character of Black Jack that when he plays Frank Randall, the audience can barely look at him. Captain Black Jack Randall is one of the more well-written villains.
Anjelica Huston (Rodmilla)
Anjelica Huston plays the role of Rodmilla in the film Ever After: A Cinderella Story. She is the evil stepmother, the inspiration of Lady Tremaine from the Cinderella series based on the classical Cinderella fairytale.
Rodmilla is a heartless woman who forces Danielle to do all of the cooking and cleaning. Anjelica is an award-winning actress, and she played this part perfectly, just like her other roles.
Donald Sutherland (President Snow)
In the Hunger Games, Donald Sutherland plays the character President Coriolanus Snow. He is the chilling antagonist of the movie who inspires fear with nothing more than a whisper. Sutherland plays the part perfectly and even states that parts of President Snow are all him.
He said, "Any actor gives a character a little piece of DNA. You have a script, and you put it into the Petrie dish inside your belly, and out comes this fella. So, he's part me, and he's part the script."
David Tennant (Kilgrave)
David Tennant blew peoples' minds on Netflix as Kilgrave, the terrifying villain of Marvel's Jessica Jones. Tennant is so captivating as Kilgrave, partially because his general cadence is a calming one.
His character has the ability to make anyone in his presence do whatever he says, which makes him incredibly dangerous and unbelievably compelling. Tennant received critical praise for his performance as Kilgrave, and his character was included in Rolling Stone's list of the '40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time.'
Tilda Swinton (White Witch)
Tilda Swinton plays Jadis, the White Witch, in The Chronicles of Narnia. Tilda revels in her role and turns her character into a Nazi-like character determined to dominate. She wanted her character to be nothing like the traditional evil witch.
Her performance won acclaim among fans and critics. "As the cold-hearted White Witch, Tilda Swinton sets the tempo for this bracing adventure. She is a pristine picture of evil, like the spectre of War that forces the children out of London to the sanctuary of a country manor." ----- Stella Papamichael.
Jason Isaacs (Colonel Tavington)
Jason Isaac earned the revulsion of filmgoers and the respect of his peers for his performance in his role as Colonel Tavington in The Patriot. Issac is a multitalented actor, and he got his biggest international break when he played the villain Colonel Tavington.
Tavington is a Colonel in the British Army during the American Revolutionary War and is the commander of the Green Dragoons. His character is the resident villain whose pastimes included infanticide, rape, and church-burning.
Javier Bardem (Anton Chigurh)
Javier Bardem is terrific at quiet intensity and has the ability to monologue with the best of them. He portrayed the main Hollywood antagonist Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men.
Bardem holds himself in a way that is instantly terrifying, and his performance was widely lauded by film critics. His performance won him an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and a British Academy Film Award. In addition, his character made multiple Greatest Villain lists.
Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy)
Tom Felton is most known for playing the role of villain Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films. Interestingly enough, he actually auditioned for the Harry Potter role but ended up portraying the villain. Draco is the son of Lucius Malfoy and is a student at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
He has a rivalry with Harry Potter and was taught to look down on half-bloods and Muggle-borns. Felton became a household name and stated, "I'm very grateful I am in the film at all, but even more grateful that I got the character of Draco."
Rosamund Ike (Amy Dunne)
Rosamund Ike plays the role of Amy Dunne in the film Gone Girl. Amy is the main antagonist in the film and is the wife of Nick Dunne. She disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary, but it is discovered that Amy may not be the innocent victim that everyone thinks she is.
Ike stated that it was hard to get Gone Girl out of her system and go back to normal life. Her performance was widely acclaimed by critics and won her nominations for an Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress.
Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange)
Helena Bonham Carter proved that she does crazy better than just about any other female performer in Hollywood with her performance as Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter and the Hald-Blood Prince and the two Deathly Hallows films.
Carter certainly leaves her mark as the diabolically dark witch. She stated that she made her character a bit more insane and unhinged than she was meant to be because she wanted her to be conspicuous, savage, and both sexy and revolting. In addition, she stated that she went to wand school for about three weeks for her role.
