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Actors Who Are the Best at Playing Sleazeballs

Updated June 14, 2019 5.5k votes 791 voters 77.0k views23 items

List RulesVote up the actors who are sublime at being sleazy.

What does it mean to be a sleazeball? Typically, sleazy characters are the villains in a movie or television program - the unsavory types, who are dishonest and willing to break or bend any law in order to get what they want. They are the shady guys lurking in the corner, lying and cheating, working up some kind of scam. The sleaziest take no prisoners and don’t mind collateral damage. Some actors are just naturally really good at playing these types of sleazy characters. This list features those actors who are the best at playing sleazeballs.

Without hesitating, the average moviegoer can probably come up with the usual suspects when it comes to sleazy characters. Actors like Willem Dafoe and Christopher Walken naturally have that menacing and villainous look in their eyes. However, would it be surprising to find that Leonardo DiCaprio, considered by many to be one of the most handsome leading men in Hollywood, has played just as many total scumbag sleazeball characters as almost any actor ever? For whatever reason, DiCaprio is just really good at acting sleazy.

These are the go-to actors to play all kinds of unsavory types on both the big and small screen. From the vilest villain to the womanizing serial cheaters to the hardened criminals, these actors don’t shy away from being the bad guy.

Be sure to make your voice heard and upvote the actors you think are good at acting sleazy. Don't just vote for the best actors - vote for those who are best in sleazy roles.
  • You probably don't know the name of character actor J.T. Walsh, but once you see his menacing face onscreen, you know that some awful, evil plan is about to be hatched. Film critic Leonard Maltin described Walsh's typical role as, "quietly sinister white-collar sleazeballs.”

    Sleaziest Roles:
    A Few Good Men - Lt. Col. Matthew Andrew Markinson
    Sling Blade - Charles Bushman
    The Grifters - Cole Langley
    Do they do it well?
  • Alan Rickman did not get his start in Hollywood until he was 42 years old, when he was cast as one of the most legendary villains in action film history, Hans Gruber from Die Hard. After that iconic debut, it was probably pretty difficult to see the British thespian as anything other than a bad guy/total sleaze.

    Sleaziest Roles:
    Die Hard - Hans Gruber
    Harry Potter franchise - Severus Snape
    Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - Sheriff of Nottingham

    Do they do it well?

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  • One of the most prolific character actors of his generation, you may not know Christopher McDonald's name, but you certainly know his work. Most of the actor's resume is filled with one sleazy character after another.

    Sleaziest Roles:
    Happy Gilmore - Shooter McGavin
    Requiem for a Dream - Tappy Tibbons
    Boardwalk Empire - Harry Daugherty
    Do they do it well?

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  • Let's be real here: John Malkovich (who is one of the greatest actors of our generation) is a bit creepy looking. There's something a bit off looking in his eyes that can make his glare chilling to the bone.

    Sleaziest Roles:
    Burn After Reading - Osborne Cox
    Rounders - Teddy KGB
    In the Line of Fire - Mitch Leary
    Do they do it well?

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