Top 50 Great Actors Who Have Played Iconic Villains In Movies



Movies often showcase a diverse range of characters, but the most memorable ones are typically the protagonists and antagonists. While antagonists are the obstacles that heroes must overcome on their path to success and fame, they also add depth and complexity to the movies they inhabit.


Over the years, the portrayal of villains in mainstream cinema has evolved to reflect changing audience interests. Filmmakers have created multidimensional characters from various backgrounds, avoiding one-dimensional stereotypes. Despite our tendency to root against them, more and more actors are embracing the opportunity to play ruthless villains.


As a result, the role of the antagonist has become more captivating than that of the hero. Therefore, it’s thrilling to watch them bring to life clever and cunning characters who will stop at nothing to achieve their nefarious goals.


That being said, some of the greatest screen performers have played morally ambiguous and unpredictable characters that are almost uncomfortable to watch on screen, contrasting with their off-screen personas. It’s exhilarating to see them fully embody their roles, bringing their flawed and complex antagonists to life.


So, we should thank these talented artists for their incredible performances and for making us believe in the antagonist’s power. Note: We are only including performances from movies in this piece.




1. Henry Fonda (Once Upon a Time in the West)


Henry Fonda (Once Upon a Time in the West)


Henry Fonda is a well-known Hollywood actor who became famous for portraying characters that represented justice and sympathy. He played the role of Juror #8 in 12 Angry Men, Gil Carter in The Ox-Bow Incident, and Tom Joad in John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath.


Many people believe that his real-life personality was also influenced by these characters. However, he delivered one of the greatest performances of his career by playing the role of Frank, a ruthless and cold-blooded hired gun in Sergio Leone’s classic film Once Upon a Time in the West.


Despite his previous roles, Fonda displayed his range by playing an unforgettable antagonist with ease and precision.




2. Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)


Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)


Heath Ledger was a young 29-year-old actor when he played the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. He had previously been known for his heartthrob roles, but in this movie, he had a task at hand to revamp his image in the most unimaginable way possible.


However, with his unbelievable portrayal of the Joker, Ledger stunned everyone and established himself as an incredible character actor. For bringing Batman’s most notorious enemy to life, the actor won a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.


Therefore, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to stress that the Joker is one of the greatest screen villains in modern cinema, and Ledger’s performance is unquestionably one of the greatest of all time.




3. Jack Nicholson (The Shining)


Jack Nicholson (The Shining)


The Shining is widely considered one of the greatest horror movies ever made, owing to its numerous terrifying sequences. However, the standout element of the movie is Jack Nicholson’s outstanding performance as Jack Torrance, which takes the storytelling to a whole new level.


Torrance is portrayed as a man who is battling an extreme case of cabin fever, and his character undergoes a drastic transformation from a quiet and vulnerable individual to a depraved killer.


As the spirits of the hotel start to influence him, Torrance’s fragile psychology is exploited, and he turns into an unimaginably volatile person. Despite having played many fun, flamboyant, and complex characters throughout his career, Nicholson’s portrayal of Jack Torrance leaves a lasting impression on the audience.




4. Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)


Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)


Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of Arthur Fleck is that of a troubled middle-aged man who manages to make a living by playing the role of a jubilant joker at gatherings attended by children.


However, he soon transforms into a rebel who incites a rebellion in the city with his actions. Phoenix’s performance brings the character to life with great audacity and pleasure. His facial expressions and mannerisms perfectly convey the vibe of someone who is trapped in an inescapable mess, and this helps the viewers sympathize with his character despite his questionable actions.


It is safe to say that among Joaquin’s many outstanding screen performances, his portrayal of the Joker is certain to shine bright like a diamond.



5. Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)


Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)


Many people who have watched the movie No Country for Old Men have found it incredibly difficult to believe that the actor who played the villain in the movie was the leading star of Woody Allen’s romantic comedy-drama, Vicky Cristina Barcelona.