Andrew Scott (Moriarty)
It has been said that Andrew Scott's Moriarty is the most memorable and greatest of them all. Andrew Scott first appeared on screen as Sherlock's arch-nemesis Moriarty, and his performance secured him a spot as a major character on the show for years.
He completely reinvented the character and turned him into a grinning, flirtatious maniac. Thanks to Andrew Scott, evil is the new sexy. Scott's performance won the 2012 BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and the IFTA Award for Actor in a Supporting Role.
Denzel Washington (Alonzo Harris)
Denzel Washington plays the role of Alonzo Harris in the film Training Day. Harris is an L.A.P.D. detective that uses very questionable methods of enforcing the law. Denzel has said several times that Alonzo is his favorite character that he has played.
Harris ranks as one of the greatest villains in cinema history, and the role won Denzel his second Oscar Award for Best Actor. It made him the second African-American actor to win the category.
J.K. Simmons (Vern Schillinger)
Vern Schillinger is the villain inmate in the HBO series Oz. He is prisoner #92s110, convicted of aggravated assault in the first degree, and is an ardent racist. The role is portrayed by J.K. Simmons, and it put Simmons on the map and is responsible for giving him his initial reputation as a terrifying bad guy. His performance will leave you haunted.
However, he was worried that the character's neo-Nazi background would pigeonhole him. He stated, "I was very cognizant of that when I did Oz because it was my first on-camera thing after being a theater actor for many years. I realized this character would have a real impact on my career, and I could end up playing the Nazi of the week on every TV show for the rest of my life."
Jack Gleeson (Joffrey)
Jack Gleeson played the role of Joffrey in Game of Thrones. Joffrey is one of the most hated characters in Game of Thrones because he gets away with everything, including torture, sexual assault, and murder.
Gleeson's character was so hated that any time he received any kind of payback like a slap or insult, it was among the show's most memorable moments. However, after Jack Gleeson completed his role as Joffrey, he retired from acting. He stated he just didn't enjoy it and wanted to do something else with his life.
Alfred Molina (Doctor Octopus)
Doctor Otto Gunther-Octavius is a central character in Spider-Man. He is turned into a villain by his own Mechanical Tentacles bearing the name Doctor Octopus. The villain was portrayed by Alfred Molina, whose work had brought him widespread acclaim.
In Spider-Man: No Way Home, he was digitally de-aged and praised for his performance. In this film, Molina makes a monumental comeback nearly two decades after appearing in Spider-Man 2.
Gary Oldman (Norman Stansfield)
Gary Oldman was evil personified in his role as Norman Stansfield in The Professional. He elevated his villainous art to an almost Pacino-Esque plane because he doesn't just steal the scenes he's in; he pillages them. His character is full of insane contradictions and idiosyncrasies.
Stansfield has been named as one of cinema's greatest villains and is described as "the role that launched a thousand villains." The film was critically well-received and Oldman's performance was especially praised.
Rebecca De Mornay (Peyton Flanders)
Rebecca De Mornay is responsible for making The Hand That Rocks The Cradle feel like a rollercoaster ride that slowly builds up the tension. She portrays Peyton Flanders perfectly while shooting the iciest of glares.
In addition, she is able to convey with her facial expressions even for the briefest of moments. Rebecca is praised for being so brilliant and so extremely good at going from angelic innocence to unspeakable malevolence in the blink of an eye.
Kathy Bates (Annie Wilkes)
Kathy Bates plays the twisted character, Annie Wilkes, in the film Misery. Wilkes is a nurse who takes care of her favorite author but is a psycho and has no plans to let Paul leave her home again.
Bates plays the deranged fiction lover to perfection and can be seen using an ax to cut off her victim's foot. Bates won an Acadamy Award for Best Actress for her performance and was the first actor to win for a Stephen King adaptation.
Alan Rickman (Hans Gruber)
Alan Rickman portrays the cunning thief and criminal mastermind Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Gruber has been cemented as one of the most iconic villains in film history and ranked as the greatest action movie villain of all time.
