British actor Alan Rickman does not appear to be an evil man -- until you hear him speak. His silky, sinister voice has helped create some great screen villains who scare you because they sound completely cold-blooded, and a whole lot smarter than you. Here are his top five most nefarious evildoers:
5. Harry from Love Actually
Pretty much every character in this epic rom-com ensemble comes off as a hero in the end, except for droll office-drone Harry, who gives his foxy secretary a gold necklace for Christmas, while his devoted wife has to settle for a Joni Mitchell CD. Although we never learn how far Harry's betrayal extends, there is no doubt of his villainy as we watch Emma Thompson subtly and exquisitely portray the wife's devastation.
4. Judge Turpin from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
As the corrupt judge, Rickman throws Johnny Depp in jail on trumped-up charges, then proceeds to rape the barber's wife and steal their daughter. But his greatest act of evil may have been attempting to sing with that creepy, nasally voice.
3. Severus Snape from the Harry Potter films
Is Severus Snape, the former follower of Voldemort and current Potions Professor at Hogwarts, a good guy or a bad guy? J.K. Rowling keeps us guessing throughout the entire series. But no matter where Snape's true loyalties lie, Rickman's slimy portrayal of the character has all of us as terrified of him as poor Neville Longbottom.
2. The Sherriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
In sixth grade I had a math teacher who loved to keep the class in line by using Rickman's most famous threat from the film, "I'm going to cut your heart out with a spoon!" Why a spoon? "Because a spoon is dull! It would hurt more!" The fact that he puts this much thought into how to inflict the most pain on his enemies is what makes Nottingham an above-average villain in an otherwise so-so adaptation of the legendary tale.
1. Hans Gruber from Die Hard
Cold, calculating, and totally in control, Rickman's portrayal of German terrorist Hans Gruber set the standard for modern action-movie villains. The writers, directors, and actors of the Die Hard franchise were unable to top his bad-assery in its three subsequent installments. So were most of the other action movies made since then, too.
Which is your favorite Rickman villain? Or do you prefer the softer side he's showed in films like Sense and Sensibility? Have at it in the comments section.