Javier Bardem’s performance as the psychopathic killer Anton Chigurh was outstanding. He portrayed the character with such rawness and realism that it was called the “Most Realistic Depiction of a Psychopath” by an independent group of psychologists in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.


Chigurh dispassionately murders almost every rival, bystander and even employer who comes in his way, which establishes him as one of the most memorable antagonists in cinema history. Bardem’s role in No Country for Old Men ended up earning him an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA, respectively.


Anton Chigurh is one of his most celebrated roles, and he set the bar too high with his performance.



6. Charlize Theron (Monster)


Charlize Theron (Monster)


In the critically acclaimed movie Monster, Charlize Theron delivers the finest performance of her career by portraying Aileen Wuornos, a homeless woman who turns to street prostitution to make ends meet.


Unfortunately, no one offers her help to turn her life around. As a result, she resorts to robbing and killing her clients. Theron’s portrayal of the character is outstanding. She gained between twenty-five to thirty pounds for the role and allowed make-up artist Toni G to transform her appearance.


Seeing her go through the ups and downs in the story is unforgettable, to say the least.



7. Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs)


Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs)


In the classic crime drama The Silence of the Lambs, screen legend Anthony Hopkins plays one of the greatest villains of all time. He portrays the character of cannibal killer Hannibal Lecter, who is known for his intelligence and manipulative nature.


The story follows an ambitious F. B. I. trainee, Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster), as she searches for a missing woman before she is killed and skinned by a psychopathic murderer.


Despite Hopkins’ brief appearance in the drama for just over 16 minutes, he leaves a lasting impact worthy of an Oscar win. One of the most iconic scenes in the film is the conversation between Hopkins’ character and Foster’s character in the prison cell.



8. Anthony Perkins (Psycho)


Anthony Perkins (Psycho)


It’s surprising to think that Anthony Perkins, who played the romantic lead in movies with Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, and Shirley MacLaine, is best known for his role in Psycho.


Fans of movies know that Perkins cemented his place in history after playing Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense thriller. The actor went on to become an influential figure in horror movies and pop culture after his unforgettable performance in the classic film.


Perkins was originally seen as a sensitive, good-looking actor in the vein of James Dean, which is why his portrayal of a disturbed character in Psycho was shocking for audiences.


It’s also important to note that his performance gave insight into how past traumas and complicated relationships with parents can lead to monstrous behaviour.



9. Barbara Stanwyck (Double Indemnity)


Barbara Stanwyck (Double Indemnity)


Barbara Stanwyck was a popular actress in the 1940s. She was known for playing good girl characters in movies. However, in Billy Wilder’s 1944 noir Double Indemnity, she surprised everyone by playing the villain.


This was a departure from her usual roles, but it worked wonders for her career. In the movie, Stanwyck’s character is not only shrewd but also challenges traditional ideas about femininity.


Her performance showcased her range as an actress and redefined how evil temptresses were portrayed in films. Over time, the character has been seen as a perfect depiction of what might push a woman towards violence to experience the freedom that laidback men take for granted.



10. Alan Rickman (The Harry Potter Franchise)


Alan Rickman (The Harry Potter Franchise)


Alan Rickman’s remarkable screen career saw him playing many notable villains. However, the role that brought him unprecedented fame across the globe was his portrayal of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series.


Throughout the series, it was believed that this character was the main villain of the saga. However, towards the end of the franchise, the audience discovers a massive secret about him that changes the way Snape is perceived.


Seeing the hair wizard of Blow Dry making a stark impression as a seemingly dreadful professor at Hogwarts was a change that not many of us were expecting. Needless to say, casting the warm gentleman as Severus Snape was a masterstroke.



11. Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained)


Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained)


Calvin Candie is a terrifying villain who doesn’t need heavy weapons to prove his point. He represents the worst of humanity as he owns slaves and doesn’t believe in freedom.


