5 Awesome Film Villains
By Kyle Sutherland, Egwyl editor
Ok now listen up kids because this is an important lesson right here, ahem, villains are bad, don’t do what they do because it’s wrong, these are bad people we’re going to talk about here, understand? OK, as long as we’re clear on that here we go.
Villains are awesome.
Seriously I feel that it’s such a great skill for an actor to pull off a great villain simply because presumably, most actors are actually used to being normal, relatively likeable people. But I’m just a total fanboy for the baddies and wanted to share some of my top pics with you today, and here they are.
- Hans Gruber, (Alan Rickman), Die Hard, 1988.
The Die Hard franchise is a cornerstone of the action genre, delivering us three brilliant classics as well as a further two…films…we’ll just say they were definitely films and leave it there and one of the most memorable features In the series’ first instalment was its villain Hans Gruber portrayed by the late and irreplaceable Alan Rickman.
This is simply an example of when a character seems tailor made for the actor portraying them, Rickman is so on in this flick it’s unbelievable (we must remember this was 1988 before Alan Rickman became synonymous with great bad guys).
Rickman’s Gruber manages to accomplish the fine art of being both highly charismatic and also incredibly threatening, being able to switch immediately from sounding like a guy you’d have a pleasant chat with one moment, to one who’d happily kill you, your entire family, your dog, burn down your house and then dance on the ashes for good measure.
But it all comes down to Rickmans’ performance for me, I’m certain that in the hands of any other actor this was a performance that would of simply come off silly and cheesy, in short Hans Gruber alone was a common thief, it was Alan Rickman who made him an exceptional thief.
- Warden Samuel Norton, (Bob Gunton), The Shawshank Redemption, 1994.
Shawshank, the classic film based on the short story by Stephen (hey ma look at all the books I can write) King is on the top ten lists of many people (it’s actually my 12th but whatever).
It’s a story of injustice, wrongful imprisonment, defiance, the strength of the human spirit and well… redemption, but I feel a large part of the punch packed by this film comes in the slimy guise of Warden Norton.
This guy is just terrible, he’s a corrupt man, in a position of power who is willing to do anything to serve his own ends, including but not limited to, bribery, extortion, tax evasion, corruption of office, ordering savage beatings, turning a blind eye to rape and even murdering a young father and then taunting his friends about it.
What makes this character worse is the fact that he dresses it all up as if he’s doing a public service, all the while spouting bible verses as if he’s John the bloody Baptist, when in reality he’s Craig, Jesus’ cousin who likes to torture kittens and huff paint.
In summary I can honestly say this is one of the few characters, in any medium where I was happy when they blew their brains out.
- Commodus, (Joaquin Phoenix), Gladiator, 2000
Ok I’ve got one big question here, and I’m talking to you now Hollywood, how the hell did this man not win an Oscar for this role? I mean don’t even get me started on snubbing him for Walk The Line we’ll get to that in due time, but for now how did Joaquin (a name that my spell check somehow knows whilst not knowing Gunton, just saying) Phoenix not win for this portrayal?
It’s honestly a mystery to me because he Is just that damn good and I’m not just saying that the character of insane Roman emperor Commodus is well written (it is) by Phoenixs’ performance is just so on point.
He perfectly gives the impression, pretty much from the first moment we’re introduced to the character, before he’s even done any of the crazy shenanigans that come later, that this is an unhinged person. That’s what it means to really portray an erratic sociopath, look back at his scenes and you can see this character go from openness and friendly joy, to resentment, back to joy, anger, back to joy, rage, back to calm and that’s when he’s at his scariest when he’s calm and you honestly have no idea what he’s going to do next.
Commodus is a great villain and a scary villain because he feels real, he feels like a Caligula or a Nero, someone who has absolute power over everyone around them and absolutely no regard for whether you live or die, that’s why he gets my number 3 spot.
Side note was anyone else every time they read the word phoenix back there hearing it being screamed by Sylvester Stallone? Nope, just me? Well watch Demolition Man you luddites educate yourselves… Phoenix!!
- Jame Gumb aka Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), The Silence of the lambs, 1991.
Remember how I said Commodus was scary because he was somewhat believable? Well this is a character pulled straight from the case studies of real life serial killers, seriously we take a base of Ed Gein, add an undertone of Gary Heidnick, then a sprinkling to Ted Bundy and then we finish the whole thing off with a nice spoonful of crème fraiche, and just like that we have what nightmares are made of, enough to feed a family of five.
Now I know with this film a lot of people will be thinking Hannibal Lecter is the better villain but to that I give two points, first off Lecter isn’t that much of a threat, at least not to the main character of Clarice Starling, she even says he wouldn’t hurt her due to his good manners. Secondly although Anthony Hopkins gives a performance the likes of which only he can give, I’ve just always found Gumb to be scarier, because it’s believable that people like this exist because we know they do, Lecter’s a treat but he’s really more of a Bond villain.
- The Sheriff of Nottingham, (Alan Rickman), Robin Hood prince of thieves, 1991.
So uh yeah, Rickman’s back, but really can you ever have too much Alan Rickman? Not in my damn articles you can’t, hell this is his third mention in 3 days and I regret nothing.
So let’s talk about the movie, nah forget that this movie sucks let’s talk about the one great thing in it Alan Rickman, he is awesome here. Seriously ask anyone if they remember the Kevin Costner Robin Hood, or the Christian Slater Robin Hood and you’ll get mixed results, but everyone remembers the Alan Rickman Robin Hood movie, and why? Because he owned this film, he beat it down, took its dinner money and then sent it packing off to the kitchen to make him a sandwich, in short Rickman made this movie his bitch.
And (starting my sentence with an and to annoy my grammar Nazi editor), the main reason why is simply because this was his creation, Rickman turned this role down twice and only accepted when he was given complete creative control to do whatever he wanted with this character and the results are just perfect, a perfect mix of menace, humour, threat and just…just…Rickman, enough said.
thanks for reading!
Until next time…