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14 Times Great Villains Were Played By Comedians

Updated July 8, 2021 4.6k votes 923 voters 189.2k views14 items

List RulesVote up the most sinister villains played by comedians.

Actors like Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, and John Malkovich can't always play the villain. These times great villains were played by comedians prove that sometimes casting against type can reap great rewards.

Robin Williams and Jim Carrey were both hilarious stand-up comedians with impressive filmographies filled with hilarious movies. However, both actors wanted to expand their resumes with dramatic roles that cast them in a completely different light. Sometimes it's hard to imagine our comedic heroes playing the bad guy. But, sometimes when the script and performances are just right, those normally funny protagonists make terrifying villains.

Make your voice heard. Vote up the most sinister villains played by comedians.

  • Photo: Amor Media

    Kevin James generated a lot of laughs as Doug Heffernan on the sitcom King of Queens for nine seasons. The likable actor also showed off his comedy chops on the big screen in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and Grown Ups

    In 2020, James did a complete 180, challenging audience expectations as a violent neo-Nazi in the action-thriller Becky. Yes, you read that correctly: Kevin James played a neo-Nazi in a movie. In the bloody home invasion thriller, his character Dominick is a sadistic escaped convict. The serious role was supposed to be played by another comedy star, Simon Pegg. However, The Shaun of the Dead actor had to bow out because of a scheduling conflict

    James talked about why he wanted to play a role against type: 

    I feel like I relate to a lot of people as the common guy. But when you do that a lot, what happens is half of your audience wants to see more of that and the other half is like "I've seen that. Let's see him do something different." I got this script and it was so out of left field. Originally, I was going to play the father of the daughter and Simon Pegg was going to play the villain. Then Simon had a scheduling conflict. So they had to recast the part. We came up with the idea, what if I do that part? I just went for it.

    Memorable heel-turn?
  • 6

    Mo'Nique, 'Precious'

    Photo: Lionsgate

    Mo'Nique is one of the "Queens of Comedy." Her successful stand-up career led to roles on the sitcom The Parkers and such big-screen comedies as Phat Girlz and Soul Plane. She took a major left turn in 2009 when Lee Daniels cast the funny lady as abusive mother Mary in Precious

    Mary spends her days chain-smoking in her dark living room and watching television from her dirty old recliner, perpetually angry. Mary often turns her rage on her teenage daughter Precious (Gabourey Sidibe). She is verbally and physically abusive toward Precious. Mary is so deranged that she blames her daughter for stealing her man because Precious's father sexually abused her. 

    How good was Mo'Nique as a vile abuser? So good that she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. 

    Despite the despicable nature of Mary, Mo'Nique has sympathy for her. "You see them as monsters," said Mo'Nique. "You want to judge them and walk away saying, 'I hated that person.' But I don't hate Mary Jones. I'm sad for Mary Jones. Mary Jones is mentally ill, has spent her life being sick, but nobody ever paid attention - including Mary Jones."

    Memorable heel-turn?
  • Funnyman Jim Carrey had quite a year in 1994. He went from a relatively unknown TV sketch comic to a mega movie star after playing silly heroes in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber. Just one year later, Carrey put on a different mask to play the supervillain in Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever.

    Carrey plays the villainous quiz master the Riddler, sharing center-villain-stage with Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones). The Canadian stand-up shows a definite knack for playing an evil, twisted, mentally deranged baddie. The Riddler gets personal satisfaction from his misdeeds, leaving self-satisfied riddles to make sure everyone knows he's responsible. Deep inside, the Riddler is jealous of Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer), and it's his envy that drives his madness. Carrey is able to successfully convey that inner rage. 

    It was an over-the-top role that happened to suit Carrey, who has made a successful career playing characters that steal the show. Many Batman fans felt Carrey was the best part of Batman Forever, which received mixed reviews overall.

    Memorable heel-turn?
  • Albert Brooks doesn't usually strike us as scary or threatening. The former stand-up comedian turned comedy leading man and auteur (Modern Romance, Defending Your Lifehad a meeting with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn to discuss his new movie. He asked Brooks why he should play the part of the cold emotionless gangster Bernie Rose. Brooks responded, "The same 10 people always play the bad guy, so if you want everybody to think your movie's old hat, cast them."

    Brooks convinced Refn he was the man for the part by getting a little physical with him. Brooks said: 

    We talked some more, and he told me that when he was younger he sat in a theater and watched Lost in America and I scared him when I yelled at my wife. So then I pinned him up against the wall to show him I had strong arms, and I left. To be violent, you don't have to scream at people.

    That could have gone a couple of different ways for the Broadcast News actor. Refn could have filed charges, or he could cast him as his villain in Drive. The latter is what happened, and Brooks proved he could play against type. Bernie is a ruthless sadistic New York mobster with a prized blade collection. He's a special kind of antagonist. He isn't flashy; he doesn't scream and yell. But he will take out anyone, even his friends, to get what he wants. 

    Brooks received a Golden Globe nomination for his villainous portrayal, and was considered one of the decade's biggest Oscar snubs when the Academy passed him over for a nomination.

    Memorable heel-turn?