He feels that his actions are justified, and his unchecked power, combined with his privileged upbringing, has turned him into a devil in human form. Quentin Tarantino and Leonardo DiCaprio bring this despicable character to life with great skill, leaving viewers in awe.


Calvin is everything a human being shouldn’t be, and credit must be given to the “Titanic” superstar for delivering an exceptional performance that makes Django Unchained even more captivating.



12. James Cagney (White Heat)


James Cagney (White Heat)


James Cagney became a famous Hollywood actor by playing many unforgettable characters in several iconic crime movies. One such film was Raoul Walsh’s White Heat (1949), which helped bring Cagney back to Warner Bros. after a long hiatus due to contract disputes.


Cagney’s return was impressive, as he played the role of the psychopathic and unpredictable criminal leader, Cody Jarrett. His performance allowed him to showcase his explosive energy and inhuman nature, making him one of the most violent and dangerous villains in cinema at that time.


His charisma played a significant role in ensuring that Jarrett was seen as one of the most dangerous bad guys in movie history.



13. Gloria Swanson (Sunset Boulevard)


Gloria Swanson (Sunset Boulevard)


Movie enthusiasts from all over the world consider Sunset Boulevard to be one of the best films ever made about Hollywood. One of the reasons for this is director Billy Wilder’s wise decision to cast former silent film star Gloria Swanson in the lead role of Norma Desmond.


Swanson played her character perfectly, portraying her as both delusional and self-absorbed. Because Desmond’s prime was in the past, just like Swanson’s, audiences could relate to her character’s struggles in the film.


Swanson, who was known for playing charming, comedic, and romantic leads during the silent era, delivered a stunning performance in this Billy Wilder directorial venture, bringing Desmond’s emotional complexities to life on the screen.


While not exactly villainous, it is a character that showcases what delusion and fame can do to people.



14. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)


Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)


A thriller that is based on the union of a supposed psychopath and a supposed sociopath, and one which focuses on the vindication of one at the expense of the other, would certainly make for an engaging viewing on screen.


That’s precisely what happens with David Fincher’s Gone Girl, which thrives on the memorable leading performance by Rosamund Pike. Indeed, the story belongs to the brilliant actress who firmly roots this feature and takes away all the honours for her rousing portrayal.


Her character play of an emotionally-laden wife, who decides to chart out her path in her devious manner, is worthy of topmost acclaim and honours. It also proves how a remarkable central performance can handsomely uplift a film.



15. Christian Bale (American Psycho)


Christian Bale (American Psycho)


In the cult film American Psycho, Christian Bale portrays the character of Patrick Bateman, a 27-year-old investment banker on Wall Street who is also the villain and protagonist of the movie.


Initially, Bateman appears to be a narcissistic person who lacks empathy for others. However, as the film progresses, we come to know that he is a deranged killer who enjoys going on a killing spree.


Bale’s acting skills are so good in this movie that it blurs the line between fiction and reality, making you question the film’s ending. As the movie concludes, we see that Bateman is the perfect embodiment of yuppie greed and is possibly battling with his own madness.



16. Kathy Bates (Misery)


Kathy Bates (Misery)


Kathy Bates is known for her playful and highly emotional personality, which often reflects in the characters she portrays on screen. However, her role as Annie Wilkes in Misery stands out as one of her most memorable performances.


Initially, Annie appears to be a kind and caring person, but as the story unfolds, we discover her true nature. She becomes obsessed with a novel and is willing to go to great lengths, including murder, to ensure that the ending is changed to her liking.



17. Denzel Washington (Training Day)


Denzel Washington (Training Day)


Training Day holds a special place in Denzel Washington’s filmography because it is one of the rare times he played a villain. He portrays Alonzo Harris, a corrupt commanding officer who gradually becomes the antagonist of the movie.


Eventually, Ethan Hawke’s character, Jake Hoyt, exposes him as the corrupt cop he truly is. Washington’s portrayal of Alonzo is impressive, showcasing his versatility as an actor. It is a testament to the fact that Black actors can play more than just stereotypical roles such as gangsters, drug dealers, or criminals in mainstream cinema.


