I was watching Cliffhanger the other day (for about the 40th time) and (not for the first time) I thought about how good a bad guy John Lithgow can play. Cliffhanger, Raising Cain, the 4th season of Dexter…movies and shows seem to improve by at least eighty percent with him playing a bad guy in them.
Brad Dourif. Slam-dunk perfect casting as Grima Wormtongue.
Uhhh … do you mean bad guys who are really good beneath their evil exterior, or actors who play bad guys really well?
I don’t really like the show The Blacklist but I looooove to watch James Spader as “a type of” bad guy. He may not always be a villain per se but he is always an asshole!
Don’t forget Buckaroo Banzai.
Hands down, though, the winner is David Warner. How bad is he? I’m glad you asked. David Warner was in a movie with Malcolm McDowell (Alex from A Clockwork Orange) and McDowell had to be the good guy. As far as I’m concerned, that settles it.
I thought Alan Rickman owned this.
Ian McShane is wonderfully bad.
Christoph Waltz creeps me right the fuck out. He was the Nazi officer in Inglorious Basterds. I saw him host SNL. He did a good job, but I just couldn’t shake the creeps.
Willem Dafoe, obvy. Has he ever played a *good *guy?
Well, he did play Jesus once…
He owns the “Faux Affably Evil” trope in that movie.
“Oooh! That’s a Bingo!”
Gene Lockhart, who played the judge in * Miracle on 34th Street, * played lots of bad-guy roles.
Bette Davis played villainesses because, as she said, that was the most demanding role–required more acting ability than any other kind of character.
I bet Lionel Barrymore, Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life, never played a villain in any other movie; Capra cast him against type.
I hate 2015 more now, most of the great actors who passed away last year had an affinity and a knack for playing great villains even if they also played the hero on many occasions.
Have you seen Speed 2? His performance singlehandedly saves the entire movie. In the end I was rooting for his character to win over whiny Sandra Bullock’s character and the charmless not Keanu Reeves.
Same thing with Raul Julia in Street Fighter. Truly epic scenery chewing. This scene deserved a much better film:
Russell Crowe (he’s rather impressive in Virtuosity, though the film is otherwise not too remarkable. A pity that he hasn’t played more villains)
Peter Lorre and Robert Mitchum did bad good.
Boris Karloff, Lee Marvin, George Sanders.
My all-time champion:
Platoon and Clear & Present Danger.