They are not your regular Hollywood villains — mouthing expletives and vowing revenge only to be beaten up by the hero and finally bite the dust. These are characters of Hollywood films that left you unsettled with their quiet calm
Dr. Nekhorvich (in Mission Impossible II) was right when he famously remarked “Every search for a hero must begin with something which every hero requires, a villain”. Of course, not all films have villains, but among the lot that have them, some have produced the best villains Hollywood has ever witnessed. As psychopaths, terrorists, or as just plain baddies, they intrigued and entertained us. From Marlon Brando as an Italian Mafia lord in The Godfather and Al Pacino as a drug dealer in Scarface to Javier Bardem as a suave killer in No Country For Old Men and Andy Serkis as a slimy frog-like creature in The Lord Of The Rings, countless actors have donned the role of the antagonist with effortless ease. However, there are a few that remain unforgettable, thanks to their riveting performances. Here’s a list of a few of the most memorable bad boys.
Dr. Hannibal Lector
The American Film Institute rates him the best villain. Played by Anthony Hopkins in the 1991 thriller The Silence Of The Lambs, Hannibal Lector was a psychopath. Not just any — the brilliant psychiatrist is a cannibalistic serial killer. The portrayal, along with feisty lines such as “I ate his liver with some fava beans and nice Chianti” fetched Hopkins the Academy Award for Best Actor.
He must be rated the baddest of the lot. As the rapist who loves to listen to Beethoven, Alex, in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, is a potent mix of violence, hate, sexual pleasure and destruction. Taking cues from homicidal maniacs such as Jack The Ripper in From Hell, and Wild Bill in The Silence Of The Lambs, this villain targets the opposite sex; the difference is he’s a rapist, while the others were cold-blooded murderers.
Some may find similarities between Alex and Patrick Bateman (portrayed by Christian Bale in American Psycho) — they both love listening to music while raping their victims.
The character Alex, played by Malcolm McDowell, became so popular that many directors started creating similar psychopaths in their movies. However, it was so brutal and violent that the Academy did not nominate the actor for an Oscar. Small wonder director StanleyKubrick called Alex ‘ultra-violent’.
We don’t generally see excellent acting in superhero movies, for it’s invariably about just kickass fight sequences. But here’s an exception — Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. For a comic book superhero such as Batman to have a financially successful movie adaptation, there had to be an archrival. And who better than The Joker! Australian actor Heath Ledger gave the performance of his life, and with a touch of madness, lent a new perspective to The Joker. The commitment put in by Ledger to create Chris Nolan’s own idea of The Joker was not in vain, for he received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, albeit posthumously.
Colonel Hans Landa
The Second World War gave rise to some of 20th Century’s most evil names. And director Quentin Tarantino decided to get cracking with the next villain in Inglourious Basterds, the 2009 remake of the movie The Inglorious Bastards. Christoph Waltz, playing a Nazi security service colonel, gave a splendid performance as a German officer who hunts down Jews. Hans Landa, unlike Dr. Lector, isn’t a psychopath. He’s a cool customer who knows four languages, and loves milk as much as he loves to torture his victims emotionally before ordering the firing squad to take over. In fact, his calm unnerves the viewers. The stellar performance fetched Waltz practically every top award, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. And, to think he did it sitting on a chair (he’s seated most of the time in the film), smoking his pipe, and eating best food!