Through his character, Washington highlights the depth of our diverse world and emphasizes that evil exists in all shapes, sizes, and colours.



18. Brad Pitt (Fight Club)


Brad Pitt (Fight Club)


David Fincher’s film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club played a significant role in establishing Brad Pitt as a star of the screen. Although it received mixed reviews upon its theatrical release, the controversial and thought-provoking movie has since become a cult classic.


In the story, Pitt portrays the enigmatic and complex character of Tyler Durden, an alpha male who does as he pleases without regard for others. This role was a departure from his usual charismatic, good-natured hero type and is a testament to his acting talent.



19. Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange)


Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange)


Many people have not recognized the acting talent of Malcolm McDowell. However, the actor received critical acclaim for his portrayal of a disabled lover in The Raging Moon. He also made a memorable impression as a psychopathic delinquent in the film A Clockwork Orange.


The movie shows him as a character who is imprisoned for murder and rape. Later, he volunteers for an experimental therapy conducted by the government to reduce his sentence. Unfortunately, the therapy goes wrong and sets the tone for the rest of the story.



20. Hugh Jackman (Prisoners)


Hugh Jackman (Prisoners)


Director Denis Villeneuve has an impressive filmography that includes projects such as Prisoners, Enemy, Arrival, Sicario, and my personal favourite, Incendies. Although Enemy is an underrated gem, Prisoners was snubbed at the Oscars despite receiving critical acclaim.


Starring the outstanding Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, this drama masterfully blurs the lines between right and wrong. We see Jackman in the role of Keller Dover, who takes matters into his own hands and embarks on a brutal investigation that lacks any semblance of humanity.


Keller’s choices are entirely immoral, and Jackman portrays them with exceptional clarity. Initially thought to be too macho for the role, the Wolverine actor sinks his teeth into the character and captivates the audience with his infectious ‘dramatic’ energy.



21. Tom Hanks (Road to Perdition)


Tom Hanks (Road to Perdition)


Tom Hanks, one of the most celebrated actors in Hollywood history, played a character with complex shades in the critically acclaimed Sam Mendes directorial venture, Road to Perdition. He set aside his image of being the nicest man in cinema to portray Michael Sullivan Sr., a hitman employed by an Irish mob boss during the Great Depression.


Despite being a morally complex and conflicted character, Tom’s portrayal of Sullivan is not one-dimensional and never comes across as a typical villain. Moreover, the character’s endearing bond with his son makes us empathize with him and even relate to him.


It is worth noting that, as an actor, Tom is primarily associated with playing affable guys and, yet, he manages to bring Sullivan to life tremendously.



22. Robin Williams (One Hour Photo)


Robin Williams (One Hour Photo)


Robin Williams was well-known for his exceptional performances on screen, but he decided to challenge himself by taking on more dramatic and dark roles in the early 2000s. As a result, the psychological thriller One Hour Photo was produced in 2002.


Williams played the role of an obsessive stalker who relentlessly followed a family that he had been photographing for some time. His character is not only complex, but also extremely disturbing and haunting.


Williams brought the character to life with such confidence that it’s hard to believe he’s best known for his comedic brilliance.



23. Ralph Fiennes (The Harry Potter Franchise)


Ralph Fiennes (The Harry Potter Franchise)


Ralph Fiennes gained worldwide fame for his amazing portrayal of Lord Voldemort in the beloved Harry Potter franchise. He brought the character to life with near perfection, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the character today.


Voldemort is described as an ugly being who doesn’t look human at all and is Harry Potter’s biggest enemy. Ralph does full justice to his character, and his performance is impressive, to say the least.


The star of Schindler’s List embodies strength and simmering rage so well that you can’t help but despise him.



24. Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)


Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)


One of the standout characters in Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic Inglourious Basterds is Hans Landa, portrayed by Christoph Waltz. Despite the film featuring many great actors and characters, it is Waltz’s performance that truly stands out.


His portrayal of Landa is a masterclass in quiet menace, elevating the story to a whole new level. Waltz, a German-Austrian actor who also played an empathetic and helpful character in Tarantino’s Django Unchained, showcases his exceptional talent by delivering a performance that is a masterclass in tension-building.


As viewers, we feel intimidated when we see the ruthless and cunning Nazi officer interrogating the dairy farmer at the beginning of the story and Diane Kruger’s Bridget Von Hammersmark towards the end.



25. Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)


Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)


Jake Gyllenhaal gave an outstanding performance in the thrilling movie Nightcrawler. The plot follows a con man who is desperate for employment, so he decides to become a photojournalist. He starts selling raw footage of sensational and violent stories in Los Angeles to a news director named Lina.


As he discovers gripping stories, he becomes more and more hungry for more and does everything he can to stay ahead of the competition. The dark thriller offers excellent storytelling and brilliant world-building of the crime scene in L.A. and Gyllenhaal’s captivating performance is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.



26. Steve Carell (The Foxcatcher)


Steve Carell (The Foxcatcher)


Steve Carell’s acting skills are undeniable. He can effortlessly portray Michael Scott as well as negative characters in mainstream hits. In 2014, he starred in The Foxcatcher which revealed his ability to play an evil character.


His portrayal of John du Pont was so brilliant that it is credited with giving his career a more multifaceted turn. In the movie, Carell played the role of John du Pont – a wrestling-obsessed millionaire who shot dead Dave Schultz, the coach of the United States Olympic wrestling team that Du Pont had set up in 1996.


Known for his nice guy roles and goofy comic turns, Carell’s portrayal of the man to despise in the outstanding sports drama The Foxcatcher marked a new development in his profile.



27. Samuel L. Jackson (Unbreakable)


Samuel L. Jackson (Unbreakable)


Samuel L. Jackson is often considered one of the best and highest-earning mainstream actors in the world. His performance as the villainous Mr. Glass in the underrated superhero movie Unbreakable only reinforces this claim.


In this quiet superhero drama featuring Bruce Willis and Jackson, the latter plays an antagonist who not only wins but also sets the precedent for future superhero movies. In many ways, Jackson’s Mr. Glass exemplifies the idea of villains being inversions of their heroes. The actor’s performance is truly electrifying in this role.



28. Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street)


Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street)


Robert Englund is an actor who became an icon of the horror genre for his portrayal of the serial killer Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street film series.


However, it is important to note that Englund has also played a variety of characters in different genres of movies. Krueger is a twisted and sadistic character with a sardonic sense of humor, always on the hunt for his next victim.


Despite the popularity of his character, Englund has had no trouble playing other roles in various projects.



29. Julie Andrews (Victor/Victoria)


Julie Andrews (Victor/Victoria)


Julie Andrews is a well-known actress and singer who is most famous for her roles in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. However, her true talent as a performer was showcased in the film Victor/Victoria, where she played the lead character who pretends to be a man impersonating a woman.


This earned her an Academy Award nomination and highlighted her range as an actor. Although her character in the film is not necessarily a villain, she is capable of duplicity and impersonating others.



30. Kurt Russell (Death Proof)


Kurt Russell (Death Proof)


In Quentin Tarantino’s overlooked exploitation thriller Death Proof, Kurt Russell plays the role of Stuntman Mike, who takes pleasure in killing young women with his car. Despite his fancy appearance, he comes across as a devilish character whose darker side occasionally surfaces.


The film’s dark humour and action sequences make it an enjoyable guilty pleasure. It’s fair to say that Russell’s sadistic charm and the presence of a group of attractive women are the driving forces behind the movie’s appeal.



31. Tom Cruise (Collateral)


Tom Cruise (Collateral)


Tom Cruise, who is widely considered one of the most popular movie stars globally, was known for playing heroic roles where he would go above and beyond to protect his loved ones or his country.


