Sometimes, actors only hit it big after playing a villain or two, and some actors go their whole careers without ever once playing a bad guy. Others, though, kind of make playing bad guys their whole deal, and they are often really good at it. Whether they're versatile actors who have played a little of everything - including some iconic bad guys - or the kind of actors who play characters you love to hate pretty exclusively, this collection features some of the top actors known for playing villainous parts.
Yet these aren't actors who keep their light under a bad guy bushel. We've got Oscar winners aplenty here - and some of them won their awards for playing villains - so vote up your favorite actors who are so good at being bad...
- 11,121 VOTES
The Villains: Hans Gruber in Die Hard, the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, et al.
The Actor: While many modern viewers may know him best as the conflicted Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series, whose definition as a villain is questionable, Alan Rickman already had a well-trod reputation for playing nefarious, reptilian roles long before he donned the robes of Hogwarts' master of potions. In fact, his breakout role came more than a decade earlier, when he played one of the most memorable villains in cinematic history - the terrorist mastermind Hans Gruber in John McTiernan's original Die Hard.
- 21,154 VOTES
The Villains: Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK, Dracula in Bram Stoker's Dracula, Stansfield in The Professional, Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg in The Fifth Element, Drexl Spivey in True Romance, Dr. Smith in Lost in Space, Mason Verger in Hannibal, et al.
The Actor: Gary Oldman has played, well, pretty much everybody at one point or another. He's been Pontius Pilate and Commissioner Gordon, punk rock legend Sid Vicious and Winston Churchill and Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz. He's been a wizard, a spy, a rabbi, numerous scientists, and the devil. He's also played lots and lots of villains. His breakout performance for mainstream audiences was probably in Francis Ford Coppola's baroque 1992 adaptation of Dracula, where Oldman played the eponymous count under old age makeup, Victorian dress, and even several monstrous transformations. He even went toe-to-toe with one of cinema's most iconic villains, Hannibal Lecter, when he played (under acres of prosthetics) the sadistic Mason Verger in Ridley Scott's Hannibal.
- 3615 VOTES
The Villains: Felix Reyes-Torrena in Collateral, Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, Silva in Skyfall, Captain Salazar in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, et al.
The Actor: Anyone who has ever played a villain in a Bond film is a likely candidate when you're thinking of actors known for playing bad guys, and Javier Bardem certainly played a memorable one in Skyfall. Before that, however, he had already vaulted into mainstream awareness with one of the most iconic villain turns of the 21st century in the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men, with Bardem winning an Academy Award for his portrayal of laconic hitman Anton Chigurh.
- 4603 VOTES
The Villains: Agent Smith in The Matrix, Megatron in the Transformers films, the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger, Thaddeus Valentine in Mortal Engines et al.
The Actor: Distinctive British actor Hugo Weaving has played Elrond in The Lord of the Rings, the eponymous masked vigilante in V for Vendetta, and provided the voice of a sheepdog in George Miller's Babe. Yet for most of us, he will always be Agent Smith, the staid antagonist of The Matrix. Smith proved to be Weaving's breakout role, and since then he has issued memorable villain turns in the MCU and Michael Bay's Transformers series, where he provides the voice of Megatron, not to mention non-villainous roles in films like The Wolfman, Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge, and even performing Shakespeare in the 2019 version of Measure for Measure.