Actors always say that it’s more fun to play the villain than the hero, and we can totally see why. These nine actors have simultaneously terrified and entertained us for our movie enjoyment.
Inspired by Tom Hardy’s bad guy role in The Revenant — for which he’s nominated for Best Supporting Actor at this year’s Oscars — let’s take a look back at several actors who’ve visited their dark places and given some truly villainous performances.
Vertigo Films / Warner Bros. / 20th Century Fox
Everyone knows Hardy was main villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, as well as Leonardo DiCaprio’s betrayer John Fitzgerald in The Revenant, but did you know he once portrayed the “most violent prisoner in Britain,” Charles Bronson in Bronson? His performance as the notorious inmate is both horrifying and humorous.
Screen Gems / Netflix / Paramount Pictures
Elba played the narcissistic-yet-charming serial stalker and killer, Colin Evans, in No Good Deed. A year later, the actor played Commandant in Beasts of No Nation. His character turned young boys into child soldiers and raped them in the process. Later this year, he’ll play Krall, a villain in Star Trek Beyond, which we’re sure he’ll totally slay.
Warner Bros. / Michele K. Short/FX / Paramount Pictures
Before Lynch joined the American Horror Story squad as Twisty the Clown in Freak Show and real-life serial killer John Wayne Gacy in Hotel, he was Sheriff Bob Ryan in Gothika and Arthur Leigh Allen in Zodiac. His character in Gothika raped and murdered several people, and his Zodiac character was alluded to actually being the Zodiac Killer, who was never caught in real life.
Paramount Pictures / Columbia Pictures
Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men and Raoul Silva from the James Bond thriller, Skyfall, cemented Bardem in the fictional villain world. Chigurh’s stoic nature made for one hell of a sociopathic killer, while Silva’s charismatic, yet vengeful, nature made it hard to look away from the screen.
Universal Pictures / Warner Bros.
Before playing the Dark Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, Fiennes was Red Dragon’s Francis Dolarhyde, a serial killer who ripped Philip Seymour Hoffman’s lips off with his bare teeth and then set him on fire. But even worse than that, Fiennes portrayed real-life Nazi Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List, whose atrocities are so inhuman, I’m not going to list them here.
Miramax Films / Buena Vista Pictures
One of Rhames’s best-known roles is as Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction. Wallace is a gang boss who definitely doesn’t take shit from anyone. He supposedly threw a dude off a building because for giving his wife a foot massage. In Con Air, he played Nathan “Diamond Dog” Jones, both a plane hijacker and a violent murderer.
Disney/Marvel / HBO / Warner Bros.
A villain in Thor: The Dark World, Akinnuoye-Agbaje played Algrim/Kurse, who could overpower and hold his own in a fight against Thor. More recently, he played Malko in Season 5 of Game of Thrones, the captain of a slave ship who wanted to cut off Tyrion Lannister’s penis and kill him. Later this year, Akinnuoye-Agbaje will be Waylon Jones/Killer Croc in Suicide Squad, in which we just know he’ll be a kick-ass villain.
20th Century Fox / Warner Bros. / 20th Century Fox
In the ’80s movie Big Trouble in Little China, Leong’s character’s name was simply “Wing Kong Hatchet Man,” which you can imagine how nice of a guy he was. A year later, he played Endo, a man who helped torture Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. Plus, Leong was Uli, a Chinese terrorist, in Die Hard. Uli took hostages and didn’t eff around, well, until he was gunned down, of course.
Columbia Pictures / Peace Arch Entertainment / Warner Bros.
Armed with cornrows and a gangsta attitude, Leto’s character Junior in Panic Room has no problem with killing a mother and her child all to make a buck. Years later, he portrayed Mark David Chapman, aka the man who killed John Lennon, in Chapter 27. And, of course, he’s already scaring audiences (and fellow cast members) as the new Joker in Suicide Squad.