However, in director Michael Mann’s movie Collateral, the Top Gun star plays the part of a professional contract killer who is calculating and precise. This casting decision created a lot of intrigue around the film when it was released in 2004.


As expected, Cruise portrays the role of Vincent flawlessly, using his undeniable charisma and on-screen presence to make himself appear believable and unpredictable at the same time. It is now widely accepted that Mann’s decision to cast him as the antagonist in Collateral was a stroke of genius, which worked greatly in the film’s favour.



32. Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada)


Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada)


It’s worth noting that Meryl Streep had some initial concerns about playing the role of a demanding editor-in-chief for a prestigious fashion magazine. However, those worries were quickly put to rest once she started working on the film.


As Miranda Priestly, Streep delivers a complex performance that showcases her character as a powerful and enigmatic woman who is not afraid to have things her way. Rather than portraying her character in a one-dimensional manner, the actress adds layers of her own personality, vulnerability, and mystique to it.


Furthermore, her chemistry with both Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt played a significant role in the film’s success. Indeed, seeing Streep take on the role of an antagonist after a series of good-natured and admirable characters was a refreshing change of pace.



33. Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man)


Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man)


Willem Dafoe has had a prolific acting career playing a variety of roles. He has been cast as the protagonist or a significant supporting character just as much as he has played the antagonist.


However, among his many memorable performances, his portrayal of the supervillain Green Goblin in the 2002 superhero film Spider-Man directed by Sam Raimi stands out as one that made a significant impact on audiences around the world.


In the film, Dafoe’s portrayal of the power-hungry, cynical monster who derives pleasure from inflicting pain on others was highly praised. The actor’s willingness to venture out of his comfort zone and take on new challenges was evident in his performance in this blockbuster hit.



34. Tom Hiddleston (Marvel Cinematic Universe)


Tom Hiddleston (Marvel Cinematic Universe)


Tom Hiddleston is a tall and charming actor who has played various roles in his career. However, he gained fame for his performance as Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


As Thor’s brother and the franchise’s villain, he is a memorable character who resonates with the audience. Despite being driven by rage and jealousy, he possesses sensitivity and intelligence. Though he may seem wicked and dangerous, he is still likeable.


It’s perhaps why Marvel Studios created a series focused on him.



35. Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained)


Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained)


Samuel L. Jackson gives a superb performance in Quentin Tarantino’s iconic film, Django Unchained, where he portrays the character of Stephen, a supporting antagonist. Stephen is infamous for being “the most hated negro in cinematic history.” As a cunning, sceptical, and merciless character, Stephen is seemingly in charge of his Lord’s estate in his absence.


His intelligence and authority are matched only by his cruelty, making him a character that you cannot help but despise. One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is when he interrogates Broomhilda about her relationship with the titular character, a scene that is sure to give the viewers chills.



36. Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula)


Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula)


Gary Oldman is a great actor and his enactment of characters like Commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight and Sirius Black in Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban are a testament to his talent.


While not exactly known for playing the antagonist, the actor agreed to put on an unsettling appearance as Dracula for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, helmed by Francis Ford Coppola. Oldman’s wild appearance, coupled with the  emotional complexity that he brought to the character, made the movie worth watching.


More importantly, his transformative performance showcased his ability to take on different appearances and add a personal touch to the characters he portrays on celluloid.



37. Tilda Swinton (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)


Tilda Swinton (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)


In the 2005 Walt Disney Pictures feature film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Tilda Swinton portrays Jadis, the White Witch, who is a formidable character.


Swinton, who has also played a vulnerable and helpless mother in We Need to Talk About Kevin, put her versatility on display by acting as a queen wannabe in this film, motivated by her desire for control and power.


What makes the White Witch detestable is not only her thirst for power and control but also her cold and impassive eyes. She is willing to use manipulation and force to achieve her goals.


