Villains are an essential part of storytelling, and some of the most memorable characters in Hollywood history have been the antagonists. From the iconic Joker, Norman Bates, Darth Vader, to Hannibal Lecter, a great villain can add depth and excitement to any movie.
There are some actors who seem to be born to play the bad guy. Alan Rickman, Christopher Lee, and Christoph Waltz have all made a name for themselves by portraying some of the most diabolical characters on screen. However, there are other talented actors out there who have yet to explore their darker side and take on more villainous roles.
In this list, we will look at 10 actors who have the potential to play amazing villains, even if they aren’t typically associated with those types of roles. These actors have already proven their acting chops in other genres, and with the right opportunity, they could break the mold and deliver a stunning performance as a menacing antagonist. Just like Heath Ledger did when he transformed into the Joker and won an Academy Award for his performance.
10 Sandra Bullock
Back in 2015, Sandra Bullock, a renowned actress with over 25 years of experience, surprised audiences by lending her voice to the villainous Scarlet Overkill in the animated film Minions. This was the first time that Bullock played the role of a villain in her long and illustrious career. Her portrayal of the character was so impressive that it earned her numerous award nominations, and the movie itself grossed over $1.5 billion globally, making it a commercial hit.
Unfortunately, apart from a brief appearance in the Minions sequel, we haven’t had many opportunities to see Bullock play the role of a villain again. While we have seen glimpses of her dark side in some of her previous films, we are yet to witness her fully embrace and play a true villain in a horror or thriller movie. Given her range and acting abilities, it’s high time that we see her take on such a challenging role and showcase her villainous talents to the world.
9 Brendan Fraser
During the 90s and early 2000s, Brendan Fraser became a popular heartthrob in Hollywood by playing amiable characters in movies like George of the Jungle, Encino Man, and Dudley Do-Right. Even in the role of Rick O’Connell in The Mummy franchise, there was a certain sweetness and charm about his character. Despite this, Fraser has proven his dramatic acting chops in critically acclaimed movies like Crash and The Whale, establishing himself as one of the most talented actors in the industry.
Fraser’s genuine and humble personality in real life has made him a natural choice for good-guy roles. However, after demonstrating his versatility as an actor, many fans are eager to see him take on a more villainous role. Fans were ecstatic when it was announced that he would be playing the antagonist Firefly in the upcoming Batgirl movie. Sadly, the project has been scrapped, according to Screen Rant. Nevertheless, we remain hopeful that we will get to see Fraser in a dark and sinister role in the future.
8 Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler has made a hugely successful career out of playing (mostly) lovable goofballs. Much of his output is light-hearted and doesn’t require too much thinking, and despite dividing critical opinions, he’s developed a strong and loyal fan base over his 30+ year career. Over said career, however, there have been glimmers of another, more dramatic side to Sandler, in movies like Punch Drunk Love, The Meyerowitz Stories, and Hustle, all of which he received high praise for his performances.
Perhaps his most acclaimed performance is the deeply flawed and unpleasant character Howard Ratner in the Safdie Brothers’ dramatic thriller Uncut Gems. Whenever Sandler steps outside his comfort zone, we get to see just how good an actor he really is, hence why we’d like him to really leave that zone and play an all-out bad person in a dark drama, thriller, or even horror movie.
7 Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow has had a long and successful career and has created an image for herself painting her in the light as an all-round good girl (despite a few hiccups along the road). With a career spanning over 30 years, she’s never really played a true villain. As much as we’ve loved her in movies like Hook, Emma, and Shakespeare in Love, it would be fantastic to see her take a few more risks, subvert expectations and try something completely different, she certainly has the talent.
6 Michael Cera
Michael Cera is fantastic at what he does. His nerdy, socially awkward shtick is great and has worked wonders for him in movies like Superbad, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Juno. After growing accustomed to these types of performances, it was undeniably hilarious to see him break the mold in the meta comedy This is the End, in which he plays a fictional version of himself, who was boisterous, rude, crude and downright obnoxious. It was a breath of fresh air seeing him play so against type and got us wondering what it would be like to take this even further and play an all-out villain.
5 Daniel Radcliffe
It was almost impossible not to typecast Daniel Radcliffe as many of us grew up with him and watched him spend much of his child and teen years playing the world’s most famous wizard, Harry Potter. Since, however, he’s been doing a lot to prove that there’s more to him than the one role, from appearances in dramatic stage plays to ultra-violent action flicks (Guns Akimbo), quirky indie flicks (Swiss Army Man), and even horrors (Woman in Black), and we’ve been thoroughly enjoying the ride he’s been taking us on. He recently proved he could play a convincing villain in the action comedy The Lost City, and we’d definitely like to see even more of this side of Radcliffe.
4 Elijah Wood
Similar to the case with Radcliffe, there’s an entire generation that were most likely introduced to Elijah Wood as the star of a big fantasy franchise, in this case, as the bright-eyed hobbit Frodo of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s no secret, however, that Wood has a deep-rooted passion for horror, and it’s within this genre that, since LOTR, he has truly excelled.
Something about his innocent fresh-faced appearance juxtaposed with horrific violence works so well. Whether he’s brutally scalping women in Maniac, committing unspeakable tortuous atrocities in Pawn Shop Chronicles or eating his unsuspecting victims in Sin City, Wood does evil exquisitely, and we want more!
3 Dave Bautista
Making the move from professional wrestling to acting isn’t always easy, and it can be hard to shake off the wrestling persona that took so many years to craft. In recent years, however, Dave Bautista has done just that and is on the way to becoming one of this generation’s biggest acting stars. Having already appeared in blockbuster smashes like the Guardians of the Galaxy series and Glass Onion, Bautista himself has expressed an interest in sinking his teeth into some meatier roles to avoid being typecast (per Entertainment Weekly), and what better opportunity to do so than playing a dark and emotionally complex villain?
2 Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence has quickly risen to the top of the game as one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. She’s appeared in huge blockbuster franchises like The Hunger Games series and X-Men and flexed her more dramatic acting chops in movies like Silver Linings Playbook and Mother! but never as a full-on villain. It seems only logical that she’d want to take on such a role, and with her background, she’d be perfectly suited to playing a villain in a large Marvel style blockbuster or even in an artier indie affair.
1 Hugh Grant
Hugh Grant made a name for himself in the 90s and 00s playing a bumbling Brit in a slew of successful rom coms including Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Four Wedding and a Funeral, and Love Actually. After a brief break from the limelight, he is having somewhat of a renaissance, choosing to play against his early-career type, playing more characters that are more rough around the edges. He impressed critics and audiences alike as the eccentric villain in the highly acclaimed Paddington 2 and was a joy to watch as a cockney gangster type in Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen.
More recently, he hammed it up to play a villainous arms dealer in Ritchie’s latest offering Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre. It certainly looks like Grant is enjoying his re-invention, and we hope he continues to pursue this path.
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