It is one of Rickman's most iconic roles because he personified the uber-mensch of sadistic humor. The success of the film was hugely due to Rickman's portrayal of the delightfully devious Gruber.
Colin Farrell (Bullseye)
In the film Daredevil, Colin Farrell proved that he could play a tough, charismatic villain who's hard to beat. He portrayed the villain Bullseye and further displayed his versatility as an actor. The film was the first to feature his natural Irish accent.
His character is an assassin who shoots and throws with perfect accuracy. When asked about playing the villain, he stated, "This was a chance for me to just check my sanity in at the door and just have a field day. Not worrying about anything past or future. Just worrying about being exactly in the now and dealing with that."
Michael Wincott (Top Dollar)
Michael Wincott plays the character Top Dollar in the film The Crow. He is most known for his deep and raspy voice and portrayal of various villainous characters. His character is a criminal that T-Bird's gang works for and the main antagonist.
Wincott shines with his extensive monologues and the eccentric delivery of his lines. In addition, he often ad-libbed lines on the spot, which were kept in the movie because of their lyrical and poetic quality.
Michael Shannon (General Zod)
Michael Shannon is one of the most talented actors, and he has left an unforgettable mark in every movie he's been in. Shannon played the character General Zod in the film Man of Steel.
He portrayed his character perfectly with his intimidating physical demeanor, intense gaze, and amazing acting abilities. Shannon highlights the worst in people, and to prepare for this role; he studied Terrence Stamp's take on Zod from the Christopher Reeves Superman movies.
Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring)
Giancarlo Esposito portrayed the character Gus Fringe in the popular series Breaking Bad. Esposito was chilling and terrific as Fring and received high praise for his performance. Esposito was nominated for an Emmy Award twice for his performance as Fringe and is best known for his role in Breaking Bad.
He has the amazing ability to bring morally questionable characters to life by giving them transparently human motivations while still maintaining an almost inhuman air of indifference.
Misha Collins (Paul Bernardo)
Misha Collins portrays Paul Bernardo in the film Karla. Collins plays a charming psychopath who is a wife-beater, a manipulative liar, a sadistic sexual predator, and the killer of three young women. Collins initially found the script unsettling and stated that playing a real-life character who has done such terrible things was emotionally draining.
"That's a lot of responsibility, to play the most hated person in the country. When we started shooting it, I wasn't aware of the extent to which this was still so vivid in the Canadian ming. I was surprised that the story caught fire so much down here of the film being made. But I don't feel I have anything to be ashamed of." ------ Misha Collins.
Michael Emerson (Benjamin Linus)
Michael Emerson portrays the character Benjamin Linus in the television series Lost. Linus uses monstrously violent methods to protect the island's secrets, which is chillingly offset by the character's awkward, neurotic, and cagey mannerisms.
Michael Emerson did such a great job of portraying his character that by the end of the show, the character was a fan favorite. His character was only supposed to be in a couple of episodes but ended up becoming a regular. Emerson received an Emmy Award nomination in the Outstanding Supporting Actor category and finally won the award in 2009.
John Lithgow (Arthur Mitchell)
John Lithgow portrays Arthur Mitchell in the television series Dexter. His character comes across as an upstanding citizen, but he is a serial killer with three decades of killing under his belt.
John Lithgow is the perfect person to play the character, and his performance was considered by many as one of the best on the show. In addition, he won several awards for his performance of the killer, including an Emmy and a Golden Globe.
Heath Ledger (Joker)
Heath Ledger played the villain Joker in the film The Dark Knight. It was his last acting job, and he used a method acting approach to get inside the evil villain's head. Ledger would stay late to perfect a scene, and he lived alone in a hotel room for a month where he'd practice the Joker's maniacal mannerisms.
He shocked and shined in this role and won a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. Tragically, Ledger died just six months before the film's release.
Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort)
Ralph Fiennes' performance as Lord Voldemort is magic. He has the presence of a man everybody fears on instinct, and Fiennes knows exactly the right way to chill the blood of fans. Lord Voldemort is the notorious and powerful Dark Wizard of Potterlandia.