In many ways, Swinton’s White Witch represents the worst aspects of dictatorship, including temptation, anti-Christian leadership, and cruelty.



38. Tom Hardy (The Revenant)


Tom Hardy (The Revenant)


Tom Hardy is an incredibly talented actor who deserves more recognition than he currently gets. He has showcased his acting abilities in several movies like Dunkirk, Locke, The Drop, and Bronson, among others.


However, his performance in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant was particularly noteworthy. Hardy played the role of John S. Fitzgerald perfectly, bringing out the character’s evil persona and making us empathize with Leonardo DiCaprio’s protagonist.


As the movie progressed and the desire for revenge intensified, Hardy’s portrayal of the deliciously despicable antagonist made us eagerly anticipate his downfall. The wait was definitely worth it, and Hardy’s performance in the movie was nothing short of exceptional.


He managed to make us hate him, which is a testament to his acting prowess.



39. Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)


Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)


Margot Robbie is considered to be one of the great actresses of our time. She has brought life to the screen on numerous occasions, which is why she was chosen to play Harley Quinn, one of Batman’s most underrated villains.


After her portrayal of the character, the DC supervillain became very popular and helped create a successful franchise and a spinoff film. Robbie has enjoyed playing the villain and is eager to continue portraying the character.


She has become synonymous with Harley Quinn, which is remarkable considering that she is also known for her role as Barbie in Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster film. Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn is consistent and she looks comfortable playing the madcap villainess on the big screen.



40. James McAvoy (Split)


James McAvoy (Split)


James McAvoy is a versatile actor who has dabbled in various genres and played a variety of roles. However, his performance in Split deserves special recognition. In M. Night Shyamalan’s mind-bending psychological thriller, McAvoy portrays a multitude of distinct characters, including a particularly antagonistic one.


Each of these characters has their own quirks, interests, and physical mannerisms, and McAvoy is able to convincingly embody each one of them in the twisty, entertaining thriller. While it’s certainly enjoyable to watch him switch between these personalities, his portrayal of “The Beast” stands out in particular.


This character is determined to eliminate the “impure” from the world, and McAvoy’s performance as this menacing character is truly striking.



41. Michael Keaton (Spider-Man: Homecoming)


Michael Keaton (Spider-Man: Homecoming)


In the first of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man movies, Michael Keaton made a swashbuckling return to the genre of superhero films by playing Adrian Toomes. Toomes is a disgruntled blue-collar salvage worker who turns to a life of crime after being threatened with the loss of his livelihood.


However, things take an interesting turn when we are introduced to his alter ego, Vulture. Vulture is a sympathetic yet menacing villain who is willing to go the extra mile to get what he desires.


Keaton’s portrayal of the character is believable and showcases his versatility as an actor, also helping the public take an interest in his professional life after a long gap.



42. Jim Broadbent (Hot Fuzz)


Jim Broadbent (Hot Fuzz)


Jim Broadbent, a renowned British actor, has been a successful performer for the past fifty years, appearing in both TV and film. He is well-known for his portrayal of gentle and kind-hearted older characters, which is how he initially appears in Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz as Police Inspector Frank Butterman.


However, as the story progresses, layers are slowly peeled off his character, revealing his hilariously evil capabilities. We soon discover that Broadbent’s Frank is not the person we initially thought he was.


He turns out to be maniacal, violent, and hubristic, but most importantly, he’s incredibly entertaining.



43. Helena Bonham Carter (The Harry Potter Franchise)


Helena Bonham Carter (The Harry Potter Franchise)


Helena Bonham Carter is known for her unique fashion sense and unconventional roles in both blockbuster and independent full-length films. Throughout her career, she has earned a reputation as a talented actress.


One of her most notable performances was in the globally popular Harry Potter franchise, where she portrayed the sadistic and psychopathic character, Bellatrix Lestrange.



