Saturday, April 16, 2011

Actors Born to Play Villains

I'm no actor, although I have tried my hand at some stage play and immediately I figured that it is more fun to play villains. My role as the Kralahome in The King and I was probably not villainous enough to allow me to make such an assumption, but even at that, I had plenty of fun playing a character who's a bit of a jackhole. Too bad the audience didn't see it that way. A common complaint was that I didn't look the part.

I see their point...
It didn't hurt or made me angry at all. If anything, I got curious. What makes a good villain? It's not just the lines or the things they do. Oftentimes, it also depends entirely on the actor's charisma and to a certain extent, their looks. So here are some actors so good at playing villains I can't help but think that they have been genetically-engineered to play 'em.

#1 Willem Dafoe
I'm not going to lie to you. I think the dude is an amazing actor, but dear me, he's ugly as sin.

Even his friendliest smile still makes you feel like you're about to be raped...
However, don't take that as some sort of a shortcoming. The dude is very good at what he does. In recent memory, he's probably best remembered as The Green Goblin in the first Sam Raimi Spider-man movie. You can see from there that he can play a perfect gentleman, the father of Harry Osbourne (let's just assume he got his looks from his mother) only to convincingly make the transition to a villain.

#2 Alan Rickman
On the other end of the spectrum, you have Alan Rickman. If Willem Dafoe capitalises mostly on his looks to complement his villainous ways, Alan Rickman relies mostly on his distinctive nasal voice and a cold, steely stare.

Somewhere, a guy's balls just shrank and disappeared...
The thing is, I don't know if he'd get that reputation if it wasn't for the movie Die Hard [1988] where he played Hans Gruber. That was his American motion picture debut at the age of forty-two, and despite his extensive Shakespearean work, we can't shake the thought of him saying "Mr. Takagi won't be joining us for the rest of his life."

#3 James Cromwell
Here's a name you might not recognise, but his face is one you have seen plenty of times before.

No? Ever seen any of these movies; L.A Confidential [1997], The Green Mile [1999] or The Longest Yard [2005]? That should give you an idea of what kind of villain that he plays best. Not someone overly dramatic with an unhealthy taste for theatrics. But rather a more subtle and believable villain, the kind you might be able to relate to in real life. May it be your boss, a senior, or anyone you just want to punch in the face.

#4 Bob Gunton
Similar to James Cromwell up there, Bob Gunton is better known for playing assholes rather than villains in the traditional sense of the word.

Don't mind the hand gesture. It only looks weird because I had to crop the photo...
He too, has an extensive body of work but he ended up here on this list because of one movie and one movie alone; one of my all-time favourites, The Shawshank Redemption [1994] and Bob Gunton here played the villainous role of... surprise, surprise, a prison warden. Makes you wonder if all prison wardens are the actual criminals, of prison movies are any indication.

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