Fiennes brings the right note of serpentine menace and cruelty to the malignant magician we love to hate. He is chilling both when he's whispering with gentle aggression or yelling in uncontrolled rage.
Charlize Theron (Ravenna)
Charlize Theron portrays Queen Ravenna in The Huntsman: Winter's War. Theron relished her time as the Evil Queen. "What I like about Ravenna is that she's a bit of an enigma. She's definitely being explored more as we go, but she's somebody who has come from circumstances where this life, and this way of treating people, would have been just normal."
"She wasn't given much choice. She's her own worst enemy. She's a person functioning with a tremendous amount of fear at her core." ----- Charlize Theron. Theron's performance was critically praised.
Jack Nicholson (Randle McMurphy)
Jack Nicholson portrays Randle McMurphy in the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. He embodies the respective heroic and antagonistic traits of his popular character. His performance of the free-spirited criminal is deeply human and chilling.
His performance won him honors from the National Board of Review, New York's Film Critics Circle, and a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award. It was his fifth Oscar nomination but his first win.
Tom Hardy (Bane)
Tom Hardy is possibly the most effective and impressive as a physical villain. He portrays Bane, a man who intimidates the hero with sheer bulk and power. Hardy plays the character with undeniable intensity, and his performance was praised.
Bane is the beneficiary of an experimental serum; he has superhuman strength and ingenious combat tactics and strategies. To get into shape for the role, Hardy did four training sessions every day and added more than thirty pounds of mass, muscle, and strength.
Angelina Jolie (Maleficent)
Angelina Jolie magnificently plays the role of Maleficent in the film Maleficent. She's frightening with her poison-green eyes and rimmed with a dark halo are unnervingly unblinking, but you just can't turn away.
Jolie stated that she has often felt misunderstood in her life, like Maleficent. Jolie's performance in the movie was repeatedly singled out for praise and also won her a Kid's Choice Award and several other nominations.
Idris Elba (Colin Evans)
Idris Elba stars as Colin Evans in the film No Good Deed. Evans is up for parole after serving time for killing a man and five women. He gets turned down for parole and murders the guards.
The movie wasn't a success, but Idris Elba was praised for his portrayal of the villain. Many thought that the movie wasn't worthy of Idris Elba's talent, but regardless, he put his all into the character and made the character chilling.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Malko)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje plays the role of Malko, a slave trader who captures Jorah Mormont and Tyrion in the series Game of Thrones. Malko isn't a huge character in the series, but Akinnuoye-Agbaje's performance stands out because he fearlessly handles the men and intimidates them without difficulty.
He is one of those actors that stands out in every movie he is in. His performance was highly praised because he puts everything he has into his characters, no matter how huge the characters are.
Tom Hiddleston (Loki)
Tom Hiddleston plays the character Loki in the movies Thor and The Avengers. Loki is the one truly great villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the credit for the success overwhelmingly owed to Tom Hiddleston's dazzling performance.
Loki is always in the shadow of his brother and has a real case of black sheep syndrome. The power of Hiddleston's hyena-grinning magnetism keeps you firmly on his wavelength.
Ben Mendelsohn (Nolan Sorrento)
Ben Mendelsohn very rarely appears as anything other than a villain, and it is no different in the film Ready Player One, where he plays Nolan Sorrento. His character is a ruthless tech company boss who is completely in charge and sure of his position.
Mendelsohn is a chilling presence, and he continues to embody his terrifying character. His performance was highly praised, and although he didn't win an award for this performance, he has won several awards for other villain roles he has played.
Tim Curry (Pennywise)
Pennywise is an evil clown and is probably the most frightening clown. The role was played by Tim Curry in the 1960 film It. Tim Curry's performance is perfectly unsettling and memorable and is highly praised.
He was able to make the clown scary instead of cheesy, as most clowns end up being. Pennywise takes the form of what you fear most, and a scarier clown has yet to be seen in pop culture.