44. Elijah Wood (Sin City)


Elijah Wood (Sin City)


Robert Rodriguez’s films have always been known for pushing the boundaries of filmmaking, and as a result, they have gained a niche following. One of his unique full-length features is Sin City, which starred Elijah Wood as an antagonist.


Prior to the release of Sin City, Wood was best known for his role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. However, seeing Wood portray the character of Kevin, a sinister and cannibalistic serial killer, made audiences view him in a different light.


Despite his often silent but subtly menacing character, Wood’s performance was outstanding and he served as a henchman to Rutger Hauer’s Cardinal Roark. This performance showcased his range as an actor and proved that directors need only utilize him well in their projects.



45. Jim Carrey (Sonic the Hedgehog)


Jim Carrey (Sonic the Hedgehog)


Among the most popular mainstream comedic actors of all time, Jim Carrey took the road previously less taken in his career as he portrayed Dr Robotnik in the 2020 live-action/CGI hybrid adaptation of the video game Sonic the Hedgehog.


For those who are not familiar with the game, Dr Robotnik was an iconic antagonist in the popular game. Thanks to Carrey’s portrayal of the villain, the film was mostly well-received.


While over-the-top and eccentric, Dr Robotnik is one of Carrey’s most unlikely and, therefore, unique portrayals. And, indeed, the actor brings his infectious energy to make the character work.



46. Charlize Theron (The Fate of the Furious)


Charlize Theron (The Fate of the Furious)


Charlize Theron is undeniably charming and possesses the necessary presence and skills to fit perfectly in an action flick. This might be why director F. Gary Gray cast her in The Fate of the Furious after having collaborated with her previously on The Italian Job.


Theron plays the role of Cipher, an enigmatic and genius cyberterrorist in the movie. Her portrayal of the character is chilling and calculated which is a delight for the fans of the Fast & Furious franchise.


She comes across as a formidable opponent to the protagonists and drives the action in the film.



47. Harrison Ford (What Lies Beneath)


Harrison Ford (What Lies Beneath)


Movie enthusiasts worldwide are well aware that Harrison Ford is one of the most renowned franchise actors of all time, having played leading roles in both Star Wars and Indiana Jones.


However, Ford took a different path when he starred in the 2002 film, What Lies Beneath. In the movie, the actor portrays the enigmatic and ominous character of Norman Spencer and delivers a spectacular performance.


As the film progresses, more of Spencer’s secrets are revealed, making his character increasingly intimidating.



48. Michael Keaton (The Founder)


Michael Keaton (The Founder)


Michael Keaton’s portrayal of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc, is an underrated performance. We witness his journey from an ambitious man striving to improve his life to a much darker character in the second half of the movie.


Initially, we root for him, but as greed and success take over his moral compass, he takes a twisted turn. Keaton’s recent career shift, where he plays antagonistic roles, is excitingly diverse, and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next.



49. Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls)


Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls)


Rachel McAdams rose to fame in 2004 after playing significant roles in movies like The Notebook and Mean Girls. In the latter, she played Regina George, one of the “mean girls” who was also the most popular student at North Shore High School.


Regina is portrayed as manipulative, frivolous, and materialistic, with a sole focus on her popularity and power among other students. Though she possesses leadership qualities, she doesn’t use them for productive purposes at school.


Instead, Regina is preoccupied with flaunting her luxurious life and being admired by others.



50. Tom Hanks (Elvis)


Tom Hanks (Elvis)


Just when you think that you may have seen the best (or the worst) of the legendary Tom Hanks, he comes all guns blazing and startles you as Colonel Tom Parker in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis.


Even though some may think that his character is a bit caricaturish and worthy of the mixed reception it has received, it does get the job done. Indeed, Hanks manages to bring Tom’s pathetic rationalizations and manipulative nature to life in a drama that is anchored by Austin Buttler’s career-best act.


So, even though he is an expert at luring in audiences and giving them a show, he goes on to become the villain in the titular character’s life.


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