Favourite Film Villains

Inspired by my friend’s blog, I’ve been wanting to start compiling various kinds of film lists here for a while now, but never quite got round to doing it. This one seemed like a fairly natural one for me to start with. In fact I’ve ended up with two lists. One is the actual favourite villain list which includes 9 characters. The other is a “special mentions” list, which includes 12 villains that I didn’t love enough to put into the main one, but which I wanted to mention anyway. I’ll post the second list once it’s ready.

People like to watch villains for different reasons (if they like to at all, that is, some people just aren’t predisposed to enjoy villains in that way). Personally, I love watching film villains because they don’t have conventional boundaries to what they can think, feel and do. So when an actor portrays a villain, they tend to have more freedom. What they do has to make sense within the story, but beyond that there are practically no rules to how a villain should feel or what they should think. And then, of course, they have the freedom to be nasty ;) They can say and think the most perverse things with practically no consequences to themselves because everyone knows it’s not real! And there’s another benefit - villains, by their very nature, are supposed to pose some sort of threat to the hero and “being threatening” usually means that memorable villains have very strong and intense screen presences, which I always find fun to see.

Anyway, my list is below. The order is completely random.

film: Don (2006)
performed by: Shahrukh Khan
clip: “Main Hoon Don” - promo video

Don is one of those boundlessly evil action movie villains, but one ends up sort of rooting for him anyway (unless one doesn’t, in which case the film loses a lot of its appeal ;-P). This is evil at its most glamorous and most cool ;)
Shahrukh clearly has a great time being this evil - it’s so obvious he’s having fun that one kind of ends up joining in with him *grin*

Darryl Van Horne
series: Eastwick (2009-2010)
performed by: Paul Gross
clip: Roxie meets Darryl Van Horne for the first time - clip

Darryl Van Horne is some sort of supernatural force of evil, but unfortunately they cancelled the show before we got a full idea of the extent of his evilness *sigh* He’s certainly the lewdest character on my list, however. He hits on most of the women he meets in the most obnoxious possible manner (including randomly taking his clothes off) and Paul Gross clearly had a lot of fun with that *grin*
He can be deceptively sweet and even vulnerable, but it’s extremely hard to make out how much of it is deception and how much of it is honest. It’s a lot of fun watching Paul Gross juggle all of that.

Draco Malfoy
film: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
performed by: Tom Felton
clip: “This is my moment” - fan video (spoiler warning!)

This is the most vulnerable villain on my list. He’s 16 years old and about to commit his first murder (using magic, but that’s beside the point ;-P). He’s fiercely proud to have been entrusted with such a task, but as he gets closer to completing it, it becomes apparent that he might not have the guts to actually go through with it.
By Tom Felton’s own admission Draco Malfoy is a blond, Nazi mini-Hitler (in wizarding terms), but he has a conscience and he’s scared shitless by what he’s about to do. And that’s really why this particular performance is so much fun to watch. It’s very angsty, intense and has so many different levels. And Tom Felton is bloody awesome.

Judge Turpin
film: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
performed by: Alan Rickman
clip: “Ladies in Their Sensitivities” - song clip

I suppose this is not the Alan Rickman villain that most people would choose, but Judge Turpin sure works for me ;-P At first glance he seems like just another perverse villain with no conscience, but on occasion he slips… says just that little bit too much.
It’s that slight sense of doubt and vulnerability in Judge Turpin that does it for me. He may be perverse, but he has doubts about himself and even some guilty feelings. I love how Alan Rickman plays that out - it’s very subtle, but it’s constantly there. And anyway, who doesn’t love a singing villain? ;) (obviously I must have a thing for singing villains cause there are about three singing ones on this list ;-P)

The Joker
film: The Dark Knight (2008)
performed by: Heath Ledger
clip: Second Scar Story - clip

Probably the most universally acknowledged villain on my list. I loved how they wrote the Joker as a terrorist. Coupled with the intensity and humour of Heath Ledger’s performance it’s special.

Tom Marvolo Riddle
film: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
performed by: Christian Coulson
clip: Final confrontation - clip (spoiler warning!)

Yet another 16 year old villain, but this one is far from vulnerable. When we meet Tom Riddle the first time, he seems nothing more than a polite, public school boy. There is a peculiar sort of restraint about him, but until the finale that is all that clues us in on how dark he actually is.
I loved how Christian Coulson played it out. This is evil at its purest and yet it’s so beautifully and believably hidden. One rarely sees portrayals like that - characters which are so utterly and completely evil and yet so subtle about it. In fact, Coulson was the only of the four or so Voldemorts we’ve had who took that approach. He’s also by far my favourite.

film: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
     voiced by: Tony Jay
clip: “Hellfire” - song

Frollo is the only animated character on my list. I’ve seen many people on-line declare him the best ever Disney villain and I totally agree.
I think the reason I respond to him so much (apart from Tony Jay’s voice which is amazing) is the whole Catholic aspect of him and how he explains away his hypocrisy and sin (and most importantly - he sings ;)).

Dolores Umbridge
film: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
performed by: Imelda Staunton
clip: Harry’s detention with Umbridge - clip

Dolores Umbridge has the distinction of being the only female villain on my list. I find that most female villains fall into two groups - fairytale witches or very attractive ladies that use sex as one of their weapons. Dolores Umbridge is neither *grin*
She’s an obnoxious woman that never wears anything but pink, decorates her office in kitten patterns and makes teenage boys write lines in their own blood. Imelda Staunton is absolutely brilliant - hilarious, but very chilling.

The Sheriff of Nottingham
film: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
performed by: Alan Rickman
clip: “And call off Christmas!” - clip

Alan Rickman is the only actor, who made my list twice, which seems kind of appropriate as it’s a villain list and all. The Sheriff of Nottingham is a very hammy and vaudeville kind of villain, but he seems quite universally acknowledged as one of those villains that completely upstage the hero.
I think for me it’s largely the humour of it that does it. Alan Rickman has a very sarcastic and ironic sense of humour and this part is right up his sleeve in that sense. But also, he really plays it full on. I had a giggling fit when I listened to one of the interviews he gave at the time. He was totally denying that the Sheriff of Nottingham is a villain. In his eyes the character was just a man who has certain goals in life and tries to follow them through. Robin Hood thinks that wrong, but that’s Robin Hood’s problem ;) This generally seems to be the approach that Alan Rickman takes when he plays “villains” and I think that’s a large reason he works so well in them. In his mind the acts he’s committing on screen are only evil if the character thinks they are. While Judge Turpin might have had doubts about some of his actions, the Sheriff of Nottingham had none whatsoever despite arguably going much further - and that’s what’s so much fun about this part *grin*

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